ypsilanti’s position on franchises

A few days ago, in my post about the Shadow Art Fair, I took the opportunity to go off on a tangent about how I’d like to have us, the citizens of Ypsilanti, look into the passage of legislation that would keep chain stores and franchises out of our historic downtown. I wasn’t clear on the specifics as to how something like this might be accomplished, and didn’t offer any illustrative examples of other communities where such things have been attempted in the past. Basically, I just shot my mouth off, and then quickly moved on to something else.

At the very least, I should have done a bit of research into other towns where such things have been put to a vote, and how property owners responded. I should have also called around to see whether or not something like what I’m suggesting is even feasible under Michigan law. (Doing that, however, would have kept me away from my important research on things like the proper application of Presidential back rubs and the proper training regimen for
European masturbate-a-thons.
) So, as I do too often, I just kind of tossed the idea out there like it was something that could easily be done, and then walked away, without acknowledging the complexity, or the other points of view. Fortunately, a few readers of this site were not so lame. One of the more interesting responses was this one from a man that I will call Mr. X. Here, with his approval, is the relevant part of his letter.

The whole anti-chain thing is a risky position to take. I grew up near Ligonier, PA. It’s a small, very affluent / Republican town just outside of Pittsburgh. A lot of Pittsburgh executives come there to retire. The most dominant family is the Mellon family of Mellon Bank and Carnegie Mellon University fame. The patriarch at the moment is Richard Mellon Scaife. He’s the publisher of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. You may remember him as President Clinton’s number one enemy. He bankrolled the whole notion that when Clinton was governor of Arkansas, Little Rock was port for most of the drugs into the US.

Ligonier has a similar policy on chains as you are suggesting. There has always been a Dairy Queen there, but it’s beautiful as compared to a traditional DQ Brazier and went more by the name “The Gay 90s” than it did Dairy Queen. In 1988, there was a big scandal when a Subway was allowed to move in to the outskirts of the business district. (It was probably as far from the downtown as Harriet Street is from Michigan Avenue.) There are no McDonalds or other franchises in town. It’s a bustling downtown, but probably too antique-y for your tastes. Regardless, it’s indie in Ligonier.

The idea behind their ban on franchises was not to keep the downtown independent as much as it was snobbery. I know that’s not the position you’re taking, but in a town with a reputation of having a City government that hard on businesses, I’m not sure putting even more restrictions on growth is such a good idea.

I keep hearing how everyone wants to keep Starbucks off of Michigan Avenue. Starbucks isn’t coming to Ypsi. While I appreciate the concern, I believe in order for any idea to work there has to be a business case backed with solid numbers. At the moment, we don’t have enough business for Starbucks to be interested, but more importantly, we don’t have a space big enough to house them. For someone like Starbucks to invest more than $1M in our downtown, they are going to need a large space. The only two spaces I can think of are the first floor of the Kresge building or Dalat (the old Smith Furniture building is for sale for $1.5M and the ground floor of BW3 is across the street from a strip club — probably not the image Starbucks likes to project). The Kresge building is becoming a restaurant. Dalat is still there for now, but was for sale for around $1.1M. Can you imagine the money they’d have to dump into that place in order to get the aluminum siding off? Starbucks stores are very homogenized and all have pretty much the same look. They aren’t going to set up shop in a place that looks like Dalat currently does.

If anyone disagrees with my analysis, I’d love to see a list of sites that could house a Starbucks. For the math to work, the space has to be big too. I’d prefer to leave potential sites in the Water Street development out of this for the moment. While I agree that could be the eventual location for a Starbucks, the business case for Water Street doesn’t exist yet either and suggesting that for a potential site is premature at best.

Look at Sandee and Bill French. They have Aubrees and Cady’s in Depot Town. They also have an Aubree’s Pizza in Ypsi Township, one in Ann Arbor, and one in Traverse City. I would definitely consider them local and independent. If they weren’t located here, how would you feel about them wanting to open a branch in Ypsi? Maybe the better example would have been La Shish. When does a successful independent business become chain-like? Would the community have welcomed a La Shish to downtown?

