Calabash is a small boutique on Tompkins Avenue between Hancock Street and Jefferson Avenue that specializes in hand-picked clothing and local artisanal products such as soap, artwork, jewelry and other crafts. Calabash has been in business for 8 years led by owner Anne who has a keen eye for fashion. The inventory is constantly changing but Calabash always emphasizes local, high-quality products for stylish residents.
Owner Anne noticed many changes occurring in the Bed-Stuy area as corporate big box stores started to open over the last decade. Realizing that the neighborhood lacked interesting spaces for creativity, artsy things, and fashion, she set about filling that gap with Calabash. Anne strongly believes in the importance of offering a place where people can not only shop for quality products, but gather and talk with each other.
Why did you become an age-friendly business?
I first started thinking of older customers because I am an older adult myself, so I appreciate why age-friendly businesses are important. There were also a number of older adults living around this area when I first opened Calabash. I feel like my clothing really suits this group and I would always have customers come back and tell me that they had worn my clothing to church or other events and were very happy with how they looked. However, this has changed over the years because the neighborhood has been changing. Many of my long-time customers have sold their houses and lots of younger people have been moving in. But even though my clientele has changed people still appreciate good clothing. Now I also get a lot of younger shoppers too.
What are some of your unique age-friendly services?
I think that what makes Calabash unique is the focus that I place on customer service. First of all, older customers like to chat. So I am happy to stay and talk to them, sometimes for hours. Even if they don’t want to buy anything, customers are always welcome to come in, sit on my couch and talk. I know other people my age go through a lot of things, so I don’t mind if they want to tell me about their lives and challenges. For example, I have one customer who is around 85 years old. She is a very active lady, but has some trouble with her legs. She will come in, sit on the couch, and we will chat while I bring her some different products to look at and we will go over them together while I make suggestions. I usually also walk her back to the corner when she is done shopping. Little gestures like this really help people and make them want to come back. I also will work with customers I know well on payment. Many of my older customers are on fixed incomes that they only receive once a month. If a regular needs something at the end of the month but won’t get their check until early the next month, I can be flexible about working with them to pay me after they receive their money. This is a common challenge for many older New Yorkers and I don’t want them to miss out because of it.
Would you recommend becoming age-friendly to other businesses?
Absolutely. Older customers are often repeat customers and treating them correctly builds loyalty. They also know a lot of people in the community and always spread the word about my business. Even though the community dynamics are changing a lot, which has been challenging for many businesses in the neighborhood, I still love working at my shop and meeting new people every day. Being age-friendly is just the right thing to do. I’ve always thought that.
Calabash is open Monday – Saturday from 12:30PM – 8:00PM and is closed on Sundays. Visit Calabash today and find your perfect stylish accessory or piece of vintage clothing! Calabash is located at 405 Tompkins Avenue in Brooklyn.
You can find their listing on Google Places here or call them at 718-455-7212.
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