According to research from the New York-based think tank, the Center for an Urban Future, Brooklyn has witnessed the largest increase in corporate franchises this year, compared with the other NYC boroughs, with a 2.8% bump from 2012. That’s 1,511 new chain outlets this year; the runner up was the Bronx with 863 chains. The most prevalent big names to set down their stakes city-wide are Dunkin’ Donuts (the largest chain retailer in NYC), 7-Eleven, Duane Reade/Wallgreens and Starbucks.

We’re definitely feeling the chain invasion close to home. Greenpoint already has a Starbucks (at 910 Manhattan Ave), but North Brooklyn is about to be home to a second franchise location.  Eater reported that Starbucks is likely to land at 405-409 Union Ave, on the ground floor of the 65 Ainslie Street luxury condo building. They were tipped by a job posting calling for new S-bucks baristas.

The proposed site for the Apple Store on Bedford Avenue

And there’s more… 240 Bedford will soon be home to a brand shiny new Whole Foods, which will also include luxury apartments and a New York Sports Club branch, according to Racked). The store will be sure to satisfy the neighborhoods’ hunger for overpriced kale.

Apple might move in right across the street for the site of its flagship Brooklyn store (at 247 Bedford and N. 4th St). That same intersection is also home to the pharmacy superstore, Duane Reade.  The landlord of the potential Apple building has confirmed deals with Parm, Umami Burger, and Sweetgreen. However, Apple also has an eye on a space in Fort Greene near the Barclays Center, so the Williamsburg location is not yet set in stone.

Those chains will join the wood-paneled (ye olde cabin-themed?) Dunkin’ Donuts on Bedford and N. 7th, which opened in October, and a forthcoming Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie (at 242 Bedford).


Councilman Levin is negotiating with the developers at 77 Commerical Street (an extensive new residential/commerical spaces) to have more local retailers, but it is quite likely that at least a few more chain stores will riding those coattails and staking claim to this neighborhood of young, “hip,” and desirable buyers.

Conversely, Manhattan and Queens actually saw a decrease in new chain franchises this year.

Although Greenpoint is home to several chains, including Subway, McDonalds, Rite Aid, and Taco Bell, among others, independent businesses are still thriving and giving the neighborhood the charm and identity we know so well…at least for now.

Will this influx of name brand retailers damage the character of Williamsburg (or the Williamsburg “brand” itself)? Or will residents embrace the convenient proximity of frappuccinos and iGadgets with open arms?  Only time will tell…

Are chains good or bad for North Brooklyn? Leave your comments below.

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  1. Regarding Apple — I’d wager at least half of the people who moved here in the last 5-10 years use Apple products. Seems logical. Regarding the other places — if you don’t want them, don’t shop there.

    Do you have stats on how many locally owned business are being created? And how many of the chain places are franchised with local ownership? Genuinely curious.

  2. As someone who was just priced out of Greenpoint, hearing similar stories upon stories from others in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, much of it is due to landlords forcing out lower paying tenants in apartments and commercial spaces. I heard from 2 independent business owners in the last week that their landlords are only doing year to year with them to give them the option to raise rents and/or sell buildings to developers. Chains/franchises (franchises like Dunkin Donuts are often owned by immigrant families who can’t afford a traditional mom & pop) are some of the only ones who can afford it now.

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