By Assemblywoman Nikki Lucas 6oth AD
First, I would like to thank everyone who came out to the Free Bookbag Giveaway event that was held Saturday August 27 at Linden Park. We successfully gave out approximately 1,000 bookbags, as well as school supplies.
The event was a combination Bookbag Giveaway and Community Celebration as we prepare for the start of the new school year.
The event was a success because the community came together. Non-profit organizations, small businesses, volunteers, and elected officials formed a partnership that allowed everything to be FREE for the students and families.
Unfortunately, one of the vendors who makes baked goods went online to bad mouth me because I did not allow her to sell her products at the event. Selling from vendor tables was not allowed at this event, and it was made known to every partner that participated. However, this event gave small businesses a perfect opportunity to be able to support the community, while at the same time providing samples of their products or services to promote their businesses. As a former small business owner, I am in total support of small businesses succeeding, but this event did not allow for sales. I had events in the past that did allow for vendors to set up and sell from their tables, but this was not one of those events.
Additionally, our permit did not allow for vendor sales within the permit area. The vendor was selling baked goods from their table. They were informed multiple times that selling was not allowed during this event. They were eventually asked to leave if they were not going to adhere to the stated mission of the event, which was to provide free services, food and entertainment to students and families.
The vendor went online to bad mouth my daughter as well. My daughter overheard the vendor call me out of my name and my daughter asked her if she could not talk like that about her mother. This should not have turned into a personal attack on me nor my daughter. Our community partners put together a great community event, and there is no room for personal online attacks. It is unfortunate that this online attack would happen after such a great event.
Although the event went well, this was something that I felt I needed to address. While 99.99% of the vendors had a great time and were able to showcase their products and services, this one vendor for some reason could not understand that this event was 100% free for the community. She mentioned in her Instagram Live that she stayed up all night baking and that the barbers and hair braiders, who were providing free haircut and hair braiding, did not. That’s no reason to go against the stated mission of having a totally FREE Community Celebration.
I’m looking at this as a teachable moment for all small businesses and entrepreneurs. When you are vending at an event where you can reach hundreds or thousands of people in a concentrated area in a neighborhood that you service, you should understand that this is an opportunity to market to that audience. This is especially true when you know ahead of time that there is no selling at an event. If you want to sell then that event might not be right for you.
I will be working with local small businesses and non-profit organizations throughout the district to set up festival-style events where selling will be permitted. I recently met with the President of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce to discuss how we can work together to help small businesses within the district. It pains me to see a small business or entrepreneur going against what we created with our community partners. Instead, they could be working with us in an organized way to expand the opportunities for their business, while at the same time supporting our community.
I will never bow down to anyone trying to smear my name based on false or misleading information.
This vendor went on to say that I was trying to cause controversy when I asked the DJ to play a song titled Set it Off. The fact is members of the AKA sorority were getting ready to step and that song is part of their routine, as see in this Victory Video Tribute to VP Kamala Harris. By the way, thanks to the AKAs for supporting the community.
Once again, thanks to the entire community of East New York, Brownsville, and Canarsie for your continued support!
Assemblywoman Nikki Lucas 60th AD