Posts tagged ‘small business development’
I went out for a walk through the Woodside neighborhood tonight with my wife, checking out the fall colors and thinking of home back in northern Ontario. On the way back to my condo in downtown Silver Spring we stopped at the grocery store for some steak and veggies. Walking past Veterans Plaza, we passed something extraordinary. I did a double-take.
Right there, across from the movie theatre entrance, was an older gentleman with an Italian accent and a vendor license around his neck selling roasted nuts. Amazing. I was transported back to the streets of Toronto and the smell of entrepreneurs selling roasted chestnuts on so many street corners. Then I realized. Silver Spring and Montgomery County have arrived.
His selection was terrific. I went for the roasted almonds with sweet coating. Two bucks and worth every penny. The only downside is I now know this fellow is there and will change my route home to Fenton Street so I can pass him again. At two bucks a day, five days a week, I figure I will spend $40 a month on roasted almonds. Fortunately, that’s less than a monthly bill for cable television, which I’ve never had.
Some of my staff have patronized an African food vendor for lunch at Colesville and Georgia. It’s part of a welcome trend. But we need more of them.
The nut vendor is great. Stop by, buy some nuts and let him know that he is a true pioneer in retailing and culture. For when you get people like this setting up on the sidewalk, it is the sign. The Holy Grail. When a street vendor sets up to sell roasted nuts, it means you have something. And that something is what all the great places in the world have. This is real economic development. And we all need to support him and the faith, courage and boldness he has to be among the first.
Sure, you can have movie theatres and chain stores anywhere, but they are supported by hundreds around the country while they get established. This guy has no other outlet or franchise. He deserves our patronage.
Montgomery County has more folks like him. We were filming for an upcoming cable show in Wheaton the other day and I found a source for Italian tuna (there is no going back once you have had Italian tuna). Marchone’s Deli is on the alley facing parking lot 13 on the north side of Reedie Drive. I went in because I heard the proprietor himself had lunched on that same tuna. Sure enough, the tuna was on a shelf on the grocery side of the deli. I bought four cans. The owner was amazed at my fondness for the tuna and his Genovese sausage, so he threw in some fresh bread, gratis, to munch with the tuna. Retailing at the grass routes. We discussed my 61 Alfa convertible (sadly now sold) and he asked if I was Italian. He immediately won a repeat customer.
There is so much diversity in our retailing, yet so many folks are drawn to the big stores. Yet, it is the small businesses that can be our strength. They can draw people to places like Wheaton, Long Branch and Takoma Langley. The more we support the small papusa shop, the more people will take a chance on opening a new shop or restaurant.
See this interview with the co-owner of Hollywood East. Janet Yu has transformed her family restaurant into a Wheaton institution.
One of the great things about shopping in places like Paris is not the big chain stores but the small patisseries, clothing stores and wine shops. I always wonder how these businesses make a living in only 40 square metres (410 square feet). We are so programmed to the 15,000-square-foot bakery or 20,000-square-foot clothing chain store. The answer is simple. The people of cities like Paris, Vienna, San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal, and Pittsburgh support these great adventurers in retailing.
Soon, we will post the presentations from our recent speaker series session on diversity. Several of the shows highlighted the diverse retailing east county has to offer that so many of us overlook. Ever eaten chicken on New Hampshire? Shop at the food emporium on Fenton south of Bonifant? What about the spices in an Indian market in the heart of Takoma Langley or a breakfast sandwich in Wheaton on Saturday morning?
Try it. This is the future of the county and it is terrific.