Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Lola Staar Founder Talks About Coney Island

lolastore
[Photo courtesy of Coney Island Shortcakes]

Coney Island fashion designer and boutique owner Dianna Carlin is the subject of a fascinating new Q&A conducted by Jonathan Bowles, the Executive Director of the Center for an Urban Future. In the interview, the owner of the Lola Staar boutique on the Coney Island boardwalk talks about her business, obstacles she faced setting up shop on the boardwalk, the neighborhood and her insights and opinions about the Coney rebuilding plans.

Here's a sample of what Carlin said she's had to endure, which certainly was a bit of an eye opener for Gowanus Lounge:
I don’t even know how my business has survived through six years, because there are tremendous obstacles here. I know firsthand from my experience here that there are some really corrupt, crazy things going on here. And those just have to be moved out in order for any small business like myself, for anything positive to open up here. I’ve had tremendous problems. Every year, there’s somebody threatening me, trying to extort money out of me, people putting glue in my locks. Every year, there’s something. And it’s because people here feel threatened by me, because I’m new and I’m a woman and I’m not from Coney Island.

The people that own businesses here don’t want to see anything new. They see this newness and this change as something that’s going to threaten their businesses, which have sold the same products, as charming as they are. I mean, I love Coney Island and I love what’s here, despite everything. Coney Island has always had that dichotomy between the bright, circus lights and the dark, seedy underside. There’s been corruption—Sodom by the Sea has been its name since the beginning. There’s always been that element here. And that’s part of what attracted me to it. But I know for sure that if new businesses are going to open up here, there are many things that need to change.
Carlin's comments about Coney redevelopment and why she is basically supportive of the Coney Island Development Corporation and Thor Equities plans for Coney are very much worth reading.

As for the Center for an Urban Future, if you're not familiar with their work, they're absolutely worth getting to know as they do some of the most perceptive and interesting research around about important New York City planning, community and quaility of life issues. The organization's most recent study took a hard look at New York City street fairs, concluding that they are seriously lacking because a handful of firms have a stranglehold on them. The Q&A with Carlin is actually part of an ongoing series of interviews.

If you're in Coney check out Lola Staar, then head over to see our friends Dan and Kalene at Coney Island Shortcakes, who continue selling their excellent shortcakes and putting words and photos up on their always-fun blog. In fact, they have an item and some photos right now on their blog (from which we borrowed the one above) about Lola Staar, who is one of their neighbors.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Z. Madison said...

I've lived in Brooklyn for 8 short years and every year make it a point to go down to Coney Island to grab a Nathans and a ride on the cyclone at least a couple of times a season.

This year was no exception. For the first time, I happened across Lola Staar and was pleasantly surprised to find a store like that amoung all the other bars, gaming booths and bazaars. I immediately bought a vintag-esque Coney Island baby-T which I adore.

I've been arguing with everyone I know for years that Coney Island is a place that is on its way back and was elated when the Brooklyn Cyclones opened their stadium and to hear of the $1Billion pledged to reinvigorate the area. Seeing a store like hers there showed the promise that was finally being delivered.

Unfortunately, I also agree with everything she said and know that we're still a long way off. If you cross the wrong side of Surf Avenue or stay a bit too late after sundown, frankly...it's not the best use of your street smarts.

Here's hoping businesses like hers thrive, as does the area itself. Stay strong, Lola!

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If only I'd known then what I know now!!!

8:03 PM  

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