DUMBO, Brooklyn – A bright red mailbox sits next to the Christmas tree in the middle of Pearl Street Triangle. The children approach it and slip letters into the letterbox. These letters, addressed to Santa Claus.
âWe were able to come to an agreement with the North Pole to secure a special Santa Claus mailbox in the heart of DUMBO,â said Alexandria Sica, President of DUMBO’s Business Improvement District (BID). “I think Santa really likes the idea of ââhelping small businesses.”
Santa has sent his elves to work with the local BID for the most unique of partnerships. If Santa sees something on a child’s wish list that can be purchased locally, BID will give that child 100 âDUMBO dollarsâ to spend at some of these neighborhood stores.
âTechnically you’re still in the city, but it almost feels like a small town, that’s what I really like being here,â said Vibhuti Amirfar, a resident. âOne of the peculiarities of our neighborhood is that it is animated by this holiday spirit, whatever traditions people come from, whatever they celebrate, it’s a real sense of community and this is really beautiful.
Amirfar’s daughter, 7, wrote a letter that began with: âDear Santa, Merry Christmas. I’ve been good all year, some would say fantastic. She asked Santa for magical creatures and books on the subject for her and her younger sister.
âTheir letter was chosen by Santa Claus to have DUMBO dollars, prompting us to make their wishes come true by shopping in the neighborhood,â Amirfar said. âMy daughters also know these stores, so they know the bookstore. They go there frequently to read books. They’re just excited that it’s kind of a magical spirit, we’re focused on spending time together as a family and it’s really nice to be a part of the neighborhood in a unique way.
According to Sica, 80% of DUMBO companies are independently owned and operated. Like many mom-and-pop stores across town, many have been hit hard by the pandemic. BID allocated $ 10,000 for the letterbox project, seeing it as an ideal way to help families buy gifts for their children while reinvesting the money in the community.
âThis idea came about as a win-win,â Sica said. “We knew local families could potentially be struggling right now, we knew retailers needed a little extra push, so we made the match.”
While toys and books are often on the kids’ list, for older kids it might be time to head to the famous Gleason’s Gym, where Mohammed Ali and Mike Tyson trained. Bruce Silverglade owns Gleason.
âWe received a few invitations to come to Gleason’s Gym and take a lesson. Boxing teaches discipline.
Silverglade welcomes young boxers.
âWhen I first bought the gym 39 years ago, we didn’t have kids; now we have a number of them, âsaid Silverglade. âWe teach them to box. Whatever they learn in a gym, they can use it outside.
DUMBO resident Lindsay Stuart opened Glam Expressway in 2017. It’s a trendy clothing store that matches the vibe of the neighborhood.
âWe want the business. We go above and beyond: gift wrap, free shipping, whatever we can do, but we’ll really go the extra mile for people, when you won’t get it online, âStuart said.
She is one of the many women entrepreneurs in the region.
âIt really encourages people to keep the money in the neighborhood and shop locally, to walk around your neighborhood, to find special treasure,â Stuart said. âChristmas is for kids, so when you have this joy it spreads to everyone around. “
It’s giving season and Santa makes a list and double-checks it, making it good for DUMBO kids and businesses.
Organizers told PIX11 News that they have already received hundreds of letters from children. Santa’s mailbox will be there until Christmas Eve, and they’ll make sure Santa gets every letter.
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