Reading the April 29 editorial page prompted me to ponder the parallels of our plight as a small business with the Conte School project debate.
Various letters touted investing in our city, preserving the past and an historic building with its cherished memories. Dr. Mary Grant stated that "In recent years, we have seen dramatic evidence of the ways historic buildings can enjoy new leases on life, and enliven our community in the process ... "
It was with just this sentiment in mind that we purchased the time-worn West End Market in 2006. The economy was percolating and financing was available for upgrading this old commercial gem into a new home for our business, brewhaha! café, cuisine, espresso. Well, wouldn't it be just like a recession to come along and spoil our fun!
The past seven years have been financially challenging; the recession does not really appear to have ended. Not only have we managed to stave off foreclosure, but we have repaired, upgraded and renovated the West End Market to readiness for relocation of brewhaha! One year ago, we applied to our bank for a line of credit to finance our moving to this new, larger location. We have yet to receive an answer. The planning board, the zoning board and the building inspector have approved our relocation. Why not the bank?
President Obama stated in his State of the Union address that if banks weren't lending money, then they were holding back the economy, or words of substance. As a small business and employer of a staff of eight, we have been slapped hard by the fiscal fiasco. Our market has been diluted by cheaper chain and convenience offerings and folks just don't have spare cash as they might have had in the former economy.
Back in 1989, we purchased and restored the Miss Adams Diner. When it came time to improve and expand, the cute little bank ads appealing to small business wouldn't come through for us. In 2000, the idea for brewhaha! was luckily bankrolled. Now with our fourth bank in 14 years, after piquing their interests, I'm wondering if they'll stick with us in principal.
I'm happy with the outcome of the Conte School referendum. Despite the narrow margin, I feel that it would have been asinine to reject three quarters of the funding for this project.
At the recent opening of the Walmart Supercenter, Mayor Alcombright said, "Without investment, communities do not grow."
For 25 years, we have invested in Northern Berkshire County.