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Gentrification Doesn’t Have To Mean Displacement: How To Make The Changes In Your ’Hood Benefit You

"My solution is an economic one."

Gentrification is a word heavily used in my neighborhood.

Gentrification: the process of repairing and rebuilding homes and businesses in a deteriorating area (such as an urban neighborhood) accompanied by an influx of middle-class or affluent people that often results in the displacement of earlier, usually poorer residents.

Gentrification just means new people heading our way, but it doesn’t have to mean displacement. My solution is an economic one. If we can identify the trends, plan for new residents and take action, we can leverage our pre-existence on this terrain.

Below are some opportunities  —  trends seen in gentrified neighborhoods — that can be leveraged to our advantage.

Beauty

Beauty is a dominant industry across race, gender and class.

Quick Start:

  • Barbershop — Add a barber that uses shears or clippers to your traditional shop. Sit them in the front window for all to see. After all, no regular will try his chair. If you’re a barber, add or begin to host live demonstrations of that skill. The barber game is a local one. If you can serve the needy, you become the plug.

Long View:

  • DryBar  — This is a simple hair salon that only provides blowouts with no washing, dyeing or cutting. Women come in to get a blow-dry, style and sip champagne. The concept creates quick turnaround. Look into the franchise or create a regional alternative. As with any beauty endeavor, the look is important. Social Media and branding are imperative in this endeavor.

Beer and Alcohol

Everybody drinks, some more than others. But with any neighborhood's rise in population comes a rise in alcohol consumption.

Quick Start:

  • Delivery Service — Promote at places where you have a captive audience, in a location where many gather regularly. These place can be  where they can afford and appreciate the convenience of your service, and you can serve several clients at once. Figure out a pricing strategy (i.e. percentage, flat rate) and get going! Soon enough the liquor store will extend you discounts and credit. Be sure to take advantage of the difference in prices at the “hood” liquor store and others. That’s arbitrage!

Long View:

  • Beer Garden  —  Black people drink beer but, I would argue, not as much as our non-people of color. And we definitely don’t quite care where we drink it. But if you care about hops and the several ways man has learned to ferment them, this could be an opportunity. Traditionally, these drinking spots are set on outdoor plots and have limited construction. Think of this as a bar with less inventory and less upfront costs, where nobody will complain about the lack of women. (Also, consider adding a cigar bar extension! You’re thinking already …)

Pets

Black people love their pets, too! So with an influx of new pet lovers coming your way, it may be time to corner the market.

Quick Start:

  • Dog Walker — Post some pics of you walking a dog or two. Then, get some business cards and pass out flyers with an email or phone and voila! Don’t overthink it; get out there before the competition! Soon enough, you’ll have to hire people.
  • Pet Boarding — If you like dogs and have space for a couple, this could be a sweet hustle. Essentially, you'll be sitting canines until their owners return from vacation, including walks, feeding and maybe bathing too. The thing is, you can charge like you’re watching kids!

Long View:

  • Pet Store — A pet store is a wanted and needed service in newly gentrified neighborhoods. I personally don’t know exactly why pets need their own store, however, PetCo is profitable and niches tend to work in business. Maybe try a cat or dog specialty?
  • Pet Grooming — I'm sure you get the picture now, but beyond any stigmas and labor lies a high margin business.

Children

If there are new couples in the neighborhood with kids, especially if they're transplants, they’ll have limited information when it comes to kid care. If this is your shtick, it could bloom into a nice business. For working parents, their kids are the number one priority! Take some classes, get certified and you’ll have your hands full soon enough! Or, find a way to blend your unique talents into an attention grabbing activity.

Quick Start:

  • Babysitter — If you have some experience, good! If not, get some, then put up some fliers, knock on doors, place some local ads and this business can start today!
  • Kids Classes — Have a talent or skill? Teach an arts class at a local center or gallery. Former athlete? Teach kids your sport or provide kids fitness classes.

