Dictionary.com defines it as one of the four basic taste sensations. It is not sour, not sweet and not salty. It is a harsh, disagreeably acrid taste like that of aspirin or wormwood. I’ve never tasted wormword. Today I’m using the word after receiving news that is hard to bear, grievous, distressful; a bitter sorrow.
This little urban market is my lunchtime getaway, a favorite stop for a Royal coffee in the morning, a Saturday destination where I grab sandwiches on our way to baseball. It is part of the non-profit, Community Food Connections and features many locally produced items from meat to soap. It has nearly 10,000 “likes” on facebook. The next closest market down Roosevelt street has 105. And this was downtown’s first local food grocery store – not counting those that may have closed down years and years ago. It’s located adjacent to our farmer’s market and was a strong attempt to establish a permanent public market in the heart of the city.
Behind the helm, the servant leader, Cindy Gentry worked relentlessly. She is an amazing woman who has contributed so much to our community, helped scores of people get access to good food and I proudly call her friend. This morning in my melancholy, I read through all of the comments on Yelp. For the most part, they boasted of this tiny jewel. Laughably someone said it didn’t have as much selection as Whole Foods. Someone else complained about the prices. They definitely are not cheap but I believe this is an example of how cheap may cost us a fortune.
I feel remarkably guilty. There was more that I could’ve done to help them, more dollars I could’ve spent and more business knowledge I could’ve imparted. Did I spread the word about them to as many people as I should’ve? Did I work to get them listed as the preferred caterers at venues that I do business with? Is there a way to rally an entrepreneur who might be able to thrive in this excellent location?
Much remains to be seen. But for today, I’m putting on my glasses and looking around at the other local businesses that are so dependent on my support. I encourage you to do the same. Pass up the big box and the chain for that locally owned and operated business that is plowing money back into your community. That business is contributing not just tax dollars but also contributing to place-making and quality of life and giving your community it’s culture.
Yes, I have a disagreeable taste in my mouth but I choose use it to see where else my community needs me. Where does yours need you?