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Shop Locally: A Call To Action!

The closing of Wine Styles Cascade is leading this southwest Atlanta community leader to write a "a call to action" and four tips for saving our businesses.

It looks like 1998 has made a comeback in South Fulton. What is so unique about 1998 and South Fulton? 

If you recall, we lost several major businesses in our community. 

Macy’s pulled out of Shannon Mall. Service Merchandise and Target closed along Old National Highway. 

Unfortunately, we never obtained replacements for these businesses. Both the Target and Macy’s have remained empty since their closures. The departure of Macy’s began the path to death of Shannon Mall as other businesses followed such as JCPenney and other major outlets. 

We have seen two malls die out in our area; Crossroads at Stewart-Lakewood and Union Station (formerly Shannon Mall). We also have seen many once vibrant shopping centers become ghost towns. 

Over this weekend, the Cascade Patch reported that WineStyles is leaving Cascade. This is the only location that was in an urban area. In fact, this is the only location that had an Atlanta address (even though it was located in unincorporated Fulton).

The Cascade Corridor has seen the closure of Quizno’s (near Fulton Industrial), Bruster’s, Up The Creek Seafood Restaurant, Wing Stop, Foot Locker, Footworks, Gorin’s, Imprimis Beauty Salon, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Johnny’s Pizza and more. Keep in mind, the corridor is only but so big. 

Regardless of how you feel about these businesses, we have lost jobs, services and most importantly, tax revenue that is paid into the South Fulton Special Services District (the fund that pays for city services in unincorporated Fulton). 

For those of us who are natives to the Cascade Corridor, we remember when there was nothing on strip but two, maybe three gas stations, woods, a haunted house and nothing else. Research Atlanta Center Drive was not even on the map yet.  Local family dining was either at Greenbriar (only so many times one can eat Piccadilly) or on Fulton Industrial (Sizzler, Shoney’s).  Other than that, we had to take our cars and commute for services and quality. 

In 2003, Camp Creek Marketplace provided more dining, shopping and medical options for our community. The center has since expanded and we will be seeing entertainment complexes along the parkway in the near future in both the city limit of East Point and unincorporated Fulton. 

Greenbriar Mall, a staple of our community since 1965 has seen its fair share of businesses come and go.  Most recently, we lost two movie theatres, Magic Johnson Theatres in 2009 and its short lived replacement Revolution Cinemas. 

To stop this business erosion, we need to start shopping locally. For years, we complained and yearned about not having establishments in our area. While there are still several areas of unmet demand, we must continue to demonstrate that we are a viable community that is ready to do business.  We have to stop thinking its better or best on the other side of town.

The Old National Alliance holds businesses along Old National accountable and responsible for their actions. If we see something that is substandard, then we must speak up.  Contact the manager and if no response or action is taken, then contact the corporate headquarters. 

Secondly, criminal behavior cannot be justified, excused or tolerated.  All too often, businesses in our community are subject to theft, burglary and vandalism. Our police department must ensure that the business corridor is receiving adequate patrol coverage so calls are responded to in a timely manner.

However, Fulton County Police cannot place an office in every community they serve.  Neither can the Atlanta Police Department. We all must do a better job of keeping an eye out for suspicious activity and as the public service announcement says, “if you see something, say something.” 

Thirdly, our businesses must do a better job of networking and partnering with one another.  All too often as entrepreneurs and business owners, we tend to forget our neighbors next door or down the street when we are doing business to business transactions.  Why have two similar special events in one area?  Reach out to collaborate and consolidate.  Businesses must be referrals for one another and get past this competing attitude.  Why does everyone feel the need to offer a trivia or karaoke night?  Be innovative, different and creative.  Our business groups such as the Cascade Business and Merchants Association, the South Fulton Chamber of Commerce and others must provide opportunities for the businesses to meet one another and to meet the consumers.  As an entrepreneur in South Fulton, I see first-hand the limited options for business networking.  I have ran into countless other entrepreneurs and business owners in neighboring counties networking and pushing their businesses. 

 Fourth, our governments cannot be anti-business.  We all know that the ‘Cascade Overlay’ is king when it comes to the corridor but is it sustainable?  Telling a business, it cannot engage in various activities to market and promote their business, adding to the cost of doing business because of required fixtures and structures simply pushes many out of a potential market.  There is a business on Fulton Industrial who told me they have several banners they would love to display but the county charges them per week.  This is not a major chain or corporation but a small business.  Simply being on a high traffic road or located within a “popular right now” community does not keep the doors open.  Governments must do more for small businesses and entrepreneurs as it us who will be the ones to take the chance of going into an area labeled undesirable by the large companies.  It is us who will take an office within an antiquated office park to get ourselves started.  Everyone rolls out the red carpet for large corporation but who rolls out the red carpet for entrepreneurs?

