THE BLOG

POOPS: Priced Out Of Park Slope

01/24/2014 04:55 pm ET | Updated Mar 26, 2014
  • Karen Paperno Former Owner Boing Boing, Strident Feminist/ Comedian
AJ Wilhelm via Getty Images

My posts have polarized readers. Do they read it as a cautionary tale of a small business owner or as a the whining of a privileged white person? Let's get this straight, I do not feel sorry for myself. In no way should anyone compare my situation to Indian garment workers or Nepalese sex slaves. That just diminishes the horror of their lives. I know I won the geographical lottery to be born here, and I know it. Let's move on.

I made business mistakes in the past. I created something that was much bigger than just a shop -- and was unable to manage it. I failed to respond to the demands, as my life and my business became inextricably combined. I don't blame anyone, I don't even blame the recession. I faltered on the abyss of the unknown; and felt hopelessly inadequate in both my shop and my home.

But that was in the past.

The New York Times article about me focused on the years after 2008 when I opened my second shop. Things couldn't be more different now. Sure, I struggle with e-commerce and showrooming, etc., but so do countless other store owners. O! The stories we can tell!

Yet this story is still unfolding. Every day I hear from current and former customers; not "guests" not "clients" -- but real people who love Boing Boing, and how they want it to stay. I want Boing Boing to stay too!

But who am I staying for? For "Old Brooklyn" or "New Brooklyn?" Does my shop make sense in a changed world? Can I afford to change? I can't afford not to. I have learned through the outpouring of support that Boing Boing has been an integral part of so many lives, I am honored. Soon I will have a new (free) website. I am working on many other things, but now, I know that I am not alone. I was never alone.

I am a part of this community, and they are a part of me.

But what happens when the community I know and love is no longer here?

Last week at least two families told me they were moving to Bay Ridge. They can no longer afford Park Slope. They are POOPS. Priced Out Of Park Slope. The very fabric of this neighborhood is changing as I write. I have become Old Brooklyn without even realizing it. And I am not an enemy of those who are newcomers here, as most embrace the same values as the oldtimers. We came here for the park, the walkability, the lesbian herstory archives; the varied stores and restaurants, the diversity, etc., but since this story, there is not a day that goes by that I don't hear a new story of someone moving out because they don't like nor can they afford to live in Park Slope.

I was chastised in the comments for not increasing my "market share" to reflect the higher incomes of the "New Brooklyn." They told me I'm a business, and if I want to make money, I have to compromise. However, the #1 compliment I receive is that my shop is well curated. Every day people tell me how they appreciate my selection, and that there is no other store like mine around. That is high praise indeed. I've never stooped to carry gimmicks just because they're trendy; and I am not comfortable selling things I don't believe in.

Just because "New Brooklyn" has money, doesn't mean I'm going to change my whole business model to take advantage of them. New parents are vulnerable to marketing; be they rich or poor; and it is my job to keep the bullshit out.

That being said, Boing Boing does need to change. Not to keep up with "New Brooklyn" but to be able to serve all of Brooklyn and beyond. Be it old or new, if I am to survive, I need to evolve. I get that.

I just hope my customers aren't POOPed out by the time Boing Boing reopens.