I’ve lived in Charlottesville Virginia now for about 8 years and one of the great things I love about it is the Corner community. I have a bar I like, there is a good music at the Satellite Ballroom where I plan on seeing They Might Be Giants this month. We’ve got lots of local businesses and restaurants where you feel like you’re experiencing something unique and your money goes to local people you know and like.
Then you hear crappy news like 4 local businesses are going to get shut down to put in a national chain store like a CVS and it’s like a punch in the gut. In this case, the Corner is losing Plan9 (our local record store), Higher Grounds (the non-Starbucks coffee joint), the Satellite Ballroom (the last remaining music venue on the corner), and Just Curry (the best meal you can get in under a minute not to mention the source of my favorite local ad).
This just breaks my heart. 4 local businesses gone, and probably a couple more after CVS drives out the local competition. I realize this is just capitalism at work. The landlord will surely enjoy a regular check from a national corporation rather than rely on 4 locals whose business may fluctuate with the economy. But still, just the complete absence of consideration of what this will do to the community, to these local business owners, and just for the culture of the Corner is so disappointing. After all, what do we get out of this move? Another convenience store to join the 3 others on the corner (which likely will also sink)? Another CVS to join the half-dozen others scattered about town? And what do we lose? We’re losing what I think is the best music venue in town in terms of cost, variety (everything from local to national bands), and location (the only one on the corner), a great independent music store with wifi access and coffee shop that’s fun to hang out in, and an awesome little restaurant. I wish the landowners involved would think a little more about what impact their decisions have on the community rather than just their individual self-interest as naive as that sounds.
Worse yet, since it is the Corner our local news magazines the C-Ville and the Hook will likely ignore it since they rarely pay attention to what happens in the Corner/student district. I hope they decide to slum it for a while, come down here, and start reporting on this disaster because once businesses like this leave, they’re gone forever. Otherwise one day I’ll return to Charlottesville and the culture that once made it so interesting will be gone. If we don’t stand up for our local businesses our little community will one day consist of nothing but Starbucks and Applebee’s. I’ve lived in towns like that before, it sucks, trust me.