 In addition, the same can be said for our neighborhood groups and community associations.  When was the last time a business had the chance to present themselves to your group?  Have you reached out to local businesses about holding your meetings in their establishment?  Many of these businesses would love to provide both monetary and in-kind sponsorship to your causes but we tend to skip over them.  Many of these groups treat business owners and entrepreneurs like political candidates—you are welcome but sit down and shut up.  Nobody is saying turn your meetings into infomercials and place necessary agenda items on the back burner.  What we are saying is these businesses in your community are contributing to your quality of life that you enjoy? 

This is a call to action. If you like having businesses in your neighborhood, you have to support them. Get to know the staff, management and owners.  Develop a relationship with them. Talk them up to your colleagues, family and friends.  Before you venture out across town, ask yourself is there any place local where I can do this. Business owners and entrepreneurs, you must do more to get your name out there.  Handing out business cards and flyers on the sidewalk in front of your business is not enough.  You are part of the community too and you have to get in the midst of it.  Get involved, be seen and be out. 

We have plenty of corridors for you to chose from: Old National Highway, Greenbriar Mall, West End, Cascade Corridor, Fulton Industrial Blvd, Camp Creek Parkway, South Fulton Parkway, Roosevelt Highway, Metropolitan Parkway, Campbellton Road, Sandtown, Ben Hill, Oakland City and the downtowns of College Park, East Point and Hapeville.

Save a business, strength your community, shop local!

Dominique Huff is the CEO/Founder of the Tenth Amendment Media Group.  TAMG specializes in sharing community stories through broadcasting, publishing and hospitality. Visit them online at www.tenthamendmentmedia.com

 

