NO!!! It’s NOT any better. For those that don’t recognize this store by the picture, the Blue Wheeler is located at the intersection of Marshall and N 32nd Streets.
Any better than what?
Has there been a recent change? Blue Wheeler seems like it’s same as it has ever been, at least since the last couple of years.
The owners are always very nice to me and I am glad to have a store of convenience within walking distance ever since the old Chimbarazo Market closed (now the absolutely useless “Church Hill Market”).
However, there are a quite a few loiterers around the Blue Wheeler that give me the creeps. But if this corner store closes, then the next closest walkable store from my house will be the Clay Street Market behind Chimborazo Elementary. And that is a SCARY area.
This “convenience” store sells mostly single-serve alcoholic beverages, which are then consumed by their purchasers within a one or two block area around the store. Drive by any morning and see the gathering of loiterers hanging out at the old Chimobo School (now vacant), in the nearby alley, or just next to other people’s houses – using the bushes to hide their beverage consumption (and also to answer the call of nature at times). These loiterers are loud, profane, and scare away anyone looking for a true convenience store. It is amazing to me that the Police ignore this obvious criminal activity, despite driving by occasionally as it occurs. No, the situation at Blue Wheeler is (if anything) worse as time goes on, and the obnoxious activities around it are tolerated.
Mike – my question, too – better than what? Mr. Murden – please advise, thanks!
edg, don’t you dare start frequenting the Clay Street Market! I’ve not been in the Blue Wheeler although several people have told me the owners are nice. The reason I won’t go in Blue Wheeler is the loiterers outside, sometimes it’s a big crowd and looks sort of …. not something I want to wade through.
I did hear that a year or so ago in the summer when there were so many house break-ins, the perp’s girl friend tried to hawk stolen merchandise at Blue Wheeler and the owner reported to the police. Friend who told me that thinks that means the owners (or managers) care but I still can’t get through the loiterers.
I will the Chimborazo Market was still open. I do not ever remember loiters there.
Celeste — Are you sure that the owners want that fact publcized?
I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.
Better yet, just nuke the loiterers. The owner is nice after all, so why punish him/her?
I think many of the “loiterers” are residents of the home across the street.
No, the loiterers don’t live in the area. (The retirement home, if that is what you refer to, is now closed and vacant). They only come in to drink, swear, hang-out, and then they leave.
The ownerâ€™s of the Blue Wheeler are nice, but they are extremely bad neighbors. I live very close to the BW and Iâ€™ve complained often and loudly about the store (although maybe no one can hear me over the screaming and cursing coming from the drunken loiterers). The owners of the BW do not realize, or maybe donâ€™t care, that many of the people in the neighborhood wonâ€™t go in there because of the people that are loitering and drinking on the street, fighting, cursing, etc. â€“ at all hours of the day and night. Even with the BW just a few steps away, I will drive to a store 10 blocks away before I will set a foot inside of that establishment. We are frustrated and tired from being kept up at night because of the on-going noise coming from the BW. The BW owners never ask or expect their patrons to show any consideration for those of us who have homes around their business, and the atmosphere around the store devalues the neighborhood.
Nuking the BW or the loiterers from orbit is probably a little extreme, but I thank â€˜cgoblenâ€™ and ‘cagitate’ for the creative suggestions. What are the geese up to these days? Maybe someone could get them out to N 32nd and Marshall on foot patrol?
Seriously, neighbors, if you see the drinking, etc. around the BW or out on the streets, please call the police. They are well aware of the problems around the BW, but they need to be motivated by public participation. I don’t think anyone wants to shut down the BW, we just want them to be good, considerate neighbors.
What time does the BW close? I did not know they were open late at night.
At any rate, calling the police is a great idea. If we call, believe me, the problem will get noticed.
Oh, edg, I wish it were so. I’ve called and called and called. They come out … some times. Some times they don’t. They come “if and when” they have an officer available. Now, if it’s a fight, I call 911. We need more people to notice the unacceptable behaviors.
