As the co-founder, along with Brooke Siem, of Prohibition Bakery, our days are full of unpredictable challenges. Our local community has rallied around us through the best and the worst of times, and we support it in turn. Getting along with your neighbors will help you, too. Here’s how to go about it.
1. Love your neighbor.
When we moved into our shop, we made it a point to go over and introduce ourselves to owners of other local businesses, and they have saved us countless times. We find our plumbers and electricians through word of mouth. When someone tells us, “This guy came at 4 in the morning when I called him at 2:30,” we trust that referral. When it's 10 p.m. and we're running around looking for a wet vac, everyone has been there before.
2. Embrace the neighborhood watch.
Compared to Midtown Manhattan, there isn’t a lot of foot traffic on our block of Clinton Street in the Lower East Side, but it’s still active. People hang out and talk, and things are always happening. There’s no such thing as anonymity. We got broken into once, and all of our neighbors rallied around us. They delivered coffee and sandwiches to comfort us, brought over tools and helped make repairs.
3. Buy local.
We make it a point to support local businesses whenever we can. We buy equipment from the hardware store two blocks up. We get lunch down the street. We buy limes from the corner bodega, and we also refer customers to other local businesses.
4. Share the wealth.
Until it closed last summer, our next-door neighbor was a gallery, wine bar and events space. Its owners were the self-appointed mayors of Clinton Street, and we met a lot of people through them. At first, no one else in the neighborhood thought we’d last. They saw us as a sideshow. But then, our neighbor hired us to do desserts for their parties. It was very symbiotic, and we got to network and find new clients that way.
Read more about Prohibition Bakery.
Photo: Courtesy of Prohibition Bakery
PROHIBITION BAKERY / BROOKE SIEM AND LESLIE FEINBERG / MEMBER SINCE 12