This Thursday, families and friends around the country will sit together over a roasted turkey (or tofurkey, if that’s your thing), and give thanks. Then, when the clock strikes midnight, many of those same people will rush out to megastores like Wal-Mart and Target and trample one another as they attempt to snatch up the best deals possible. This consumer frenzy, better known as Black Friday, brought in 226 million shoppers and $52 billion in sales last year, according to the National Retail Federation. It also led to 20 people being pepper sprayed over an XBox in Los Angeles, a parking lot shooting in Myrtle Beach, and a face getting trampled for a smart phone in Rome, New York.
At Kill Devil Hill (170 Franklin Street), the store clerk is a serene young woman named Melody. Also the store’s seamstress, she greets customers with a smile and a warm hello as they set foot into the intimate hardwood interior. Although the store is 4 miles away from Macy’s in midtown; in ambiance, they’re worlds apart. Kill Devil Hill sells a variety of wares, from jams to homemade glassware to shoelaces to combs. And this year, they’re putting out an open call to Greenpoint artisans: come by, show them what you’ve made, and you can make Kill Devil Hill your 21st century trading post this holiday season. By renting out the empty storefront next door for December, the owners plan to curate a pop-up holiday shop made entirely of local wares. As for Black Friday, they’ll actually be closed.
Kill Devil Hill epitomizes Greenpoint’s unique style: a small town in the heart of the big city, where community matters and the quality of the product and the depth of the experience mean more than the volume of sales. Cute boutiques and bars dot Franklin Street from Commercial Street to North 14th Street, centered heaviest at the crossing at Greenpoint Avenue. Ana Chronos (135 Franklin Street), offers a carefully hand- selected and curated collection of vintage classic and couture pieces and locally handmade goods, including all natural soy candles, luxury soaps, jewelry and stationary. Select items will be 20%-50% off for Black Friday.
More digitally inclined shoppers will find it best to head to Lucas Electronics (754 Manhattan Avenue). Lucas Bielak, who runs the outlet with his wife Monika, has lived in Greenpoint for 10 years, but he’s only had Lucas Electronics open for four months now. Prior to owning this space, Mr. Bielak was managing Wizard Electroland, also on Manhattan Avenue. Wizard has since relocated to Ridgewood in Queens, but Lucas and Monika stayed behind. “I couldn’t go,” explained Lucas. “I love Greenpoint so much. This is my home.” He’s slashing prices for Black Friday too, selling everything – from a Panasonic 50” plasma TV for $500 to Beats headphones for $250 to European-compatible DVD players for $100 – at a discount. Musical electronics, meanwhile, are best found at Pentatonic Guitars (139 Franklin Street). They’re celebrating this holiday season with a deal for lefties: if you buy a lefty guitar, you receive a free, heavy-padded Pentatonic Gig bag and your choice of a Pentatonic T-Shirt or a Pentatonic Eco tote bag. In keeping with contemporary Brooklyn bohemian mores, the tote bag is made out of recycled cotton canvas, and was produced under fair wage/labor practices.
Stocking stuffers can be purchased en masse at the appropriately named Cheap Charlie’s (712 Manhattan Avenue), one of many dollar stores on Manhattan Avenue north of Nassau Avenue. Or, shoppers can satisfy their sweet teeth with Peter Pan’s classic $1 doughnuts (727 Manhattan Avenue), whose recipe has been so successful it hasn’t changed in over 60 years.
Over at Greenpoint Toys (738 Manhattan Avenue), shoppers can depend on owners Herman and Nancy Hernandez to provide them with reliable, high-quality toys at competitive prices. Even better, the gift-wrapping is free.
But shopping in Greenpoint this holiday season is about so much more than getting a low price on common goods. Here in Greenpoint, Black Friday is about shirking an animals-to-the-trough mentality and embracing the holiday spirit of warmth and togetherness. For example, at Awakening, a wellness center at 607 Manhattan Avenue, owner Mariola Zaremba is hosting a Kambucha party Friday after her beginners Vinyasa class (6:30-7:30 PM). For kids (7-12) who attend the PowerStrike Fitness class at the same time, she’ll offer sandwiches and other small snacks. A drop-in class is $15, with memberships from $85 and up.
Those looking for a heartier Polish snack can head to Adam’s Delicatessen (12 Nassau Avenue) to get steep discounts on kabanos, smoked kilbasa, or rycki cheese, all of which will be on sale on Black Friday, or they stop by Christina’s Polish Restaurant(853 Manhattan Avenue) for a $9 soup-and-entrée during lunch hours. For a different kind of meat market, make your way to Enid’s, (560 Manhattan Avenue), to enjoy a fine selection of whiskies and $15 chardonnay carafes. Alternatively, you can put on your dancing shoes and mosey over to the slick Polish nightclub Europa (98 Messerole Avenue), where DJ Max Farenthide and DJ Hubertus will be spinning tunes from 11 PM onward ($20 door, 21+ men/18+ women).
Greenpoint is a neighborhood of quirks and contrast, simultaneously one of the hottest real estate spots in New York and a paragon of working class tradition. Not many places can offer young hip urbanites mixing with multi-generational Poles, Italians, and Hispanics in an ever-shifting dynamic demographic. Shopping in Greenpoint on Black Friday is more than a means to crossing items off a checklist. It’s a chance to experience a community that should always keep its flavor.