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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Supporting Neighborhoods Through Small Business

Neighborhood nuggets sometimes become uncovered when you take the time to explore your neighborhood. As an avid biker who pedals my way to coffee shops, grocery store, and completing general errands I often find myself surprised by the hidden gems in the nooks and crannies of my neighborhood.

The perspective from a bike is very different from the vantage point of a car. You can see so many more things and take your time on small things.

I found a small fruit market that matched the price of one of my favorite stores I typically have to drive to after work. No driving, no out of the way effort, or wasted time. It was right there under my nose!

The store is owned by an ethnic immigrant family in a hidden location someone would not suspect to find a niche outlet. A small sign on the main street and a small parking lot behind the building. You would hardly know its there unless you were introduced to it or happened to look in that direction.

Such hidden nuggets are what makes a neighborhood stronger. People who can buy their basic items within a mile or so of their house might soon become familiar with other people if they frequent these businesses on a regular basis.

The advent of the car and supermarket destroyed local stores and business. However, the strongest and most sustainable neighborhoods have the right kind of small businesses dotting their landscape. They are eclectic with small town charm.

Coffee shops, clothing, grocery, cafes, bars, mechanic, movies, and recreational business attract locals and create a sense of community by the people who go there regularly. No need to drive when you can walk of bike just down the street.

Urban planning should consider the aesthetic and strategically placed small business to support neighborhoods, improve housing values, create a sense of community, and reduce crime. That means helping a neighborhood to form a sense of identity by creating social landmarks.

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