In 2004, Jonothan Butler started his Brooklyn blog Brownstoner. Butler has since expanded the brand, breaking into the outdoor market with both Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg. Less than two months ago, he widened his reach yet again with the acquisition of QueensNYC.com for his new Queens Brownstoner blog.
Butler offered some insight into his decision in an interview with the New York Times:
Q. Why have you started a Brownstoner web site in Queens, and why now?
A. “People have been saying Long Island City is about to have its moment for three decades, and I think it’s become pretty clear in the past year or so that it is having its moment now. I wanted to be there for that… Part of what made Brownstoner fun for me to do, and therefore successful, was that I didn’t know a whole lot about Brooklyn… There are these incredible neighborhoods in Queens that most people who live in Brooklyn and Manhattan have no idea about, and I wanted to use it as a platform to explore that stuff.”
Q. Why stick with the name Brownstoner for the Queens site?
A. “At this point the name Brownstoner has transcended that literalism. I write about Williamsburg and Greenpoint with great frequency, and there are not a lot of brownstones up that way. A brand is a brand. It was a similar thinking when we expanded the flea market to Philadelphia earlier this month. We’re calling it Brooklyn Flea Philly.”
Q. Your readers in Brooklyn are young, affluent and often creative. Are you seeking a similar demographic in Queens?
A. “In Brooklyn, the site is really focused on brownstone Brooklyn, so some of those traits you mention are increasingly inherent in that geography. I’m hoping that trying to cast a wider geographic net in Queens, I can reach a broader demographic. It’s a bit self-selecting. The people who are sitting at their desks all day long with time to cut corners and read blogs tend to be slightly more affluent… I am trying to use local contacts to recruit tipsters in a variety of neighborhoods.”
Q. Do you expect the same success in Queens that you had in Brooklyn?
A. “I have no idea. It’s not impossible that we would do a market of some kind in Queens at some point. It’s sort of an experiment given that Queens, even the core neighborhoods, is less homogenous than brownstone Brooklyn. It will be interesting to see if we will be able to build readership in the same way that I was able to in Brooklyn. I hope the site will raise the profile of Queens in a way that hasn’t been done in the past.”