Scattered showers didn’t stop backyard grilling connoisseurs from feasting at the first annual Grand Slam BBQ Battle Music and Food Festival on Sunday, June 3rd. More than just bands, beer and beef, the event also marked the neighborhood’s formal introduction to the Grand Street Alliance (GSA), an organization dedicated to developing and supporting small businesses in Williamsburg.
The GSA story began in August when Eight of Swords Tattoo and its boutique resident Bad Wolf & Co. moved into their current location at 115 Grand Street. Soon after settling in, Bad Wolf & Co. owner Todd Kanfer met neighbor Lexi Olivieri, owner of vintage shop Antoinette, and the two bonded over a shared passion for Grand Street and its business potential. A few weeks of brainstorming about how to increase foot traffic to their street led Kanfer and Olivieri to the realization that the same conversation was probably going on between neighboring stores, and they decided to create a support system. “I realized there was no organization, nor any leadership that had the same skin in the game type of motivation to unify this disparity,” said Kanfer. “A single block party would not be enough.”
With many years of executive management in software and tech, Kanfer founded and became President of the GSA and Olivieri its Vice President. Shortly thereafter, Stacie Lucas, owner of Sugar Mama Entertainment, came on board, also in a VP role, to support the entertainment aspects of their events. “I had to design an organizational infrastructure that would provide not only event production, but also a support system dedicated to helping Williamsburg businesses increase their bottom line,” explained Kanfer.
The first effort, an outdoor bazaar featuring over 40 vendors, ranging from restaurants and food services to jewelry stores and clothing boutiques, gave visitors to the Grand Slam an overview of GSA businesses. Attendees took advantage of several shopping promotions designed by the GSA, including receiving a free drink ticket with a purchase from the participating vendors. A free, interactive app, courtesy of Domino Smart Guide, allowed shoppers to browse a list of the festival’s retailers. Seven bands performed, including Bugs in the Dark, recently voted by DELI Magazine as one of the best punk and progressive bands in NYC. Among the many participating businesses were Bad Wolf & Co., Gotham FX (who provided zombie makeup), Antoinette, Scosha, Sandford & Sven, Pop, Ida, Main Drag Music, Beautiful Dreamers, Fuego 718, Le Grand Strip, Whisk, Magic Cobra Tattoo, CupcakeLand, Milly & Earl, Skinny Skinny, A&G Merch, Janes Closet, Brooklyn Soda Works, Miller’s Tavern, Landhaus, Uye Surana, Williamsburger, Ally’s Raw Vegan Organic Sweet Treats.
The BBQ Battle was fought valiantly among a chosen few grill masters, but only one could lay claim to the GSA Grand Slam BBQ BattleMaster 2012 title – Brooklyn Bangers!
For more information about the GSA, visit www.grandstreetalliance.com.
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