Quiznos became the whipping-boy for franchises in Ypsilanti yet we have a McDonalds, a KFC, a Subway, a Taco Bell, two Dairy Queens, an Ace Hardware, a handful of pizza joints, a NAPA auto parts, a Sherwin-Williams, THREE national income tax businesses, a cell phone store, a prominent gentlemen’s club, and at least half a dozen gas stations. Did anyone boycott the Frenchs for renting space to Quiznos? I sure didn’t hold it against them.

Again, I’m with you on the whole no franchises thing, but legislating it at this point may do more harm to Ypsilanti’s reputation than good. (I can see where it will be a good idea in the future though.) I don’t know if you heard the story but when Liquid Swordz were trying to move their tattoo parlor from Perrin to N Washington, they had to go before the Planning Commission to make their case. I went to that meeting and spoke on their behalf trying to make the case they would fit in with other businesses in the area and tattoos fit into the “Cool Cities” genre more than anything else this City was backing. The most startling thing of that whole meeting was the Mayor spoke against them moving. She didn’t say they shouldn’t be allowed to move there, but she asked the Planning Commission to consider whether or not a tattoo parlor there was in the best interests of the community.

Can you imagine that? The figurehead of our City government speaking out AGAINST local businesses. It was frustrating for me — someone sans tattoos. Can you imagine how demoralizing that must be for someone wanting to open a business here? The minutes of that meeting can be found here.

Her official comment was “It is for retail — it is a land use issue. Would a tattoo establishment on N. Washington Street add or detract from the vibrant retail mix that we are hoping to put together — that would be the question.”

I’m not trying to change your opinion on franchises. Again, I’m not in favor of them, but I’m not sure it’s prudent to come out against any type of business at a time when we are trying to overcome our reputation as a city of being hard on businesses.

I respect Mr. X’s opinion and I understand why it is that he’s torn on the issue. I am too, to some extent. I know where he’s coming from when he says that we’re not really in any position to turn away business, especially as new businesses would most likely be coming in and rehabbing long-vacant buildings. I get that. I also get that they might create a few new jobs, maybe even ones that pay slightly over the minimum wage and offer benefits (after a few years of service).

I was just suggesting that the short-term benefit may not be in our best interest in the long-term. Ann Arbor, Plymouth and any number of other local town centers in our area are losing their individual character at a rapid pace, and I don’t want to see it happen here. Maybe I’m not the norm, but I’d much rather get a cup of coffee at the Ugly Mug (even though they don’t seem too happy to have my business for some reason) than at Starbuck’s. And, while we’re on the subject of Starbuck’s, I disagree with Mr. X when he says that it’ll never happen here. It will. Starbucks needs to grow to survive and they’ll find a way into Ypsi.

And this wasn’t the only comment on the subject. A note was also left by Lisa from the group Think Local First. She had this to say:

In regards to keeping Ypsi chain/franchise free, a variety of localities have passed formula business ordinances (including a neighborhood in San Francisco), which either ban or require neighborhood approval to locate a ‘formula’ business. I’m not sure how it would work with the laws in Michigan – a few people have mentioned that this might be more difficult in Michigan than elsewhere. I never looked into it because when I first mentioned the idea in Ann Arbor it wasn’t warmly received. However, it might be worth a discussion in Ypsilanti. If you’re interested I have all sorts of information about this and other options for encouraging local ownership of businesses.

So, maybe it’s a dumb idea. Maybe we don’t need to erect any more roadblocks to job creation right now. I just think that we should have an open, honest discussion about it now, and go into this with our eyes open. If we don’t discuss it now, after all, it’s not like we’ll get another chance later on.

Oh, and a third comment came in as well. Steve Cherry wrote in to suggest that if we don’t like franchises, we just shouldn’t shop at them. He’s right to some extent. It worked in the case of Quizno’s. I just don’t share his faith that the people driving through our town on Michigan Avenue will share our sensibilities. Once a Starbuck’s-shaped tumor forms there, it’s staying.

