Insane Surge of Gentrification In Philadelphia

Whether you like it or not, gentrification is affecting more communities every year. Philadelphia communities are no exception. See: Gentrification In Philadelphia

Apart from San Diego, no city in the nation is seeing gentrification accelerate as much as Philadelphia. Read more at Insane Surge Philadelphia Gentrification

Although gentrification is not a new phenomenon, the rate at which it is sweeping into communities is unprecedented.  As more businesses, especially national businesses, move into a community, real estate becomes more competitive and prices soar. Small business must fight to survive with rising rent, increasing battles for talent, limited resources and the ever-present reality of becoming squeezed out. These communities and small businesses do not possess the negotiating tools, resources and leverage to cultivate more favorable conditions and many times are pushed out of business.

These communities and small businesses do not possess the negotiating tools, resources and leverage to cultivate more favorable conditions and many times are pushed out of business.

In a changing environment, a once recognizable neighborhood can seem foreign. Instead of fearing this change, small businesses must reinvent themselves to stay in the game. It’s like you’ve moved to a new neighborhood, without moving physical locations. You may not feel like a new business, but you should act like one.

Small business owners will need to tweak their business plans to compete with new neighbors. While some business will fail, others can thrive. Follow the tips below to benefit from the changing economy.

Gentrification Chart

What You Can Do As A Small Business Owner

Retain originality

Remain true to your brand but evolve your service or product to appeal to your new community’s demographic. Because new residents aren’t familiar with your business, treat it as if you are a new business. Resist the urge to copy the other successful businesses that are opening around you. This will push away your existing customers and seem disingenuous to your new ones. In order to bring in your new neighbors, use grand opening marketing strategies such as happy hour specials, coupons, discount days, or host an event. Adapt your marketing but don’t diverge too far from what has made you successful.

Differentiate by being different

In the face of gentrification, small businesses have something that national firms can not imitate; long-standing ties to the community.  Your business has been their longer, embrace it. Advertise how long you have been in business. Many customers dislike going to chain restaurants that are identical to one another. Market what differentiates your business from your competitors. Whatever you can do that others can not, advertise it and allow your originality to differentiate your business.

It is all about pricing

Price appropriately. Resist the temptation to price your products or services similar to your new competition. Your rent and other business costs may have increased with increased real estate demand in your neighborhood. If you need to make up increased cost, do it to keep your business model intact. 

It is important to remember that part of your appeal amidst an increase in pricing, is that as an original staple of the neighborhood, your prices will be lower. Try to limit costs in the future to control rising input costs. One strategy is to negotiate your priciest costs. Try to sign an extended year lease, sign contracts with your suppliers for more than one year, and similar contracts.

Emphasize local

Like it or not, many of the new businesses locating into your community will be chains owned by larger companies with more resources. Emphasize that you are independently owned and operated. New customers will take notice if their money stays in the neighborhood. Investing in the community can be a marketing strategy that does wonders for your business.

Sponsor local sports team and community events, participate in Chamber of Commerce events, and other activities that make your business known while simultaneously creating a sense of community. This will be an advantage that will be hard for your competition to imitate in a credible way. Your customers will take notice and appreciate it.

Understand your changing market

Although gentrification has many negative effects, your small business has the potential to thrive and adapt to changing conditions but only if you know your new environment. The increase in population could yield your new ideal customers.  Survey your new demographic to understand the if there are increased market opportunities. Then market what makes your business unique to this new market.

Is your community experiencing change due to gentrification? How has it impacted the community and businesses there? Let us know in the comments section below.


Gabriella Nolan

Gabriella is passionate about the ability of entrepreneurship to spark community development. While receiving her Masters in Development Management from The London School of Economics and Political Science, she created a social business based in Morocco that reinvests its profits in entrepreneurial classes for migrant women. She is an experienced global consultant and is excited to bring her experience back to her native Philadelphia to help communities thrive.