August 11, 2009
Over lunch with my friend Melea Seward I told her that a favorite restaurant in my neighborhood had closed and said that if the owners had let people know there would almost certainly have been a community effort to keep it in business. We talked about the gap between how privately small businesses are organized and how socially important they are. We wondered if anything can be done so that restaurants, dry cleaners, delis, shoemakers and the like don’t suddenly disappear because they keep their financial troubles private. We thought of a few things that folks in the neighborhood and customers could do if they were aware of a potential closing—gather signatures on a petition to landlords, organize a campaign to bring new customers, offer in an organized way to pay 10% more for one week or one month…
And today, a nice story from Melea: “Vox Pop (a cafe in Ditmas Park Brooklyn) almost went out of business, told people, and now folks in the neighborhood own shares of the cafe–it’s become a coop of sorts.”
Can this idea spread? Do you have ideas or stories to share?