The People's Republic of Park Slope is known for nothing if not for handcrafted liberal chic. Fire up the ol' search engine and you will find the stuff of New Slope legend ... the faux hippy co-op, yellow umbrellas, the Snowflake "buy local" campaign.
For all the pontificating about the glories of buying local, most Slopers doesn't seem too concerned when it comes right down to brass tax. Seems most won't put their Amex cards where their pie holes are. But really, dear readers, what is life without a B&N discount card and a Half-Caf Caramel Macchiato? I mean honestly, I can live without anything but luxury.
One only need look at the lighted signs of Seventh Avenue to see how much Slopers are willing to sacrifice convenience for "buying local." Park Slope ably supports a Starbucks-down-the-street-from-a-Starbuc
ks, a Rite-Aid, and a Barnes & Noble that has been elevated to the level of Community Center. Deep Slope Doyenne Louise Crawford's own blog bemoans the loss of independent Seventh Avenue Books and hails the bailing out of her beloved Community Bookstore while regularly plugging events (and merchandise) at Barnes & Noble.
Poor Smartmom. Chummy-Wummy Tiny Bookstore didn't have Smartmom's book. That's okay. Smartmom loves Corporate Monster. Corporate Monster is a big monster. Corporate Monster holds author readings to lull Smartmom into submission with a faux sense of local color. Smartmom is easily lulled.
By all accounts, Park Slope's buy-local "Snowflake Night" bombed big, and reeked of do-gooder posturing and public relations. But let's not blame the neighbors completely - the merchants' offers were a joke. Multiple offers for a free dessert, a craft demonstration, or 10% to 15% off are not exactly going to tempt someone out into the freezing rain. Hell, 15% off Park Slope boutique prices wouldn't even bring it down to normal retail.
Even though I don't really need a handmade organic-wool doggy hat, a cruelty-free faux-silk meditiation pillow, or a peacock blue yoga mat made by actual peacocks - thanks for asking. It's the thought that counts.
Clearly, Park Slope doesn't want an ugly sort of horror-movie retail beast like Walmart, but a happy Pete's Dragon sort of beast like B&N is perfectly okay - at the expense of local businesses or not. Here's a tip - If you don't want to lose your small local businesses, start a campaign to locally boycott the chains; not a stupid event in which the hardware store serves hot chocolate until ten.
Or wouldn't that be cute enough? I guess "The Snowflake Boycott" is not very catchy.
Of course, this is not to say that there are not Parksiders practicing what they preach. But it seems for the most part, to paraphrase Kander and Ebb, "If you can fake it there, you can fake it anywhere."
park slope starbucks photo courtesy of lab2112's photostream at flickr.com
twilight photo courtesy of greenbk's photostream at flickr.com