Anyway, BW hours of operation are 8 a.m. until midnight. But there’s always people hanging out before 8 waiting for them to open and then there are street stragglers for a while after they close at midnight.
I live only a block away. I will be vigilant and call if I see trouble.
Archie – what fact? The one about hawking stolen merchandise being a no-no for them? I would think they’d like it but who knows, maybe I missed something there. Explain, please, why you asked? Did I post something perhaps I shouldn’t have? Thanks.
edg – if you meant the assisted living place at 32nd and Clay, which IS inhabited, instead of the retirement thing down on Marshall, then yes, some of the residents of the assisted living place DO frequent the BW. However, they are not the same as the loiterers, (Kat might correct me there but I think I’m right).
Kat, I understand completely about the ‘when and if they have an officer available.’ Have you tried talking to someone at 1st Precinct? Until this thread I thought I was the only one who had a problem with the place so to date all I’ve done is ignore it. Oh, and today I called the city about the orange mesh and cones on the sidewalk out front.
I’m wondering why John Murden hasn’t responded to our question as to better now than what? (Except that he’s possibly covering the school board meeting tonight and does have a regular job in addition to doing a wonderful job with this site!)
I’m surprised that the photo doesn’t show the loiterers – except they probably didn’t want their faces showing so moved away when John took the pic.
Agree with Kat, some mornings as I pass by on the way to work, I wonder what the heck these people are so eager for – oh yea, that 8 a.m. beer is all important. Makes me want Quick Check back, while it left a lot to be desired at least it didn’t have the loitering stuff.
who let these loiterers into the neighborhood in the first place? seriously people, bunker busters. thank the bush administration for some creative thinking, not me.
Celeste — I was just wondering whether they want the perp to nkow who it was that ratted them out to the cops. It is conceivable that they might be afraid of retribution.
i say close it down and put up a coffee shop. everyone favorite thing about churchill. id be wiling to bet these loiterers were here before you were so who let you into the neighborhood.
To clarify, Celeste is correct that there are 2 types of people that are causing trouble at this intersection because of the BW.
The first group is people that come to the BW to do business (i.e. buy alcohol). They are rude, loud, and inconsiderate. Some will hang out in front of the store for a while, sometimes they get in arguments or fights on the street, but they leave after a half hour or so. There is one lady that comes to the BW almost every night between 11:30 and midnight and ties her dog to the front of the store. The dog is big and barks incessantly while she is in the store – be that 5 minutes or a half hour.
The people from the retirement home that is located in the 400 block of N 32nd do frequent the BW and can be seen waiting for it to open at 8, but they usually aren’t loud or inconsiderate.
The second problem group is what we call ‘the loiterers’. They drive to the area and are generally seen hanging out along Marshall St between N 32nd and N 33rd. You would think they would just hang out at Chimbo Park, but they stay close to the BW bc that is their source of alcohol. Chimbo Park is too far away from the BW. They are the ones that drink on the street, there may be some drug trade, they pee in our bushes, and get louder as the day goes on, etc. Most of them do not live in the area. You will see their cars parked along Marshall, when they are hanging out there. They actually bring folding lawn chairs, when the weather is good.
To answer Celeste’s question, I have worked directly with the police but to no avail. I called Sgt. Potter and Lt. Jack King of the 1st precinct on several occasions and I’ve emailed Lt. King several times, as well, about the problems at this intersection. Iâ€™ve tried calling the 1st precinct directly when there is an immediate problem, and Iâ€™ve called the Richmond Police main number and, at times, Iâ€™ve called 911. Lt. King may have responded to one of my emails, but that’s it. Now I see there are new leaders at the 1st precinct, so I donâ€™t know if thatâ€™s good or bad news. I donâ€™t know if the previous leaders were relieved of their posts due to poor performance, or if the change in leadership is just routine.
