Jumping through hoops
By: Kevin Aldwaik 11/01/2011
I recently wrote to our Councilmember Barb Johnson because I am very disheartened with the lack of support and disregard for my business, the Webber Camden Market, on 44th and James in the Webber-Camden neighborhood. I have been informed by customers and neighbors that when they contact her office and other city officials they feel they are being brushed off and not taken seriously. As citizens we are aware of the importance of small businesses and local job creation in these tough economic times. Johnson’s lack of support for my small local business and the City’s lack of support for something that will make the neighborhood a better place shows that neither she nor the city support a successful and viable North Minneapolis neighborhood.
I have been trying to operate a small local grocery store in a neighborhood which wishes to buy milk, bread and other necessities without having to bus or drive (a financial burden) to a large grocery chain miles away when they only need a few items. I began this mission almost four years ago and have run into road block after road block for something that should not be this hard, especially considering the City of Minneapolis Zoning Department approved the site for a convenient store. I have spent nearly $500,000 and four years of my life jumping thru hoops trying to make this a successful venture for myself and the neighborhood.
I ran a successful business in the Lind-Bohanon Community for five years prior to purchasing my current location. I have always maintained a positive relationship with the communities in which I work and am very strict on the behavior and activities that surround my business. I do not allow questionable, disrespectful or suspicious behavior in my business or my neighbors’. I personally sweep the sidewalks surrounding my store multiple times a day. I gave ice to the football team when their ice machine broke during one of the hottest days of practice because I care about them and the neighborhood. Rather than helping the people in her own ward Johnson is hindering them with her lack of support. Neighborhood residents want this store to carry groceries and tobacco. Why are Johnson and other city officials holding us back from being successful?
I have personally contacted Johnson’s office numerous times in the past two months with issues regarding my business and the problems I am having with city licensing. I have had the same experience as my neighbors—disregard and indifference. I would like to know what she is going to do to help me and the people she represents to get the grocery store we all want in the Webber-Camden neighborhood.
Camden Market owner, Webber-Camden