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37 Comments

  1. ol' e cross
    Posted July 21, 2006 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    My first thought when you alluded to the no chain thing was Congdon’s Ace Hardware. It’s one of my favorite Ypsi businesses with service that defies what we all think of as chain.

    I’ve got no idea how to craft something that would exclude CVS but allow ACE. It also strikes me that while chains can destroy character, they can also benefit neighborhoods.

    Until a few years ago, there wasn

  2. trusty getto
    Posted July 21, 2006 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    This is going to come across more critical than intended, but I think that a ban on a type of business (even if for good reasons), is at its heart, nothing more than a value judgment. Livonians want to keep Wal-Mart out of their town, we want to keep Starbucks away. The motives might be different, but the desire to impose our values on others remains. Isn’t that pretty much what paternalism and self-righteousness or, as said above, snobbishness, are all about?

    If you start into some kind of litmus test for what business can be here and what can’t, it seems to me you open up a Pandora’s box that at the very least will premise investing on the whims of whatever current political climate prevails. Or worse, whatever vocal minority of the moment prevails. I don’t think that’s a good idea under any circumstances.

    One would hope that in a locality such as ours, success would be premised on local businesses catering to local residents, and any attempt to open a chain would be met with indifference and a decided lack of clientele. I frequent my local businesses, and perhaps our town could do more to encourage this type of economic activity.

    Aubrey’s is now a chain. ACE is a chain. I wouldn’t want a successful business in Ypsi to zone itself out of the area merely because it decided to franchise itself after enjoying a measure of success. That seems unfair to businesses that may want to come here and unfair to those of us that would love to see them start up here.

    So, while I don’t want a Macaroni Grill, I’m also not certain I would want the side effects of banning it, particularly since I don’t see anything like that showing up in the near future.

  3. egpenet
    Posted July 21, 2006 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    There are a lot of ways to slice this baby in half.

    First, I’d like to know what types of businesses/products/ services they want. Armed with that list, we can go promoting the city. Solid bottom-up market research is what we need.

    Second,locally-owned makes a big difference to me. I like the variety of middle eastern, asian and european markets near Packard & Platt: most owned by folks living in the vicinity.

    Third, there is a lot of plain old office space available for all varieties of businesses which may not have a retail face.

    Fourth, getting back to retail, which is a subject dependent upon the marketing survey: we need the City to allow our neighborhoods to attract truly walkable retail development for those little corner markets and specialty shops to meet our needs … Jefferson Street Market in A2 is one example. But not just party stores … though some party stores owners may be willing to upgrade if a need was expressed.

    Bottom line … if we do not support local business, the game’s over. There are many local business owners who complain they seldom see locals in their establishments. Some of them say, “Beware of candidates who say support business and who have never set foot in their stores.” That’s a bit like George Bush having someone demonstrate how to use a gas pump at a filling station. Sad, but true.

  4. Dr Cherry
    Posted July 21, 2006 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    .. to attract truly walkable retail development for those little corner markets and specialty shops to meet our needs ..

    Officials made it abundantly clear to me that “those little corner markets” aren’t part of the city’s vision. Ypsilanti’s Zoning Master Plan pretty much takes care of them with it’s suburban-style zoning.

    Since Ypsi has no supermarket we shopped at Von’s in the township. I don’t recall ever seeing a city offical in the Mexican food isle (or any other). Most people we met shopped in Pittsfield Township or Ann Arbor.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted July 22, 2006 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I have mixed feelings on this issue. Being a business owner in Depot Town, I would hate to see a Starbucks, Coldstone, or another sandwich shop come into depot town. No matter how much local support there is for my business having a chain store would hurt me. On the other side though, adding regulations would get messy no matter how you do it, and that wouldnt be good for the city. I have found the best way to attract local customers is to listen to what they want. Last month I switched to all organic coffees for our coffee and espresso drinks. Since we have a large following of vegetarians, I had received a number of comments that they would like to have organic coffee available. Being an independent I can make changes like that easily when my market demands it. A chain store is pretty much stuck with the cookie cutter approach to their business and cant easily meet the demands of the customer.