If the real troublemakers are coming from outside the neighborhood, maybe we could put some gates up around church hill to keep the undesirable non-residents out? I bet we could do a fundraiser for that, securing enough money to pay for the gates and a 24 hr security guard.
I walked to the Blue Wheeler just a few days ago in order to grab some beer for the NFL playoffs. After grabbing my beer I found myself behind a group of 3 black children ranging in ages of 8-10. They were negotiating with the Arab grocer and were trying to explain to him that they wanted to split the bill. After failed attempts to explain this to the grocer ..they become short with him. He all of a sudden looked at the oldest of the 3 and sternly yelled “A-llah!” Then he took their money and gave the change to each child accordingly. Those kids were silent. The beer was good. They restocked their import beer 2 weeks ago.
God no – not another coffee house! We need a corner store, just without the nuisance of the loiterers.
I am surprised you have had so much trouble, Kat. I live across from Chimbo Elementary and about 7 years ago we used to have drug dealers and undesirables on our corner. I always called 911 – ALWAYS – whenever I felt there was something going on. The police never ignored my calls and even thanked me for calling a few times. The response time was almost always less than two minutes.
Since then, there has not been as much trouble on my block (now – BEHIND Chimbo Elementary is another story). Maybe there were different people in charge of the precinct then?
edg – I think the problem may be that, so far as I know, all that can be reported at the BW is loiterers. They may be drunk, rowdy and a deterrent to shoppers, but I don’t think the laws regarding loitering are particularly tough, nor do the police put a particularly big priority on this problem. Whereas your drug problem house was pretty well known, plus dealers often have guns and present other issues. Just my take on it.
I’m glad Steven is happy with his imported six pack. I think part of the problem is the sale and consumption just outside the place of singles, though.
Well, if they are drinking on the sidewalk or making noise, you can call 911 as these activities are illegal.
I really don’t see it from my house, and I always use the store during the day, so I never saw the problems.
If I do drive by and anything like that is going on, I will definately call. This is our neighborhood, too. I have lived here over 15 years and do not need to tolerate such activity.
I think if they stopped selling single beers to go in little brown bags, the problem of the loiterers would go away. Nobody likes to be a snitch but if these people are creating a hostile environment…do whatcha gotta do.
I’m a fairly new resident to VA so have not brushed up on my ABC laws. But in FL, from whence I came…you need a special license to allow consumption on the grounds. Selling and serving are distinct.
If the owner of the Blue Wheeler got hit in his purse enough times, he might stop letting it happen. And you know, furthermore…I doubt he enjoys their company much more than you do.
Here you go, folks. Do you really want it to stop?
Please be patient with the police leadership at First Precinct. These are good officers and as soon as they get their feet wet, they’ll be off and running.
Make it uncomfortable for the loiters to use your block as a party sidewalk. If you see someone breaking the law, call 911. After enough drive-by’s, the problem will get better.
Katherine: Thanks for your input and the link but alcohol is not being consumed on the grounds, as far as I know. I looked at the ABC site previously and didn’t see anything that would apply to this situation. As I said before, I have no desire to shut the BW down. There may be some people in the neighborhood that do wish the BW would go away but for me, I’d just rather they be better neighbors and that they have an expectation that their customers be considerate to those of us who live near their store without me having to call the police and demand consideration. And, really – as Steven pointed out: the BW just restocked their imported beer selection. I mean, what else could any of us ask for in a neighborhood convenience store??? What kind of people need anything like a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread??
“The Loiterers” are spawn of the BW but they do their drinking on the street, not on the premises.
Elliott: I think I have shown a LOT of patience with the 1st precinct. I understand that the situation at the BW can be elusive. It comes and it goes and by the time the police arrive, some times the troublemakers are gone. However, “The Loiterers” that hang on Marshall Street do not live in Church Hill. They drive their cars into the neighborhood from some place else, spend the day sitting in front of an abandoned building and drinking on the sidewalk less than 2 blocks from a public school. It’s not like it takes any kind of effort to see them or find them. They are right there – on the street. Every day. In the exact same place. The exact same people who do not live in Church Hill but come here because we do not seem to care if a gang of drunks hangs out on our streets all day and every day. ANY police assistance, i.e. just stop and check them out, would make them want to go some place else.