Ryan December 21, 2011 at 09:08 PM
I agree with every word in this article. I am bringing the internet coupon sales to the small entrpreneurs in southwest atlanta that cant afford the requirements of bigger sites. Www.donedealatl.com will launch in early January
M Jackson December 21, 2011 at 10:35 PM
People have bad experiences with service and products everywhere. It doesn't stop us from going back there though. When we have problems with "our people" I think we take it personally. It's almost similar to our anger that President Obama has not done more for us. In both cases most people don't realize all thast HAS been done for us.
Dominique Huff December 21, 2011 at 10:49 PM
I'm glad to see that we are having this conversation about our business community. As an entrepreneur, I know the importance of customer service. Sometimes, our own people tend to expect us to go more out of our way because we share skin color. I always encourage business owners to get involved with the community and participate in the decision making process. The residents do a great job of this but we can improve in business side. I challenge all of you to try out our independent eateries in the new year. Just because it doesn't have a name you recognize, you will enjoy the food. Drive around your community and explore what we have. You'll be amazed at what's here that is hidden or we tend to overlook it.
Dominique Huff December 21, 2011 at 10:50 PM
Thanks everyone for the great feedback to this piece.
patricia December 22, 2011 at 03:01 AM
Input from the community might be helpful, if owners were interested. For example, a businessman's lunch from Landon's; say $6.99 would instigate more business that the $5.00 I spend at Stabucks to meet & chat with friends, but nobody asks me. Instead the companies just do their own thing, their own way, not chatting with the locals about how to make things work together...and boom - there she goes. High priced, we can get anywhere. Trendy blows over shortly. Mulans is now the only place open EVERYDAY with consistent service. I say let Landons compete and stay competitive.
Delden Fane December 22, 2011 at 01:17 PM
Great ideas! However, our local businesses must join the digital age! No one is going to drive around to find retail stores or restaurants. Many modern establishments offer deals via the internet or text messages to the preferred customers. It's too costly to print out flyers and handout in parking lots or post signs on the side of the road. When I visit any local establishment I'm never asked for my email address or any form of contact information. Its as though they have a monopoly on business in the community. Many don't have a website or use them effectively to attract more business. These are modern times with modern challenges and our local businesses must meet them with modern solutions.
Delden Fane December 22, 2011 at 08:26 PM
Free consulting tip to community business owners. In 2012 seek to incorporate two or more college interns into your business operation to keep you more connected with the digital age. Graduate or even undergraduate students will be able to study community market trends and broaden your customer base via social media and email blasts! Good luck in 2012!
Harold Michael Harvey December 22, 2011 at 08:34 PM
Delden Fane, great suggestion. Thanks for the advice.
Janita Poe December 22, 2011 at 08:54 PM
Great, great comments, everyone. I believe we will figure out a way to keep businesses thriving in Cascade!
Harold Michael Harvey December 23, 2011 at 06:54 AM
Janita, thanks to you and The Patch for getting this most important discussion started. If there ever was a reason for having a Cascade Patch; then addresses issues like this one is it.
Janita Poe December 23, 2011 at 09:57 AM
Thanks, Harold! And thank you for being a wonderful "Cascade Patcher!" Happy Holidays!
Jennifer Freeman December 23, 2011 at 02:51 PM
REPOSTED MY RESPONSE - Sent from iPhone and had too many errors. Please READ!!! Dominique, I liked the article and support businesses in our community. However I am an entrepreneur, community leader and creative artist and know that we must not forget to hold business owners in our community accountable. I am getting sick and tired of hearing conversations about supporting black businesses and we are expected to put up with mediocre customer service, unprofessionalism, no respect for employees and inappropriate interactions with customers-employees in the workplace. What needs to happen is a "Call For SW Atlanta Business Owners To Just Do The Right Thing". Maybe after that more businesses will stay open in "Our Hood". In January, I am starting my own call to action. It's called "SW boycott". Don't get me wrong. I partner with businesses in SW Atlanta in the areas of public education, political affairs, economic development, faith-base initiatives and community engagement programs and events on a weekly basis. We have to have two-way conversations about the value customers and community bring to businesses and that owners MUST treat us with respect and appreciate our business and understand that we have the power to shut their businesses down. We can no longer continue supporting businesses that don't appreciate or value us nor our power. The problem is we don't use it.
Harold Michael Harvey December 23, 2011 at 03:20 PM
The problem is we as a community don't withhold our business from any other businesses that give us poor service. The fact of the matter we came to this discussion because of the closing of Wine Styles. I dare say none of the negative stereotypes mentioned by some in reply to Dominique Huff's piece remotely applies to Wine Styles; yet in a few days they will close their doors. Ms. Poe's questions still bristles throughout this discussion: "Why?"
Alton Drew December 23, 2011 at 05:29 PM
Thanks for this insightful article. There are a wealth of businesses in southwest Atlanta that I'm looking forward to exploring ...
Jennifer Freeman December 23, 2011 at 05:43 PM
I know why Winestyles closed but I am not liberty to say right now but trust me I will. All I can say at this moment is things are not always what they appear. It's unfortunate that this commentary came up because Winestyles is closing, but I believe that's because they have been given alot of coverage via CascadePatch. I'm not saying I disagree with that, but when business owners start saying come support another business while the one is shutting down without giving a thorough explaination one tends to wonder and dialogue begins. Bottomline: the Cascade Corridor needs more options; more up scale after hours lounges, wine bars and real live entertainmnet; not karoake bars, where customers and employees are treated with dignity and respect. This time last year, some friends and I experienced some very bad bad service at an African-American owned establishment downtown right down from the MLK Center; I'm not mentioning any names but Im just sayin... At any rate, we vowed never to go back and started a Social Media campaign to let everybody in our network know. To this day, that business struggles to keep it's door open. That was only a few people. Just imagine if it were more.    