    I think the more important thing is to work on making the community aware of the all the independent options that are available in Ypsi. I have been hanging out a lot at the corner brewery, and I meet so many locals there that don’t even know my place exists, so finding some way of bringing that kind of information to the local community would really help the businesses. I know I will always go to an independent business if I am aware of them. Even with my business I buy my coffee, bread, and meats from independent businesses. I get better quality and better service than going through one of the national suppliers. When I go out to eat, I always go to one of the other businesses around me. I think the more I do to help the other businesses, the more it helps the area, an in turn the more it helps my businesses.

  6. Lisa
    Posted July 22, 2006 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Ace can be explained by one simple thing: it’s not a chain. Ace and Do-It-Best (Stadium Hardware, Jack’s) are both hardware cooperatives that locally-owned independent businesses can choose to become part of to buy goods in bulk. The Ace Cooperative Board has chosen to encourage its members to have a standard look, which is one of the reasons people think it’s a chain. Actually it’s funny – when I was wandering Ypsi asking local businesses if they wanted to be listed in our 2006/2007 directory last week, I had a conversation with the fellow who owns Ace about the fact that people don’t realize he’s not part of a chain or franchise.

    I have mixed feelings about a retail ordinance myself. I think the emphasis should be on carrots, not sticks. Basically, encouraging people (especially those who might not have thought through local vs. chain) to buy at independent businesses, letting them know where they are and what they offer, making those businesses as good as possible, and bringing in new businesses where appropriate. Market research can help with that as well as tell you the best way to actually get community members to change their shopping behavior toward locally-owned businesses. Oh, and making sure businesses know that there are other options to becoming a chain if they are successful and want to grow.

    Think Local First is launching a bigger buy-local campaign in Washtenaw County this fall (mainly Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti). I’d really love to have a very specific Ypsilanti part to that campaign, but obviously that would be most effective if it was driven by Ypsi business owners and community members. I can tell you what lots of other communities have done in communities across the U.S. as well as share market research ideas if people are interested in doing this.

  7. schutzman
    Posted July 22, 2006 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    As has already been pointed out, I think some clarification needs to be made between cooperatives, franchises, and true “Chains.” The latter, if nationally owned and managed from a central location (such as in Little Rock), is by far the most offensive and I think what we would all most like to see less of here.

    I don’t foresee a city-wide ban being possible, but I have always felt that offering some considerable tax breaks to locals who want to start businesses in town might be a partial solution to the problem. As for the matter of a garish chain store moving into downtown, well, that’s when I’d expect the Historic District Commission to really start earning their keep, by enforcing an aestheticism that most cookie-cutter businesses wouldn’t want to bother following.

    I also think some sort of rent caps are needed as it seems only large national companies will be able to afford many of the available spaces. I don’t know of any city locally that’s tried to do this, and it would obviously be branded as socialist by some, but landlords are purposely setting the bar at a level most ypsilanitans can’t afford, as they’d prefer to see a chain move in. Thus, non-democratically-elected property owners, many from out of town, are the ones who are really controlling the city’s future, as it is now.

    Dennis Dahlman, anyone?

  8. Lisa
    Posted July 22, 2006 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Ah..ownership. This is what it really comes down to – who owns the property, and are they people who have a vested interest in Ypsilanti’s success as a whole? I too don’t have the answer to that. I’d love to see a business/community land trust for downtown buildings myself.

    It’s also worth noting that franchises themselves vary a lot. Places like Quiznos and Subway are not corporate owned (the owner sometimes is local, and sometimes does work in the franchise on a day-to-day basis), but need to follow strict agreements about where they buy their food from and what they sell and how things look. However, some franchise agreements (namely small franchises) give the franchisee a name and logo, and a couple of basic rules to follow, and basically lets the franchise buy from where it wants to to and operate the business the way it sees fit. The main advantage to that type of franchise is the connection to other business owners running similar businesses, and a somewhat easier time starting up the business. So…just one more thing to consider.

