The owner of Anderson Street Soap Company wrote a letter to the editor that was published today that hits home in some areas. Get yourself a copy of the paper and read it. Below is a response I sent.
I do agree with much of what you wrote in today's letter to the editor. I agree with trying to help support local businesses in so much as that they offer what I desire to purchase. I don't shop at the antique shops, since I am not looking for what they offer. I do visit local restaurants, the jewelry shop, the thrift store, and others that have what I need.
Unfortunately, in the case of The Royal Tea Room, she was not open on the occasions when we attempted to go there for dinner and the one time she was open when we stopped by, she really didn't have anything we were interested in at the time. I hate tea, by the way, so I don't typically go to a tea room. A coffee shop, on the other hand, now is something I would frequent if one was in town. When looking for a cappuccino and a sweet to share with the wife, the tea room did not have either. Not even a coffee with real creamer. That is just my personal experience. When we returned to try dinner one day, the hours were changed and the tea room was closed.
I don't cry over businesses going out of business if they can not compete. That is just a common marketplace occurrence. I patronize businesses that have what I want to purchase and at prices I am willing to pay. I don't patronize one gas station in town because they don't offer the convenience of location, of using a brand of gasoline that allows me to use my branded credit card should I choose to do so, and others do. That is no slight on that station, and I don't feel bad about not giving them my business. I don't go to the IGA any more for personal reasons, and Joe Moore is missing thousands of dollars of my business. I don't feel bad about going to Food Lion or Wal-Mart instead. He has made some business decisions with which I disagree and therefore don't give him my business. That is a part of the free market economy and has nothing to do with "being my brother's keeper".
I believe that you were dead on target concerning the security guard at The Waffle House and have written about it on troylaplante.com. The local police were way out of bounds in charging that woman with a crime. I even posted the text of the ordinance (which is publicly available on the town's web site). The ordinance does not even address her situation in a criminal or prohibitive manner. What that security guard did was specifically PROTECTED under that ordinance, yet some zealot decided to cite her anyway. That is sad.
I can see the town cutting business owners some slack on utility bills. Fortunately, the town did vote in the past council meetings to out the utility deposit to help businesses. The amount charged for utilities still seems high to me, and I have no problem giving new businesses a break. That is just plain good business, from a perspective that they are a customer of the town.
I can't see the town subsidizing rent, though. Private owners of property have the right to rent out their properties or sell them at fair market prices. Unfortunately, those prices have been a bit high here in town. We are still talking about Selma, not Raleigh. I looked at property and rental prices within the past year and was a bit disappointed in the high amount being demanded. That is just plain a market problem that needs to be rectified. I don't necessarily believe it to be a town government problem. I certainly don't want my tax dollars going towards subsidizing rent, regardless of the beneficiary.
You were right on about Railroad Days, as well. I have said the same thing for over a decade. It is no different than with the Ham and Yam festival in Smithfield. One year, when I was working at WBZB, the only things railroad related was the model train display, the spike driving contest, and the fact that we played a few Boxcar Willie songs on the radio. The same year at the Ham and Yam festival, the only thing remotely related to sweet potatoes or pigs were the hams and the cans of yams we gave away to listeners as we broadcasted live.
Selma has allowed gangs and thugs to thrive for years, as evidenced by the crowd at Railroad Days, as you noted in your letter. The police would serve the public better by dealing with them instead of with security guards doing their job.
Anyway, David, I don't have to agree with you on everything to still love and respect you, which I do. We do agree on a lot of things, and I probably need to expend more effort on keeping in fellowship with you. Come to think of it, your shop does have something we need, so I do believe we need to make a trip soon to resupply.