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Small Business Saturday highlights local businesses

Small businesses were given a big platform this past weekend as part of Small Business Saturday.
Over a dozen small businesses set up shop in the King Manor House Museum in Jamaica to showcase and sell their goods.
For executive director Kelsey Brow, the sight of local vendors selling their products was a special one.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” said Brow. “I moved from the suburbs of Denver to New York City on purpose to get away from big box stores.”
Brow said it was significant to lend the historic space to local vendors who might not have a brick-and-mortar store. From beauty and healthcare products to artisan jewelry, the first floor of the museum was filled with 16 small businesses, a majority of them based in Queens.
Among them were Sha’s House of Bling, JBM Jewelry, Beauty Bar and Mr. X Stock Market Academy.
“It’s really meaningful, especially because we’re in such a central location,” said Brow. “It’s exciting to have such a wide variety of vendors here today.”
The event was curated by Adrienne Whaley, executive director of the Queens Underground International Film Festival.
Whaley, an artist and entrepreneur who sells her own soaps, set up her display of products alongside the other local small businesses for the all-day event just down the road from her own studio.
“It was important before and now it’s magnified because none of these people have a storefront,” said Whaley on the support of small businesses. “Since the pandemic, it’s become even more important. Shopping online is okay, but here you can talk to the vendors and you can touch the items.”
Whaley also curated a selection of over 30 music and poetry videos that were screened in the parlor of the historic house. A room once used for entertainment purposes was repurposed for the showcase event.
“Of course they didn’t have film back then, but they would have had magic lantern shows, kind of like an old-fashioned slide projector but it was hand done,” Brow explained.
In Astoria, an outdoor holiday event brought out families to Steinway Street and 31st Avenue, where crowds were treated to carolers from Christmas Matters, a puppet show by Penny and the Puppettes, and holiday music performances by the Academia De Mariachi Nuevo Amanecer.
Sponsored by the Steinway Astoria Partnership, the holiday event aimed to bring the community together to support the over 300 businesses on Steinway Street.
“It’s a ‘thank you’ to the residents of Astoria and the Steinway community,” said executive director Marie Torniali. “This little part of Queens is made up of families of many, many different cultures. They all come together as one. Hopefully they’ll support the small businesses that line the streets here.”

Richards launches ‘Queens Shop Small’ program

Borough President Donovan Richards will be visiting a local small business every month as part of a new initiative to promote shopping locally.

“I want to keep supporting small businesses in underserved communities because a lot of times the aid that comes doesn’t always assist them,” said Richards.

For his first visit, Richards stopped by The Nourish Spot in Jamaica. Dawn Kelly opened The Nourish Spot in 2017, promoting healthy living with her smoothies, wraps, and salads.

“I would like his help in making sure that we could get more needed service for some of the people in the community that are down and out on their luck,” Kelly said of Richards. “There are quite a few people who need help with homelessness, mental issues, and drug addiction.

“There’s things happening around Queens like Citi Field and Arthur Ashe Stadium that we would like to be a part of,” she added. “We want their help to be a part of that.”

Soon after taking office, Richards worked with the city and New York Mets to create the Queens Small Business Grant program to support businesses in areas hardest-hit by COVID-19. Over $14 million in no-strings-attached grant funding was distributed among 757 approved entities, 613 of which were minority owned.

During Richards’ visit, Kelly’s was busy filling online orders.

“Business is wonderful because during the pandemic every doctor and medical professional was telling people to eat a more balanced, healthy diet,” said Kelly. “We were doing okay at first, but we got a boom of business in 2020 and had to keep up with the demand.”

Before leaving, Richards presented Kelly with a citation recognizing and Kelly for her work supporting the local community, from hiring local young people to opening the shop as a true community space.

“Our small businesses are the livelihood of Queens,” said Richards. “Where can you get a taste of the world besides Queens?” To learn more visit https://www.restaurantji.com/ny/jamaica/the-nourish-spot-/

Richards launches ‘Queens Shop Small’ program

Borough President Donovan Richards will be visiting a local small business every month as part of a new initiative to promote shopping locally.

“I want to keep supporting small businesses in underserved communities because a lot of times the aid that comes doesn’t always assist them,” said Richards.

For his first visit, Richards stopped by The Nourish Spot in Jamaica. Dawn Kelly opened The Nourish Spot in 2017, promoting healthy living with her smoothies, wraps, and salads.

“I would like his help in making sure that we could get more needed service for some of the people in the community that are down and out on their luck,” Kelly said of Richards. “There are quite a few people who need help with homelessness, mental issues, and drug addiction.

“There’s things happening around Queens like Citi Field and Arthur Ashe Stadium that we would like to be a part of,” she added. “We want their help to be a part of that.”

Soon after taking office, Richards worked with the city and New York Mets to create the Queens Small Business Grant program to support businesses in areas hardest-hit by COVID-19. Over $14 million in no-strings-attached grant funding was distributed among 757 approved entities, 613 of which were minority owned.

During Richards’ visit, Kelly’s was busy filling online orders.

“Business is wonderful because during the pandemic every doctor and medical professional was telling people to eat a more balanced, healthy diet,” said Kelly. “We were doing okay at first, but we got a boom of business in 2020 and had to keep up with the demand.”

Before leaving, Richards presented Kelly with a citation recognizing and Kelly for her work supporting the local community, from hiring local young people to opening the shop as a true community space.

“Our small businesses are the livelihood of Queens,” said Richards. “Where can you get a taste of the world besides Queens?”

To learn more visit https://www.restaurantji.com/ny/jamaica/the-nourish-spot-/

Yang talks small business investment in Queens visit

Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang sat down with Thomas Lo, culinary director of Spy C Cuisine, to discuss what the city could do to support minority entrepreneurship.
Part of Yang’s approach is establishing a people’s bank of New York. The proposal would ensure that every New Yorker can access basic financial products and services, like checking accounts, but also support small business lending in underserved communities by guaranteeing loans and loan portfolios.
Spy C Cuisine is one of two Michelin-recognized restaurants in Forest Hills, and is located on Austin Street alongside many other small stores and eateries. It’s an area of Queens where the economic impact of COVID has resulted in numerous vacant storefronts.
“When I see a closed storefront, I see a family that invested years and years of blood, sweat and tears into trying to make that business work,” he said. “I’m very passionate about trying to be a true partner to small business owners and trying to make sure that as many small businesses can survive and reopen their doors as is possible.”
The bank would work closely with small business lenders and existing financial institutions that specialize in community development. By guaranteeing a level of losses, the bank would assume the risk that these institutions face in lending and incentivize them to be more inclusive.
“We have a two-year window to try and get this recovery right before the federal money runs out,” Yang said. To me, small business investment is a very effective way to go.”
Lo was born in Queens and has lived in Forest Hills for five years. In 2000, he was sleeping on his grandmother’s couch when he deferred from medical school to pursue his culinary passion instead.
Two decades later, Lo is a board-certified anesthesiologist, a former “Iron Chef America” contestant, and part-owner of one of Forest Hill’s most distinctive restaurants. He’s built his life around balance and describes himself as a “doctor by day and chef by night.”
“It’s always been my goal to introduce New York to how good Chinese cuisine is,” said Lo. “There’s more to it than beef and broccoli, and we love showing people how delicate and balanced our flavors are.”

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