August 27, 2013
Ever since we moved to LaGrange, there’s been a sore spot in our neighborhood. There was an abandoned storefront at the corner of Pyne Road and Roanoke Road, where we passed by nearly every day. It looked terrible. It appeared to be a symbol of decay. We would occasionally see a light inside, and strange cars parked next to each other at odds hours. We called it the “meth lab,” and hoped it was only a joke.
I can’t tell you how happy we were to see some folks working on it over the past few months, and watched it eventually open up as the Discount Food Mart. It looks nice. It’s pretty good inside too. We made a point of buying something there.
We were sad to see Ou La La close, but were happy to see Yama’s come in (a new favorite of mine). It’s good to see Ritzy Roost reclaim a downtown spot.
It served as a strong contrast to what we saw in other places. Take Tallahasse, Florida for example. There was a K-Mart in a pretty good location in town. Nothing seemed wrong at the store; it always received a good amount of traffic. But I guess it wasn’t the same at the national headquarters, and so they made the decision to shut down the store.
Nobody else moved in to the K-Mart lot, despite its prime location and previous success at drawing in customers. It just sat there, driving down the value of other businesses in the area. Meanwhile, further away, other K-Mart style companies were being carved out of the nice forest, forcing us to drive further away, while parts of Tallahassee that could have used the business, suffered. I kept wondering why someone didn’t offer a few incentives to help someone make the old K-Mart place look a little better.
There’s also an environmental component. I’m talking about not ripping up a section of nature to build something when a perfectly good piece of land and decent location is already available. I’m talking about not making a town into something where you have to drive further and further out of your way to get what you need, and keeps things closer to the center.
Perhaps this is another chance for me to thank whoever had the idea to revitalize the downtown area, attract the theater, restaurant businesses, things for the kids to do, and hold activities in the place. Even if the war isn’t won, I’m glad that battles are being fought.
My wife is a big fan of those television shows where people buy an old house and fix it up to look like new, and then put down roots or put it on the market for a profit. A colleague of mine from the Washington, DC area used to do that because he and his wife liked to spend weekends working with his hands (and tools), “flipping” houses before the term was invented. It would be nice to give folks who do that a little break on their bottom line when it comes to tax time.
I’m sure some of you are reading this, saying “Hey, the Discount Food Mart isn’t the only place that fixed up an abandoned business and made the neighborhood a little better!” You would be absolutely correct. And you should shop there too, just as you should patronize those places that keep their doors open, hire locals, offer something good to the customers, and plug the money back into LaGrange rather than some “click” company halfway across America.