Recent letters to the Northeaster editor regarding the loss of Central Avenue businesses have been very negative. Whether it be Porky’s or Burger King, our community becomes less vibrant and more blighted as a result of such closings. It is abundantly clear, the economic recession has severely impacted small business communities across America; while recessions might come and go, what never changes is the fact that small businesses need to be supported by local residents.
In a small town in Northern Minnesota, rumors circulated about the possible closing of the town’s only supermarket. Efforts to awaken many residents to the real economic impact of losing such a store proved fruitless as every day cars left town heading 18 miles to the west to patronize a chain box store, all in the hopes of saving a dollar or two and never minding the fact that most figures say the current operating cost of a vehicle is $1.45 per mile.
When the rumors became reality and the neighborhood supermarket closed, the town was astonished. Local high school kids lost their part-time jobs, the town butcher of 30 years had no place to go, and the blight of a boarded-up supermarket on Main Street presented the antithesis of the vibrant direction to which the town aspired.
Northeast Minneapolis is a small town, or so many refer to it this way. And like any small town, Northeast businesses need local patrons; whether it be going green at our wonderful Eastside Food Co-op, feeling the delightful unity evidenced at the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market in the parking lot of St. Boniface Church, taking in a live performance at the historic Ritz, or getting a tutorial on fresh cut meats from Eric the Butcher at the nearly century-old Sentyrz’s Supermarket.
Community is defined by neighbors coming together to support and celebrate all of the good things about community. And Northeast has so much to offer. Many years ago, the owner of a small privately owned gas station (independents as they were called) told me he once asked my late father, a small business owner himself, why he continued to patronize his gas station while driving by emerging chain stores where gas sold for 10 cents less per gallon. My father replied simply, "Because I want to see you here in our community." So when our next purchasing need comes along, let’s keep in mind how much the local business merchants will appreciate our patronage. And Northeast will continue to thrive.