  9. egpenet
    Posted July 22, 2006 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    If the neighbors insist on having small neighborhood stores, it WILL happen. If it becomes a tussle, a tussle it shall be. It will happen. We will trade where we want to trade. And more and more of us want to trade within walking/biking distance of our homes with locally-owned businesses offering the products, services, entertainment, etc. we desire. I-N-D-I-E! Bottom UP!

  10. ChelseaL
    Posted July 22, 2006 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    I have to admit, I have not read everything that you posted about this, nor everything readers wrote. Just wanted to mention that Woodstock, Vermont, has virtually no chains (well, there is a Ben & Jerry’s). However, Woodstock is a very wealthy town, and depends on tourism.

  11. Dr Cherry
    Posted July 22, 2006 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    If the neighbors insist on having small neighborhood stores, it WILL happen. If it becomes a tussle, a tussle it shall be. It will happen. We will trade where we want to trade. And more and more of us want to trade within walking/biking distance of our homes with locally-owned businesses offering the products, services, entertainment, etc. we desire.

    You’d better get down to the meetings because your City Planner has other ideas. Ypsilanti has already downzoned everything to the point where there won’t be necessary density to support small, local stores.

    If any of those corner stores close or burn, any new use will have to be residential.

  12. mark
    Posted July 22, 2006 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Lisa, if you’ve ever got the time and interest, maybe I could help set up a little meeting here in Ypsi with you, a handfull of bloggers, a few local business owners and some other assorted folks… Once the mayoral debate is over, I’ll be looking for something new to work on, and I really do think that this is a dialogue worth starting.

  13. murph
    Posted July 22, 2006 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    Lisa beat me to the Ace Hardware correction – but I’ll stress that, not only is Ace _not_ a chain, Ace is an organization specifically set up to help independant hardware stores compete with chains.

    My question with limiting “chains” would be where to draw the line. Not everything is going to be a consumer-owned cooperative (imho, the most pure form of local business). One step up is the only-one inependant business. Then the folks who have been successful enough to open multiple businesses, like Sweetwaters in A2, or Aubrees in Ypsi. (What about the Greffs? Building a second business on the success of the first – starts to smell like a chain.) Then the “chains” and franchises – people successful enough to open several businesses, or have other people open businesses in the same name.

    How big is too big? Would we block Hillers from opening in Ypsi? Buschs? I don’t like the idea of attempting to ban chains because it seems too arbitrary a line to try to work into law. I’d rather, like Lisa, work on a more grassroots, individual basis.

    And I’d disagree with Dr. Cherry’s fatalistic attitude towards certain decisions made. But I suppose that’s why I’ve moved into Ypsi and he’s moved out…

  14. Dr Cherry
    Posted July 22, 2006 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    nd I’d disagree with Dr. Cherry’s fatalistic attitude towards certain decisions made. But I suppose that’s why I’ve moved into Ypsi and he’s moved out…

    I don’t think my attitude is exactly fatalistic, but perhaps extremely direct. In my experience, the “tussle” with city government ended when the solitary citizen’s three minutes were up, followed by Mayor Farmer thanking them for their comments.

    When we were attending meetings in Ypsilanti the thinking was density equals crime therefore density is bad. I sincerely hope you all can change some minds down there. We couldn’t even get anyone to attend meetings with us.

  15. egpenet
    Posted July 23, 2006 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    The “tussel” refers to backroom, late night phone call “deals,” and “handshake” agreements that have been all too common in recent years. I am confident that the City will support whatever retail environment the citizens desiree, provided that UNLIKE IN THE PAST … the citizens will actually support retailers and other services in town. Spend local, folks! Or elsee you’ll get the environment (like the government) you deserve.

  16. murph
    Posted July 23, 2006 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    As I understand the Cross Street area rezoning (where our house is), nothing’s been pushed down – even the handful of properties that’re now non-conforming would be allowed to be rebuilt under the rezoning. Density could easily increase; our house and three of the four neighboring properties are 1-unit; the fourth is a duplex; under the new zoning, each of the 1-units could become a duplex. I don’t think that every property on the block needs to become a four- or six-plex in order to support local businesses!

