Monday, March 2, 2009

COMMUNITY / Mom and Pop Stores *Interview: Exit 9*


During October 2007, Exit 9 Gift Emporium owners Christy Davis and Charles Branstool opened their second shop at 127 Smith Street in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. They felt connected to the community because they lived in the neighborhood. It was their misson "to provide creative and inspirational gifts in a world that is quickly becoming a department store”.

The neighborhood also knew Christy as the drummer in the popular kid rock band, Audra Rox. And their daughter, Stella, attends PS 58.
I am so happy and grateful that Exit 9 carries my book, MERMAIDS ON PARADE.

Q: Why did you decide to open Exit 9 in Brooklyn? How long have you been in Cobble Hill? 
 
Charles: There were a couple reasons why we wanted to open in Brooklyn. We have lived in the Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill area for over a decade. We witnessed the transformation that took place on Smith St (and Brooklyn as a whole). And we saw the business opportunities that were opening up there. But more importantly, we both wanted a work place that was close to home. 
 
Christy: I had to convince Charles to open another store as he was growing tired even with just the one store. We would often talk about the "what ifs" of the East Village store in terms of our lease running out, being priced out, etc, so I thought it wise to open another store in a neighborhood that had nothing like Exit 9. Fortunately it happened to be in our neighborhood. It's been a lot of work, but in the end, I'm glad we opened the Brooklyn location. 

Q: How does your "mom and pop" store support the neighborhood? 
 
Charles: Yes, we are literally a "Mom and Pop" store. We actively donate to the public school system. Our daughter is a student at PS 58 and our store is located very close to PS 261. We have built a very symbiotic relationship with both places. We work closely with the PTA by donating many items to the school functions and advertising in their publications. And in return, we get a lot of support from that part of the community. 

Christy: In addition to school fundraisers, we have donated to many other organizations such as the Lower East Side Girls Club, organizations that help underprivileged children & women, NYU Law students, etc. It feels good to help out the community.

Q: When did you start marching in the Mermaid Parade? 

Christy: I honestly can't remember the year exactly, but I think it was around 1998. I went with my two dear friends, Tanya and Cara Lee, who own Superfine restaurant and who, (as you very well know Melanie) are diehard Mermaid Parade participants! 

Q: What is your favorite thing about marching in the Mermaid Parade? 
 
Stella: I love to be able to see some of my friends that I don't see very often and I love to be able to hula hoop with them. I really have a lot of fun the whole day and it's really great! 

Q: Anything else coming up with your very creative family?

Christy: I just bought an electric guitar and I am going to be doing a recording with my friend Matt. I have recorded many many times with bands or for other people's projects, but this will be my first time recording by my songs by myself. (Well, I will be calling on some friends to play certain instruments, but it's my project.) Oh, and Stella will be playing piano on a couple of songs as well. I am really looking forward to it!! 

Thanks Charles, Christy and Stella!

I love the mom and pop stores. I write and illustrate books about the laundormant and the supermarket. My father owned a luncheonette when I growing up in the Bronx and I wrote a book about it.
Support your local merchants!



Photo Credit Top: MKMetz

1 comment:

Christina E. Rodriguez said...

Mom and Pop stores are the best. We're fighting to keep them here in my small Minnesotan town (the economy has hit them pretty hard), but it's good to see they are still thriving elsewhere. I will always choose local and independent when possible.