The ABC off license application for the inexplicably-named Five Corners Mini Mart has been denied (PDF).
This is very good news indeed.
Great news, congrats to Union Hill Civic Association!
I don’t live near 5 Corners so I didn’t make a public comment one way or another, but I often wonder what the haters of Church Hill’s mini-marts are thinking. Small businesses, whether they are swank restaurants, neighborhood joints, or mini-marts cannot survive without alcohol sales! The mark up on other products is extremely low, so alcohol sales subsidize sales of other products. Do crime and alcohol mix? Probably. But as the Prohibition showed us, eliminating the sale of alcohol doesn’t really solve the problem. I’ve said it before, but the anti-40 CH residents need to work WITH mini-mart owners not against them. We need to help businesses like the Blue Wheeler (my preferred mini-mart) to sell a greater variety of products and to improve their atmosphere so that a wider variety of patrons feel comfortable shopping in them. Some suggestions might be using the principles of CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design – http://www.cptedsecurity.com/cpted_design_guidelines.htm) to make these spaces more comfortable. Fighting ABC off leads to empty storefronts and we already have way too many of them.
The difference between the Blue Wheeler and 5 Corners is location & density of corner stores. It;s an area saturated:
Here is map showing the corner stores within 1/2 mile or so of 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue:
I am not a “hater” of the minimarts but I live very close to the Blue Wheeler and I totally hate what it brings to my front door. There are people constantly just hanging and panhandling, loud x-rated music blaring from cars left running while they go in to the store, people yelling, fights, tons of litter, etc. Many nights when I come home from work I am immediately approached by someone asking for money. These people are not nice when you tell them no, and they don’t want money so they can buy bread. They want to buy alcohol. Not just the 40s but the pints of wine too. And, yes, I call the police. A lot. The police are not supportive. There is a guy that hangs out across the street from my house – he’s not allowed in the BW so he takes up space on the sidewalk to panhandle and then, when he has enough $, he has to find someone to go into the store to buy his alcohol. He wasn’t happy that I wouldn’t give him money so he started verbally abusing me – yelling nasty things at me whenever I came outside. I called the police 3 or 4 times to no avail. I finally told the cops either they could deal with him or I would – enough was enough. They visited with the guy and, while he is still there many nights, he doesn’t yell at me any more. I love the idea of neighborhood stores but I hate what the BW brings to my block. If anyone has the ability to bridge the language barrier with the guys that own and run the BW, I am sure my neighbors and I would have some suggestions.
Amy N-B, if you can get the Blue Wheeler to clean up its act, and sell fresh produce, more power to you. But you’re going to need a lot of luck with that. I understand Lucky Canine’s problems with it very much, I spent a little over a year living a block away from it, and it was horrible.
I spent a number of years frequenting Quik Check market where Buzzy’s is now at 27th and Broad. We did succeed in getting them to take the cig ads off the windows and decorate the windows. You might start with that for BW. If they don’t cooperate in taking the cig signs off, then they don’t care.
And a lot of the corner markets in the past were subsiding drug sales just outside (one on Jefferson Ave. comes to mind), although I don’t hear that about the BW. The BW is just causing a bunch of rowdy drunks to hang around, and frankly I don’t think the mgt. cares about it. It’s been almost four years since I lived near there, and I have not heard of any changes at all.
That is great news. I hope my letter to ABC helped. But they have had a sign saying they sell beer and wine since they opened and as of 1 hour ago it was still up, do they get to provisionally sell it while waiting for their approval and now that it is denied they cannot?
Amy – I agree, CPTED principles are much needed to make many of the stores around here safer for everyone using them. But if it is between an empty space and a store with a flashing neon sign saying WE TAKE FOOD STAMPS AND SELL LIQUOR that gets robbed every month, give me the vacant building any day.
I live within a block of the BW and I really don’t find it as objectionable as some other folks do. I have often popped in to buy a 6 pack. I always say Salaam Aleikum to the owners who are extremely cordial. I am aware of the individual that Lucky Canine mentions and I’m pretty sure that he is mentally ill – he sometimes shouts at me and my husband when we walk our dog and is at other times more subdued. This is a social services issue, not a mini-mart issue.
