Maximizing the Coney Island business space

Anchor Strategy Group principals Kevin Howell and Damian Allen.
Photo by Lin-Jay Harry-Voglezon
Photo by PTAC EXPO 2012

Consulting and marketing firm, Anchor Strategy Group prepared for a large turnout at its launching of “shopconeyisland.com” on Wednesday, April 17 at its 540 Coney Island office, but a disappointing few turned up for the business informative and instructive evening. Among the several business representatives were special invitee City Councilman Mathieu Eugene, who in his brief remarks identified examples of archaic business laws in Brooklyn, and suggested that the firm could become a much needed advocate for small businesses or liaison between the City Council and businesses. Shopconeyisland.com represents an expansion of the business-support services offered by Anchor Strategy Group which was started in May 2009 by , Jamaican Kevin Howell, the managing director. It is promoted as an “online marketing platform for all the businesses from Park Circle to Avenue H” and is expected to later accommodate all businesses along the five miles of Coney Island Avenue. This first phase covers approximately 50 percent of the distance and includes 105 businesses.

Anchor’s Director of Strategy, Grenadian Damian Allen said their very experience in Coney Island demonstrates the need for the marketing portal. The Anchor Strategy Group he said, on opening its Coney Island office in January this year, wanted signs made and its floor done. For over two months it “looked all over” and even got quotations from China. But just across the road, unknown to the firm at the time, is a producer of quality signs at competitive prices who completed the task within a day. This is the kind of problem constraining business growth and efficiency in the Coney Island area, Allen remarked; people within and without the community scarcely know what is available and by whom. He sought to debunk the complaint that Coney Island Avenue is not business attractive, explaining that notwithstanding the ethnic restaurants and haberdasheries, the area is essentially an “industrial space” where you can find lots of hardware products and services.

He attributes the business constraints mainly to the immigrant demographics of the area. It is segmented among Pakistani, Indian, Jewish, Trinidadian, Jamaican and others who seemingly do not engage each other. The marketing portal however is expected to break the isolation of the businesses through online listings and networking. The businesses may be listed for free but a minimum fee would be required for promotional content. The website would also post a newsletter which reports on events of the area. According to Howell the biggest challenge is to get immigrant business owners “to think bigger than they are”.

The Anchor Strategy Group has “ trained, directed and coached over 1,000 business owners” across North America, the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa in areas such as finance, marketing, technology and strategy, the group claims. They see themseives as “key strategic partners” to Caribbean and immigrant businesses. Recently Anchor Strategy Group sealed a business deal in Barbados for the marketing of Sea Island Cotton and is currently negotiating other business deals in Guyana.

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