Many small businesses steer clear of anything controversial or political so as not to offend any potential customers. After all, the customer is always right, even if they are saying exactly the opposite thing from what the last customer said.
Brooklyn Industries, a 14-store outfit that's based in (where else?) Brooklyn, NY, and sells hipster-licious clothing, bags, and small household goods, is not afraid. Its store windows are provoking conversations about subjects that not everybody wants to talk about, necessarily, when all they want is to grab a t-shirt.
The retailer explained the thinking behind its thought-provoking window displays: "Inspired by Spike Lee's film Jungle Fever, we wanted to take a closer look at race in Brooklyn. We asked local residents about their lives and experiences growing up here."
One of its stores featured the following conversation starter plastered on its window: "Does Brooklyn represent diversity, or a place where cultures and races remain separate?" To help move the conversation along, the store then provided printed thought bubbles for customers to provide their thoughts, which were then hung in the window to provoke passersby to consider, Racked.com reports.
This week, the store took another step, giving back to the community that inspired its name by offering a percentage of its proceeds to Do Good Brooklyn, which is run by the Brooklyn Community Foundation, an organization that works toward making borough residents’ lives better.
The company’s blog — called Words From the Water Tower, a reference to its NYC icon logo — is a consistent source of community consciousness as well, whether it is chronicling the joy of rooftop farming or explaining just how a “dress made entirely from organic material and seeds … would eventually sprout beautiful flora.”
The retailer’s latest news is that it opened its 14th store in late May. To create it, only six sheets of sheetrock were bought. Then the rest was created “from upcycling their own shipping pallets and using found vintage objects and tables,” a company release states. “The store will be powered by 100% wind power and will feature a BKI museum and transitional art installations.”
At the end of the day, of course, Brooklyn Industries wants to sell as many Brooklyn-bowing T-shirts and bags as it can — so don't miss the brand's "Tees for a Cause," which this week is supporting the centenary of the carousel in Brooklyn's Prospect Park.
It’s nice to see a small retail brand that lacks a fear factor when it comes to marketing itself — and the community that inspired its name. Take a peek at its "Made in Brooklyn" items and Pinterest board to see what we mean.