Reading the Feb. 4, 2010, Metro Pulse cover story ["Downtown's Next Big Something" by Frank Carlson], I became weary. My main concern is that corporate business growth will be favored over local business. When I read that the grocery store being considered (at least by some) is Whole Foods, my stomach twisted. Traveling around the U.S. for about three years, I was saddened by the fact that mid-sized towns all over the country look strikingly similar; their landscapes/urban areas are all dominated by the same 20 corporate chains.
When I came back to Knoxville, it gave me heart to see the marked difference in our downtown—a refreshing lack of corporate stores (like Whole Foods and Borders) and restaurants (like Chili's and Applebee's), and instead an encouraging amount of unique local retail (like Earth to Old City and Yee Haw Industries) and restaurants (like Cafe 4 and Tomato Head). Please, for the love of Knoxville, can we not get a Whole Foods downtown like every other generic city in the United States? Instead let's support a local grocery store (a satellite of Three Rivers Natural Foods Co-op, perhaps?) and other local business, which can sometimes be slower going in the beginning but will be more enriching and community-building in the long run. That's the kind of growth that will enhance our town and make it unique.
As this country grows more and more homogeneously corporate, Knoxville can set an example by proving that local business will stick around when the corporations are crumbling. I hope that there are many in the CBID who will second my emotion.