    I think that a better way of building critical mass will be infill (re)development of the various vacant land we’ve got scattered about. Water Street could realistically be breaking ground with the spring thaw, and current plans include 500-600 residences – I think I calculated it at 13-16 units/acre, gross (including the streets, commercial space, and park areas). Not too bad.

    Not that I completely disagree with Dr. Cherry’s complaints – I’ve heard that some want to push the zoning down still further around here, and I hear plenty of demonizing of students and renters. Six months ago, I was both – I don’t think that I was all that undesireable a citizen so recently.

  17. Dave
    Posted July 23, 2006 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    I dunno, Murph, you look kinda disreputable to me.

  18. mark
    Posted July 23, 2006 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Murph, I should point out to everyone, has a ponytail. And, I believe I have seen him walking around town in flip-flops… If I didn’t know him, I’d be terrified.

  19. trusty getto
    Posted July 23, 2006 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    “Water Street could realistically be breaking ground with the spring thaw . . .”

    Now there’s an optimist for you. I’m marking my calendar now. ;)

    Thx for the correction on ACE. I didn’t know that, but it is fascinating and quite a terrific thing.

    Aside from what we would like, isn’t there a significant question about what retail will want to come here, particularly to Water Street once it’s finished? We can’t seem to keep our current downtown occupied with successful businesses (e.g. Sunday’s). Now that I think of it, I can’t count the failed or disappeared businesses from downtown on just my fingers anymore. What’s the basis for thinking we will magically fill up Water Street with viable, hoppin’ retail while the rest of downtown isn’t fully occupied with vibrant businesses?

    What if the only businesses that show interest are things like Quizno’s and Starbuck’s?

  20. mark
    Posted July 23, 2006 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    So, who wants to start a

  21. ol' e cross
    Posted July 24, 2006 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    I just went to the new Jimmy John’s (TM) on Cross Street and ate their #8 Billy Club (TM). I immediately began to shit blood. I ran down the street to Town Cafe, smoked a hookah, and the bleeding stopped!

  22. Lisa
    Posted July 24, 2006 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Hm… now I’m thinking about the possibility of a consumer cooperative selling everything a person can’t buy downtown or Depot Town. There have been a few towns that have created ones that have sort of been a ‘General-Mart’, though generally its been either to create an alternative to a new Wal-Mart or because a Wal-Mart closed and they didn’t have anywhere to buy things.

    Mark – a meeting would be great! I know there is also a group from a newly forming neighborhood association that contacted me as well, and might be interested.

    Lisa

    p.s. When I ran into Murph at the Shadow Art Fair after not seeing him for a while, I thought to myself – “Wow, he looks like such a better, more responsible citizen now. I wonder why that is?” Now I know…

  23. Jennyfurann
    Posted July 24, 2006 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Cross St rezoning –
    I live in that section of Cross St. My house was a duplex before we bought it and now we’re converting it back to a single family home. In the future if we sold it, it could return to a duplex pretty easily… I’m happy that the homes around me will stay homes if something happens to them, rather than being rebuilt as apartment complexes.

    Another, albeit small, part of the chains vs local arguement – restaurants. New restaurants often have a difficult time opening with liquor licenses due to their limited quantity. Licenses usually go to the highest bidder, and if you’re going up against a chain (like an Applebee’s, etc.) then chances are, they have more money to throw at it than a brand new business will. While this isn’t a very big part of the overall arguement, it often has a large impact because restaurants go such a long way into defining a town to non-locals. Tourists may not make it to the hardware store, but chances are they will get something to eat while they are here. Especially important in a town trying to define themselves with so many festivals.

  24. Tony Buttons Esq.
    Posted July 24, 2006 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    I bit into a condom full of maggots at Jimmy John’s once. It had been smushed flat between two slices of bologna.