Harold Michael Harvey December 23, 2011 at 05:46 PM
How many European American businesses have been targeted with this same drive them out of business energy because I had a bad experience there .
Jennifer Freeman December 23, 2011 at 09:03 PM
I don't know how many?
Meika Louis-Pierre December 24, 2011 at 01:00 AM
Hello All! My name is Meika and I am an entrepreneur and resident of SW Atlanta. I think this dialogue is fantastic! It is a wonderful opportunity for business owners to really understand what our community wants. Perhaps a regular forum on Cascade Patch would be a wonderful way to continue this discuss so that we can serve our community better. Delden, you make a wonderful point! Fit Neighborhood is super excited to release our new website and online marketing initiatives in mid-January. If you are happy with our service, unhappy with our service or would like to try us out free of charge, we welcome anyone to email us at WeCare@FitNeighborhood.com !
Dominique Huff December 24, 2011 at 03:22 AM
Hey Jennifer, you made some valid points. I would like to talk with you further as I want to follow up this conversation with some action. I left you a voicemail, lets meet and chat soon.
Dominique Huff December 24, 2011 at 03:27 AM
I really get tired of our restaurants trying to turn themselves into bootleg version of night clubs as well. Some of us simply want to eat, enjoy ourselves without having to pay a cover charge or dress up like we are going to the PROM or Fox Theatre. I also would like to see more half priced appetizer Happy Hours. I shouldn't have to go to Douglasville (O'Charley's) or Downtown Atlanta (McCormick's) to do this. I also would like to see something on the scale of Workout Anytime in our areas as well. Some of us work in odd hours and are unable to get a workout in during times when the recreation centers or LAFitness is open. Customer service consulting and staff development is something that many businesses and it will support them to further.
Dominique Huff December 24, 2011 at 03:29 AM
Another issue that many have abandoned or neglected websites. Your website makes your business 24/7 so allowing people to e-mail you and contact you online is a great way to catch people who are web-surfing and stumble across your business. You'll be amazed at how many people don't check e-mails or sparsely check e-mails in the digital age. I check e-mail all day, every day.
Dominique Huff December 24, 2011 at 03:31 AM
Hey Ryan, I have a similar project but it will be printed. Are you interested in partnering and collaborating?
Dominique Huff December 24, 2011 at 03:32 AM
I will definitely be in touch with you. I always wanted to learn more about your business and projects.
Delden Fane December 24, 2011 at 01:09 PM
No problem, anytime! Feel free to visit us at wwww.BreadLineConsulting.com. Happy Holidays!
Delden Fane December 24, 2011 at 01:37 PM
Thank you! I agree this type of dialog needs to continue. Perhaps the Cascade Patch or someone else can create a central blog for SW community matters. Better yet, creating a blog would be a great project for young adults to get involved and help improve our community! This way, the dialog is extended beyond this article into a central source on the internet.
Harold Michael Harvey December 24, 2011 at 01:51 PM
Together we can improve the quality of life in Cascade Heights.
Delden Fane December 24, 2011 at 06:01 PM
I agree! Where are the happy hours or discounts during the week. When business is slow during the weekdays its better to give discounts than to have no business! I just don't understand it. Is it just too time consuming to market lower prices. Like sell gift cards for $25 with a value of $40 or more and only it to be used Monday through Thursday! Be creative and get to know your customers (ie. email, cell phone number for texting blast communications).
Glen McDaniel December 24, 2011 at 07:13 PM
I am enjoying this discussion a lot. Not supporting "our own" has some historical and psychological roots that I will not go into here. On the other hand "our own" sometimes think they earn our business simply by existing and feel no need to operate like other businesses-adopting sound planning, use of social media, good customer service, discounts, showing appreciation for patronage. It becomes a circular argument. Which came first: the non-support or the sub-par service? I work all over the city and so I often have a quick lunch at Chick Fil A most days. It is sad to say I receive the worst service at our very own Greenbriar location. I wait, hoping they get my order right, they dont make eye contact and mumble when I ask a question. Why is that? The crew at Cumberland/Vinings knows me by name ("The southwest salad? Will you be dining in Mr McDaniel? We'll bring it to your table.") The one on Mount Zion remembers I like spicy dressing.The Dallas Highway store is the same. And they always respond to my "Thank you" with "my pleasure" as they make eye contact. Why is that? This is not some 4 star restaurant. I dont pay any more at these branches than I do at Greenbriar Mall. So why is that? That is something "our" businesses have to admit and correct in order to eb successful.
Janita Poe December 24, 2011 at 08:46 PM
As I said earlier, I do support black-owned businesses but not nearly enough. I have had some bad experiences with service, pricing and supply but that is no excuse not to support the good businesses out there. Many of you who are on FB saw my post yesterday about my Xmas giftcard purchases at Landon's and Opare Integrated Health Services. I agree with Glen that our behavior has a lot to do with our mindset as descendants of slaves. We really have to reprogram ourselves when it comes to economics and business. (e.g. Perfect Example: The recent rush to buy the new Air Jordans.... consumers, consumers, consumers... never the strategic entrepreneurs....). Happy Holidays everyone and Merry Christmas to those who celebrate Christmas!!!
Michael Davis December 27, 2011 at 01:58 PM
There are several components to the discussion threads. First, the issue of customer service is a leadership issue with store management and ownership. Second, the trust factor to buy from a local business comes largely from word of mouth from a trusted source where as the marketing provides awareness. Third, the fuel for the engine of small business is lending for both cash flow and capital investment which is still difficult. Fourth, consumer spending fuels the economy is down especially for non essentials. Fifth, the rise of Internet shopping at below brick and mortar store price points has eroded some of the local consumer spend that could potentially go to small, local businesses.

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