Are you ready for Black Friday 2018 deals and doorbusters? Will you, like much of America, wake up in a cold sweat on November 23, wondering if you’ll emerge victorious from the swelling masses clutching a great deal on AirPods or a Nintendo Switch?
No matter how early you plan to rise tomorrow, or how long you’ll wait in a parking lot before dawn for the mall to open, shoppers this year won’t beat the best Black Friday deal of the season.
That’s because Amazon snagged this year’s best Black Friday sale, in brokering a secret deal with New York to purchase 1 million square feet of Queens waterfront property as one-half of the corporation’s new headquarters. The retail giant will receive $1.7 billion in subsidies from New York over the next ten years.
New York governor Andrew “Amazon” Cuomo sold this hot doorbuster in early November, beating a crowd of 238 other cities clamoring over who could give Jeff Bezos the most taxpayer money. “You have to spend money to make money,’’ Cuomo told the New York Times. “You’re betting on a winner.”
But don’t take Bezos and Cuomo’s word for this incredible deal! Motherboard recently spoke to some of those community residents, as well as their local representatives, about what they think of this sale.
“It’s going to push out the people living in the neighborhood,” Thomas Muccioli, a Queens resident who worked on Congressmember-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign, told Motherboard. “I have four generations living in Sunnyside. People have lived their whole lives to make that a desirable area and it’s essentially being sold off by our governor.”
As it gobbles up space on Long Island City this holiday season, Amazon’s deal will negate plans for at least 1,500 units of affordable housing along Anable Basin, where the HQ2 campus will be located. Amazon is promising to donate campus space for a tech incubator, artists, industrial businesses, and a new school, and the company’s representatives say that the 25,000 jobs it hopes to create will “offset concerns” of community residents about affordable housing.
Those jobs likely will be white-collar desk work, and not the kinds of warehouse product fulfillment jobs where several Amazon employees have died or suffered long-term injury after the company failed to meet safety standards.
“In the last ten to 15 years, Long Island City has gentrified... so there's a lot that's been in motion for the last several decades,” community activist with the Retail Action Project and Queens resident Rachel Laforest told Motherboard. “This just kicks it into gear faster. It moves Queens into the next phase of gentrification. It becomes a space where you have to make a quarter million or more if you want to raise a family here.”
According to rental trends blog Apartment Guide, in November 2017, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Long Island City was $2,780. A year later, rent for a one-bedroom has gone up by 9.5 percent, and a two-bedroom shot up by 14.1 percent.
But the fact of the holiday shopping season is this: If you don’t act fast on deals like HQ2, you’ll miss out.
Dan Zimberg, a labor organizer with South Brooklyn Democratic Socialists of America, said that the community was left out of the process by lawmakers and government representatives. “We were very much focused on what to do towards the end of the campaign and less about this issue because we didn't see it happening so soon,” he told Motherboard. “I think the community, even a lot of the union members, were very much blindsided.”
Perhaps the greatest Black Friday hack of all is to be a billion-dollar private retail monopoly, spread your massive footprint across as many states and greedy politician lobbies as you can, and then do whatever the hell you want once you’ve embedded yourself indelibly into the economy and supply chain infrastructure. See you for Black Friday 2019.