Well, here we go with my first attempt at dabbling my toes in the wading pool of Susan Marshall’s six regular readers, all the while hoping there are no piranha lurking below the surface. I’m fond of my toes.
Peabody city hall was no place to be Monday for thin-skinned Dollar General execs. Of course, none were present as members of the public let loose with a litany of doom and gloom over the prospects of the giant retailer coming to town at a planning and zoning committee meeting.
Curiously, the man who everyone said has the most to lose, Mike Crow, who along with wife, Jadina, is the new owner of Peabody Market, was the most refreshing and upbeat of the bunch.
To be sure, it’s clear he’s not happy about the possibility of having to compete head-to-head against a cut-rate national retailer; who would be?
But if those who were disparaging Dollar General hoped to receive a whimpering “woe is me” affirmation from Crow, they were sorely disappointed.
Matter-of-fact in acknowledging the challenge, Mike Crow came across as a man ready to go into battle. In the few minutes he spoke, his determination to succeed and the business savvy he displayed made me a believer. Whatever the odds, with what I heard it would be awfully hard for me to bet against him.
This newcomer’s passion for Peabody is palpable and infectious. The possibilities he sees for business and community growth and personal fulfillment are here and nowhere else. The Crows are in this for the long haul, unless something insurmountable happens.
They may need all of that drive and passion, because there’s a question looming that has to be answered: What role should government play in determining who can do business in Peabody?
By annexing the land where a Dollar General would be, city leaders put themselves on the hot seat, and judging from Monday’s meeting, they’d be wise to invest in asbestos undies.
If you’re looking for my personal opinion about Dollar General and Peabody, you can stop looking. Having had about 90 minutes of immersion in the issue, I can offer observations and ask questions. If you want opinions on this one, you know where to find them, starting with Susan’s six regular readers.
Planning and zoning appeared to be the place for foes to start a counteroffensive. If the property isn’t rezoned for business, no Dollar General. Simple as that.
But planning and zoning wasn’t set up to be the Peabody economic management council. Its job is to recommend to city council whether a proposed land use is appropriate for a given location. Simple as that.
The planning and zoning group has only the power to recommend. It’s the city council that decides.
Is it up to the city council to offer protection against what some vigorously claim is a soulless carnivore that could gobble up hometown good neighbor Peabody Market? Should it be?
The answers in Hillsboro when Wal-Mart wanted to buy property there for a market were no and no. Wal-Mart’s gone, Dale’s Supermarket continues to thrive, and Heartland Foods closed.
Peabody isn’t Hillsboro, that’s for darned sure. It’s up to Peabody to set its own course. What will it be? Right now, that’s anybody’s guess.
However, this newspaper has long been a champion of shopping at home to support local retailers, and that’s still the case.
Right now, that means shopping for groceries at Peabody Market. I recall how nervous folks were at the possibility it might close. Well, it did not, and the Crows have made improvements. Overall prices are lower and shoppers have additional choices. They’ve freshened up the store’s appearance, and have big plans for the future if they can make a good go of it.
Shopping at home doesn’t mean sacrificing price, choice, quality, and customer service expectations. Good businesses expect to have to earn your loyalty. If they don’t, they know you’ll shop with those who do. That’s something the Crows appear to understand.
A day could be coming when Peabody Market isn’t the only choice in town for much of what it sells. If there’s competition, then you’ll get to vote with your dollars. Your choices, your loyalties, will determine if there’s a winner, a loser, or peaceful co-existence. That’s the way free enterprise works: Consumers make choices, businesses thrive or die. It’s that simple.
Meanwhile, I now find myself reluctant to pull my feet out of the wading pool. I’m fond of my toes. Are both “piggies that went to market” still there? I guess time and Susan’s six regular readers will tell.
— david colburn