  25. ol' e cross
    Posted July 24, 2006 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    A question for Jim Karnopp of Cafe Luwak…

    Have you ever considered adding a deli service to your business? A variety of meats/cheese would supplement what’s available in Depot Town via the farm market and co-op and would be one less thing I’d have to leave town to get.

  26. mark
    Posted July 24, 2006 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    That’s actually a damn good idea, Ol’ E.

  27. mark
    Posted July 24, 2006 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    And, in case anyone else out there is interested, it’s the “number fifteen” at Jimmy John’s that has the bologna, latex, semen and maggots. I believe it’s served on a toasted roll.

  28. mark
    Posted July 24, 2006 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    OK, Lisa… let’s talk.

    Maybe we can get something ready for September, once the students are back.

  29. Anonymous
    Posted July 24, 2006 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    I hadn’t thought of selling our deli meats directly before. I think I have only had one person ask about it in the year and a half that I have been here. The problem I would run into currently is the amount of refrigeration I have. I barely have enough room in my walkin to store the meats for the business we are doing now. I have just struck a deal for a new walkin freezer and some other equipment, so that should help with my storage problems. Maybe sometime next month after I get everything installed I could start roasting extra meat and trying to sell it seperately.

  30. egpenet
    Posted July 24, 2006 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    I keep mentioning that rather than trying to guess what would sell, let’s do a quick survey to find out what people really want.

  31. Lisa
    Posted July 25, 2006 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Oooh oooh, I could help with that. I spent many years (and still spend my non-Think Local First time) doing customer/employee satisfaction research as well as evaluation. While I’m not as enthusiastic about parts of it as I used to be, I do think a well-designed simple customer satisfaction survey & needs assessment can be very useful to many businesses.

  32. muppster
    Posted August 1, 2006 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    jim i’d love to hook you up with local sustainable meat producers– that would be a big draw for me (mostly veggie, but eats and buys meat if it’s sustainable/local)… i’m all for it!

  33. mark
    Posted August 1, 2006 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    OK, now that things have settled down a bit, what if we start planning a brainstorming session in Spetember on how to better support, promote, and attract locally owned businesses here in Ypsi? Anyone interested in joining the planning committee?

  34. muppster
    Posted August 1, 2006 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    well, of course, i’m in, mark. my slogan continues to be “let’s take ypsi community-redevelopment by the horns.” i know, not so catchy or smooth, but it’s how i feel… downtown farmer’s market, mayoral debate, indie art stuff, and all the rest!

  35. murph
    Posted August 1, 2006 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    I’m in, obviously.

    And, muppster – gosh, I thought I was the first! I was, until recently, a vegetarian with a weakness for fish-n-chips, but have decided to eat meat if I know and approve of where/how it was raised.

    (This was motivated by my parents’ purchase of a lamb from my godmother / childhood neighbor as a housewarming present. Damn them. They knew I have an exploitable weakness for lamb, and that all my arguments against factory farming and the anonymous immorality of meat would wither when presented with an animal from the family farmed herd that I have been monitoring for decades from our front porch.)

    ((And, did I mention? Mmmmm, lamb….))

  36. mark
    Posted August 2, 2006 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    Cool. Let’s get a meeting (over beer perhaps) scheduled later this month with Lisa and a few local business owners… Send me an email if you have business owners to suggest… I don’t think we probalby want more than a dozen in our first brainstorming session, but eventually we could have an open meeting somewhere and invite everyone with an interest… Off the top of my head, I’d say Linda French, the Greff’s, James from VG, the folks from ACE, Peter from Bombadill’s, Jennifer from Henrietta Fahrenheit, and Jim from Luwak. There may be others, but they’re the first to come to mind when I think of people who have expressed an interest in the past.

  37. mark
    Posted August 2, 2006 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    And I’ll be the first to admit that I may have been a bit too aggressive in my initial condemnation of chains. I just wanted the subject talked about. I don’t plan to be closed-minded about it thought (lest anyone be afraid that might try to hijack this group with an agenda of my own).

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