Our Delegate McClellan has sponsored a bill in the General Assembly this session to allow localities to regulate the sale of single units of alcoholic beverages from their original multi-unit packaging. Her bill is HB601; we should actively support her efforts.
Click the link below and you will be able to access all of the bills sponsored by our Delegate, including HB601.
Kat, keep up the good work. I’m a block away, sounds like you are closer. I agree with everything in your post #31.
Until the owners/managers want it cleaned up, it will stay like it is, unfortunately.
911 is an EMERGENCY line – it shouldn’t be used to report loitering.
If you’re frustrated and want to deal with this problem, there are a couple things you can consider doing:
1) If, indeed, loitering in that area is a crime, and the owners of the BW haven’t put up any “No Loitering” signs, ask him/her if you could post some of those signs (one facing each street) on his/her business and then go out, buy the signs and then help put them up. This works like a “No Trespassing” sign – if the sign isn’t up, the prohibition is often unenforcable.
2) If these loiterers are indeed breaking the law, and the police have better things to do with their time than to respond to loitering calls, then I would recommend that you start taking pictures of the loiterers (and their vehicles if they are from outside the area) and start documenting their alleged criminal activity. I would also make sure they see you taking the pictures. A camera is an amazing deterrent, and it will also enable you to document the law-breaking and present the evidence to the police. Sometimes it takes documenting evidence to get any city official to do something about a problem.
You most certainly can call 911 to report people drinking on the sidewalk and making noise. This is a very normal 911 dispatch.
I don’t think you even call to report loitering.
If you are afraid of the loiterers, I would not photograph them. I guess it depends on whether you want the loiterers to know that it is you calling the cops on them.
I have driven by the BW everyday trying to catch the folks partying on the sidewalk in chairs, but haven’t seen them yet. Maybe I come by at the wrong time, or maybe this is weekend thing?
edg, no it’s not a weekend thing – they’re just not there every day at every time. It was much worse during the summer, right now it seems to have died back a bit with the weather fluctuations. Try going by at lunch on a warm day.
Mike, good point about the signs except I don’t think the management cares and I doubt they’d either allow the signs or use them as an enforcement tool. The camera thing is good, I’ve seen it done – but I’m not sure I want to be the one to use it for personal security reasons. I know it works, personally saw someone use it to break up a large gathering of maybe 50 people across from a legit restaurant, the folks in the gathering left when the camera came out. Also know of someone in Fulton who used it effectively. Both the photographers were men and weren’t putting themselves at risk. After seeing the managers actually sitting on the threshhold of the BW one evening last summer, I still say they’re part of the problem. The management of the BW doesn’t care as long as someone comes in and gives them money, which I refuse to do.
Well, I will remain vigilant!
We’ll have to agree to disagree on 911 calls – I would never call that line to report anything short of a serious crime or medical emergency.
I wouldn’t assume that the owners will be uncooperative. If you reason with them and explain that potential customers are avoiding his/her store on account of the loiterers, they may see the wisdom (self-interest) to work with you on this. Then again, maybe not, but if no one approaches them, nothing will ever get done. Perhaps you could discuss this idea with the police and see if they will approach the owner?
As for the cameras, I know first-hand that it is an effective crime deterrent – I’ve used them in potentially violent crowd-control situations and they work like a charm. You are correct, this is an aggressive and confrontational tactic that isn’t for everyone, but there are ways of getting around this. If this is a big problem in the area, get with your neighbors and do this TOGETHER, so that the loiterers can’t single anyone out – this will also send them the message that the neighborhood is a hostile environment. Another approach might be to employ the “drive-by” approach in an automobile. Find one person to drive, another to take the pictures (obviously you would want to obtain the use of a vehicle and driver who do not live in the immediate vicinty of the BW).
