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Small Brands Play Big in NYC

March 2013

By Kendah El-Ali, New York

In a city of eight million people, New Yorkers are pretty much forced to socialize the minute they step out of their apartments. To satisfy this vast and diverse audience, New York City has developed quite the artisanal sense of commerce. Butchers, bakers and even harness-makers can find their niches in the city’s blocks, peddling the goods about which proprietors feel the most passionate. New York is a city overflowing with great choices, but it is also a highly competitive marketplace. In order for smaller brands to survive, they must lead the pack when it comes to targeting passionate consumers in an effective way.

Specialty sports store JackRabbit started off as a place where runners and triathletes got a gait analysis and carefully curated running shoes or equipment. A decade later, they’re popular with running enthusiasts of all levels and cater to yogis, as well. JackRabbit hosts countless races and parties throughout the year; you can also enter one of their various training programs. They carry the best of the best, making it a coveted outlet for manufacturers who want to target passionate, dedicated athletes. As they gather thousands of New Yorkers together to get healthy and friendly, that passion is showing in their profit margins. They now have several locations around the city. 

Brooklyn Flea started from equally humble beginnings just five years ago. Originally a weekly flea market organized by two Brooklynites, buzz began quickly and pushed into the food sector. The result was Smorgasburg, a weekly outdoor gathering that brims with NYC food vendors selling their unique culinary creations. An afternoon there plays out like a large family picnic. Whole Foods smelled opportunity in the festival, and partnered with Smorgasburg in its Bowery location. Their second floor now hosts a Smorgasbug kiosk, allowing vendors to sell their goods, and patrons to sample creative local delicacies while watching the city whizz by the giant windows.  

Shake Shack has managed to create an empire stretching as far as Dubai with beginnings as glamorous as peddling burgers and frozen custard out of a shack in Madison Square Park in 2004. The now shiny shacks sell beer and wine, and are popping up in happening locations worldwide. Amazingly, much of their popularity is thanks to (in the flesh) social, word-of-mouth advertising. They famously host toney soirees and charity events, simple quiz nights for the common man and even music festivals and sports nights.

Health & Fitness
Food & Drink
New York
Brooklyn Flea's Smorgasburg brand immersion in Whole Foods on Bowery
JackRabbit Sport's clever
Shake Shack's innovative, locally driven menu

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