Long View:

  • Day Care — When gentrification happens, local day care centers can boom! If you have a center, start doing all the things possible to make you attractive: Facebook page, Instagram, great branding and maybe hold some open houses for new residents.
  • Summer Camp — This option is far less regulated and can be started rather quickly. In the summer, parents that send kids to camp do so based on interest, location and peers. So find your way either through sports, academics or the arts. The beauty of camp, similar to a class, is that you can serve many children at once, but in droves. Use churches, team sports, schools and parks to make yourself familiar.

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Fitness

As is already clear, fitness centric businesses tend to follow the rise of gentrification, and in many cases can be seen as a physical symbols similar to Starbucks. Whether it’s pilates or yoga, fitness is a real opportunity.

Quick Start:

  • Personal Training — Providing personal fitness classes will always be needed. If you have sports experience and an interest in helping people achieve their body goals, you can build a clientele around that.
  • Bootcamps — This is similar to personal training except with less direct attention and more people. This model could be used to bolster a personal training roster with the bootcamp serving as a sample of your offerings.

Long View:

  • Yoga/Dance Studio —  You get it! Throughout pop culture, aerobics, exercise and dance classes have always been popular for affluent women. If you own property or have experience in management, this could be a great opportunity.
  • Bike Shop — A bike shop could be a viable enterprise! This likely would take some considerable financing, but nonetheless an opportunity!

Wellness

Affluence not only affords a certain lifestyle, but also access to certain luxuries and items not easily available to the less affluent. Wellness follows the same rules, which is likely why we associate Whole Foods with better or improved neighborhoods. Items not normally considered as necessary may be just that to the affluent, so let’s provide these to the needy!

Quick Start:

  • Smoothie Service — Fruit, ice, blender, some cups and fliers. It’s not quite that simple, but to get up and running I cannot imagine another need.
  • Massage Therapy — For licensed masseuses in a newly gentrified area, you likely already work outside of the area you live. Try establishing a base in your neighborhood by leveraging your current job and promoting. You just might gain clients from recent residents and old alike!
  • Meal Prep Service — If in 2019 you cook food well, this hustle works all day long! Pair your skills with great photos and social media promotion and you’ve got a proven business.
  • Meditation Classes — Are you into chakras or alternative healing? In a world of growing noise and distraction, we all want to escape. Meditation can help many move beyond their daily realities, and those willing to pay can help you move beyond yours!

Long View

  • Juice Bar — Cold Pressed Juice. Smoothie Bar. Whatever you call them, however you like them, if there is not an offering in your neighborhood, make one! These shops have a simple business model and allow for insane margins.

Trademark the Neighborhood Name

Now this is a bit scandalous, but hey, it’s legal and could net a nice buck! This isn’t quite patent trolling, it’s more like grabbing up common urls or social media names early in the game! Imagine owning the handle @NewYorkCity. Nonetheless, I think it’s fair! Urban planners throw cute names over neighborhoods they plan to reconfigure — it's all a part of the sell to retailers, restaurants, developers, etc. Take that name and perform a quick search. You just might get lucky! Then again, come up with your own name and popularize it like any slang term.

Artisanal Niches

Seemingly boosted by social media, all things rustic, olden, re-purposed, original/authentic or generally ashy are on trend. Start a lil’ retail shop, whether you sell sandwiches, wine or cheese!

Quick Start

  • Antique Repair/Refurbishing — People into antiques and collectibles always have something that needs fixing or a long forgotten project. If you’re handy and a hustler, this could start tomorrow! Polish old metals, make small fixes here and there, maybe even come up on some worthy pieces. You just might end up with an antique shop.
  • Wine and Cheese Club — Into some of the finer things? If wine and cheese is your thing, make it known and invite others to participate. You can attract new residents and old alike, whether experts or just curious. It could simply just be something to do! You’ll become an expert of sorts and surely tighter with the wine and cheese lovers. The club could produce larger events and serve as a boon for a local wine shop where maybe you get a cut of sales generated and wine makers might become a sponsor. You might organize outings and wine-centric trips to create further revenue.

Long View

  • Local Market — Most neighborhoods have convenience stores. If yours doesn’t what are you waiting for?
  • Specialty Shop — If your neighborhood is like most, switch lanes and create an option that serves a tight niche: sandwich-soup and salads, high end limited deli, cigars and cigarettes or a wine and ice cream bakery.

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