The Secrets to Entrepreneurial Success in Brooklyn

01/30/2013 4:00 AM |

Greg Paquette,

Andrew Raskin

They founded the vintage-clothing retailer Sporting Life.


What neighborhood do you live in, Greg?

We had a live/work commercial space on Nevins right by the Union Street Bridge. We were looking for exactly that for a month or so and then we saw the “for rent” sign and that was that.

For people who may be unfamiliar with it, how would you describe what Sporting Life does?

We sell a very curated selection of vintage clothing, specializing in classic American styles, American-made, and clothing of natural fibers.

Why start it up? What do you do that’s different from similar businesses?

Many vintage clothing shops have very similar selections to each other, e.g. Western shirts, plaids, classic Levis etc. We have a very apparent style-theme going. Polo, wool tees, starter jackets, New York sports gear, And 1 shirts with disses on the back. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re on our page you’ll love our stuff.

Why start up in Brooklyn?

Andrew grew up a few blocks from our shop, so it was a natural thing for him. I lived in the Bronx for a few years but it’s difficult to do things there for many reasons. And Brooklyn is where it’s at!

What happened to your Gowanus location during Sandy? At what point did you decide it was best to cut your losses and move out?

We got flooded with the murkiest of waters. Our whole area pretty much moved out. Many new places were opening and still are, but it was a big letdown waiting for the area to really bloom and then getting smacked with Sandy. Our landlord had no intention of addressing the water in our floors and walls; he just wanted us either to stay with the warped floors and mold or get out so he could rent it as-is.

How are you going about getting funding for a new location? Where would you like to set up ideally?

We applied for a small business loan, so we have our fingers crossed for that. We got our deposit back from FEMA so that helped. Since Sandy we’ve hocked our goods on Bedford in Williamsburg a bunch of times and that’s really fun and easy. It changed my whole perspective on having a brick-and-mortar business. At this point we are gypsy salesmen, but we hope to have a new spot in Bed-Stuy or Bushwick soon.

Is this your dream job? Or do you wish you could be doing something else?

It is! We love it! I can’t imagine not hoarding and flipping gear. I get anxiety leaving it alone. For the time being we will be putting our merchandise for sale on our website at sportlifebk.com.

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