I know this is a sensitive subject with some people, but I’m going to say this anyway: Exercise your Second Amendment rights. Take a firearms training course, get a concealed weapons permit if you are eligible and maintain your skills at one of the myriad firing ranges in our area (some are very nice ones located outdoors).
Celeste & Kat, those of us who live near the Family Supermarket at 24th/Jefferson feel your pain.
From our recent experience fighting the criminal activity at that corner we have learned:
-There is no anti-loitering law in the Commonwealth of VA which effects the public right of way (sidewalk).
-To get the cops to arrive, you have to know/strongly suspect folks are engaged in illegal activity. Like selling/buying drugs (call 911) or consuming alcohol in public (call 646-5100 non emergency).
-Give the dispatcher license plate info and physical descriptions of all folks suspected.
-Washing a car for money on the street is also illegal if the person doing it doesn’t have a city-issued street vendor license (call 646-5100). This is a good thing to know if the dealers are hanging out to sell while their cars are getting washed.
Good luck & keep the pressure on.
Oh, and all those cigarette signs…call the zoning office to see if BW has exceeded their signage limit (per sqft based on street frontage.) We were able to get a few of those knocked off the Fam Supmkt by calling zoning and getting a site visit.
Work the system, baby!
Don’t forget those cameras.
i have also driven by this corner store everyday since people complained about the loiters. havent seen one yet.
This corner has improved a lot since the homes on the block started being fixed up and they got rid of the nip joint across the street. It’s still bad, but it was a lot worse two years ago.
I don’t mind there being a corner store there, it’s just that the building is such bad shape. Half the front is old Kool signs that were just painted over. Windows are boarded up with plywood, there is graffiti on the side of the building and there is always trash around. I don’t like having cigarette ads pasted up all over the place right next to a school. Actually I wouldn’t like them away from school either, but that makes it worse.
The Blue Wheeler would be a beautiful building if just a little work was put into it to make it look like a respectable place. You can’t see the nice brick and woodwork at the top of the building in this picture.
Pinch: I can tell you that 2 police cars were out there at 9:30 a.m. yesterday (Sunday). There were about 8 Loiterers and 2 cars parked in front of the vacant Chimbo school along Marshall St. I heard The Loiterers shouting out there at about 8:45 a.m. I did not see the police interact with The Loiterers. Two officers sat right there with their cars running for about 1/2 hour. The Loiterers left after it was clear that the police were staying, and the police cars stayed in that spot for about 15 minutes after The Loiterers had departed. What was really strange is that, usually when the cops come, The Loiterers will disperse, but return as soon as the cops leave and then become even louder and cruder than ever. This time, other than a few stray cars with single men sitting in them during the day, the pack of Loiterers did not return. I saw a police car sitting on the other side of Marshall St., between N 32nd and N 33rd for a while later on Sunday afternoon. So, while you may not have seen The Loiterers, I can tell you that they have definitely been there on and off over the past week. They were there when I left my house on Sat. a.m. and there when I came home Sat. afternoon. However, it does seem that they are not there as much as they had been, even with the nice weather we had last week. Iâ€™ve seen them only a few evenings, rather than every single night. I work so I canâ€™t comment much on whether or not theyâ€™ve been out there during the weekdays. However, always before, if I came home during the day, they would be there. I am almost afraid to say this, for fear of a jinx, but I was hoping that maybe the police read this blog and have maybe stepped up their patrol of the area?? Please, please, please, let that be so!!
I saw this on the crime map. It is the Blue Wheeler address. I double checked it with the city crime stats and it does say it happened at a grocery store:
April 15 2:39 p.m.
3120 Marshall St.
Was this food stamp fraud? What else could fall under the category of welfare fraud at a grocery store?
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