Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Reintroducing Old Friends

Once upon a time, when Columbia was young, her Village Centers hosted an interesting array of shops and eateries. No, I wasn't here, but I have witnessed many reminiscences of the good old days. There was a really cool pub, a cheese shop, a hardware store, an arcade, to name but a few. And these businesses were a part of what gave those early Columbia years such a sense of local flavor. Off-beat. Quirky. Fun.

"What's wrong with Columbia today? I'll tell you," share those who remember what it was like. What's wrong, they say, is that we don't have Mom and Pop businesses anymore. Everything's a big chain. Rents and commercial real estate are controlled by big businesses from out of town and The Little Guy has been squeezed out.

Wouldn't it be great to see a true Mom and Pop business take hold in Columbia? The kind of family business that really puts roots down in a community? Can something like that happen in 2017?

It can. And I hope it does. 

Right now Tom Quick, who owns and operates Cindy's Spirits in Elkridge, is pursuing a license to run a new store in Columbia. Tom and his wife Cindy are well known in the Elkridge community, not only as successful business-owners, but also as supporters of community events and for their charitable contributions. They're really excited about the possibility of the new Columbia location. I hear their son may even join the business when he graduates.

Cindy's is the true Mom and Pop enterprise.

The problem is that the new location is in that much-debated space in the Wegman's complex. We've been down this road before, and it didn't go well. But this time we're looking at a very different set-up. Mr. Quick is known locally, has years of experience, and is committed to the community. 

I have followed the proposal of a liquor store in that space since the beginning and I can tell you two things:

Who wants it?  Consumers.
Who opposes it? An organization of established liquor store owners who are trying to prevent the prospect of competition. 

It's that simple.

Mr. Quick has a hearing before the Hearing Examiner tomorrow.  She'll be evaluating whether the Planning Board was incorrect in determining that a liquor store is not compatible with a grocery store.  I'm hoping she'll correct that determination. 

We can't turn back the clock in Columbia. And I'm not sure I would want to, although time travel would be nice for those of us who missed those halcyon Pioneer Days. But we can take an opportunity to give a genuine Mom and Pop business a chance to make good in the New American City.

It's our hometown. Shouldn't we do what we can to make it more homey?

As always, comments are welcome here:

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