By Jeffrey Buck
It’s taken me a lot longer than I expected to come up with a way to get the ball rolling on this “blog.” I put blog in quotations because the stories and posts Mike and I will be composing aren’t all going to fall in that “typical blog” category. I think I speak for the both of us when I say that we hope to inject a journalistic approach to as much of the content as we can.
With that said, I’d like to welcome you to The Woodward Spine, a diverse collection of opinion, news, entertainment, history and development posts that will be informative and gripping.
Continuing with our ultra-local theme, I’d like to share a website I came across that was launched last year, but is still very relevant today.
The goal of the 3/50 Project is to promote the idea that if a person shops at three independently owned local businesses spending $50 per month, $68 of every $100 spent is returned to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures.
After perusing through the website, it got me thinking about something I tend to hear from people I know or read in the newspaper when a store or restaurant in the community is shuttered or is on the verge of closing.
“I can’t believe that place is closing, man. I really loved it there.”
Not to discount those sentiments, but people really should be asking themselves if they could have done anything more to support said business. How many times did you visit? Better yet, of those visits, how many times did you make an actual purchase?
Look, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of this as well. Those who spent time in downtown Royal Oak during its early 1990s renaissance days may recall Dave’s Comics, a store that sold novelty items from comics to clothing. I was a frequent visitor of the store for years and the only items I ever bought were a Star Wars figurine and my “The Fonz” poster. However, as I have gotten older it’s become apparent to me how valuable places like these are.
Some of the more important points that come to my mind are as follows:
1. The owner of the store/restaurant more than likely lives in the same community or one of it’s neighboring cities. There’s a good chance they could live on your block or even right next door. It gives a sense of connection to the establishment you won’t find shopping at big discount department stores like Wal-Mart or eating at chain restaurants like Applebee’s.
2. The trend today seems to be a push for a more walkable community; a neighborhood where you don’t have to drive far to get dinner—or even drive at all. These smaller establishments are vital in making that a reality. Prices may be higher due to their higher costs of doing business, but the thought of losing an anchor in your neighborhood that provides that personal touch and atmosphere should outweigh that.
3. These owners are helping the community in other ways by giving time, money and volunteers to city baseball leagues, charities and other worthy causes throughout the year. I can remember all of the different hats worn by different teams during city baseball, many of which bore the logo of local business.
These are only a few. It’s going to be my goal to try and follow this trend, not only in Royal Oak but some of my favorite places in other cities like Detroit and Ferndale. If this catches on it has the potential to do wonders for our area. Join Me.
Point #2 got me thinking.
Community Walkability may carry more value than simply making life more convenient.
Digging around a little bit, this report from last summer argues that the anchor-esque establishments are providing more than a personal touch and a great atmosphere.
Click to access WalkingTheWalk_CEOsforCities.pdf
The report is a bit extensive but one thing caught my eye.
“Houses with the above-average levels of walkability command a premium of about $4,000 to $34,000 over houses with just average levels of walkability in the typical metropolitan
It seems that paying a slight premium to support local businesses might actually end up paying off for more than the business owners and the community.
Higher home values are obviously good for the individual, but they also increase the taxes heading back to the local governments, which in turn, allows for further funding of the public services that attracted private local businesses into a neighborhood.
This cyclical effect has the potential to truly bolster a struggling local economy as JB aptly points out.
I hope your points resonate as deeply with my fellow readers as they have with me.
Looking forward to more from The Woodward Spine.
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