Monday, May 4, 2015

How The City Could Save Bessemer Curb Market Without Giving Away Money

Today's News & Record article, Bessemer Curb Market fights to stay open laments to woes of owner Harold Powell whose long time business is struggling:

"Meat and produce are this market’s specialty. But owner Harold Powell isn’t selling it like he used to. He said competition from the nearby Wal-Mart, as well as an aging building that limits what he can sell and a generation less interested in cooking are all hurting his store, which has been open for more than 60 years.

“Honestly, it’s sort of day-by-day,” the 68-year-old Powell said last week. “If things don’t change, we may have to close our doors.”

I've spent my soon to be 59 years in the Bessemer Community and would hate to see the Bessemer Curb Market fail. Even worse, I don't want to see it turned into the type of convenience store that trades wine and beer for food stamps like every other convenience store in town.

Every time I mention Bessemer Aquaponics to others they tell me I should do a Go Fund Me campaign. Problem is: Go Fund Me campaigns require video production skills that I simply don't have. What am I supposed to do, spend a few years in school pursuing a degree in a field I only plan to use once? Hire a video production company with money I don't have. The truth is: most companies using Go Fund Me and other online funding platforms had a bit of money or financial backing to start with. People, businesses or groups who are broke are not-- as a rule-- using online funding platforms.

But Bessemer Curb Market would be the perfect candidate for an online funding campaign if Harold or someone had the means. I bet he could rake in 3-4 times as much as he needs and defiantly more than he could ever get out of the city. People all over the nation love Bessemer Curb Market but don't live here anymore. But alas, I'm betting an old Bessemer boy like Harold, like myself, hasn't the means nor the ability to manage an online funding campaign.

That's sad because I was really hoping Bessemer Curb Market would become one of the retailers of fresh, locally grown fish and produce from Bessemer Aquaponics right down the street at prices that would allow Harold to compete with Walmart.

Seriously folks, Bessemer Curb Market predates the area's incorporation into the City of Greensboro.

Instead of bemoaning the fact that the City Gave Deep Roots $100,000 Harold could join with Deep Roots, the Renaissance Community Coop and other local retailers in a cooperative buying arrangement just like his father did at Bi-Rite all those years ago.

But first we need to figure out how to keep Harold in business.

I guess we could find some folks with big hearts and big wallets to hire an experienced video production company to put together a Go Fund Me campaign and put it online for Harold. That would work. But what about the next worthwhile project? Will those same few people reach in their pockets again?

Guess who has video production personell, equipment, an economic development team, an economic development budget, experts and the whole 9 yards all sitting around claiming to be working on economic development for Greensboro and drawing paychecks while Harold goes broke and Greensboro dies?

That's right, the City of Greensboro. And we don't have to give Harold a penny of taxpayers' money if we tell the story as it should be told.

That. my friends, is economic development.

Hope to see you all Wednesday night at Bessemer Aquaponics to talk about more economic development and healthy food for Greensboro.