So yeah, let’s get a group together of folks living on 31st, 32nd, Marshall, and Clay to chat with the owners of the BW and get some changes going.
@john, post #4 your map is great, but it leaves out the newish “Shockoe Mkt” at 18th and Marshall. That store came up in the hearings regarding the 5 Corners.
@ 3, Whenever I think of successful corner stores/retail businesses that have recently opened in Church Hill, I think of “The House of Homemade” at the corner of 27th and Marshall Streets. No sketchy characters hanging out in front, and the bike shop Cyclus is next door.
Alamo, Buzzy’s, Buffs Corner, Mr. Patrick Henry’s, OMG Cafe, The Roosevelt and Str8 out of Philly, The Hill Cafe, and the Tricycle Garden Farm Stand are all successful alternatives to what we used to think was the only viable retail/storefront option in Church Hill: a walled-in convenience store that doesn’t sell anything healthy or fresh.
The successful businesses mention above decided, for whatever reason, they wanted to be part of a new wave of economic activity in this community. And this has more to do with simply having an ABC Off license.
Honestly, I don’t think there is anything I could say to get the crappy corner stores to deviate from their current business model. Why? Because I am not their target customer.
I pick up the litter from my local corner stores and that’s about as far as I can get to making a difference in their “offerings” to the community.
Change happens slowly and the market rules. If it’s legal, and profitable, then business owners are free to make their own decisions about what they offer in Church Hill.
Fortunately, we are seeing visionaries open businesses around us; folks who “get it” regarding our need for something other than cigs, chips and lotto.
While I do have a long list of complaints about the BW, the situation is better than it was 5 years ago when I moved here. We used to have people hanging out and drinking in the alley behind our house. They would urinate on our fence and there was a steady stream of traffic back there. That situation is much better. Those people are still around but they moved down to the next block. However, the store itself is still just awful.
Amy N-B – we are not talking about the same person. There are a few mentally handicapped individuals that hang out at the store, however, the guy I am talking about is not one of them.
I’ve heard of several aggressive incidents at the BW in the post month or so. People trying to get into cars or knocking on car windows in an attempt to get money. There was an incident with a handgun about a month ago. Someone was mugged at 8 in the evening right in front of the store during the summer. I live too close – right across the street.
Count me in, Amy, and I’ll be happy to talk to my neighbors. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m also glad to join in if you are planning to speak to the owner about the unpleasant effect that Blue Wheeler has on that neighborhood. My sister is moving to the neighborhood in a few months and would like to do what I can to clean things up before then.
I’ve been helping fix her house up in the meantime and have noticed that the heavy presence of loiterers who seem to have no purpose in life other than getting drunk and panhandling to get more drunk. Would be great if the owner could post signs not to loiter and enforce those signs. Would also be nice if they would refrain from selling to folks that are already clearly intoxicated. I don’t think the cost would be that high to their business and they should more than recoup the lost revenue if they make the place attractive enough that some folks start shopping for actual groceries there.
It would also be nice if the owners of Blue Wheeler would clean up all the bottles that their customers toss on the sidewalks, in the alleys, and on the roofs of the neighboring area. I know they are not personally distributing the litter, but I think it’s clear that most of the litter wouldn’t be there if the Blue Wheeler were not there.
Also, I agree that they should not sell alcohol to those who are already intoxicated, but a significant number of the people I’ve seen go in there DO seem to be intoxicated, so selling alcohol to drunk people does seem to be an important part of their business.
Regardless, Blue Wheeler is a blight on that block. Almost every time that I’ve been over to my SIL’s future house, I see people outside Blue Wheeler, or stumbling around nearby, who are so blitzed that they can’t even speak clearly. (Including in the morning… I guess it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere…) I can’t imagine why any of the immediate neighbors would want to keep Blue Wheeler in business and keep these undesirables coming around their block at all hours.
The PDF of the proceedings doesn’t seem to link to anything. Does anyone know WHY it was denied? I’m glad it was because there are way too many mini marts in the area that are associated with problems. Like I said, clean the area up, work with the existing markets, and (as Elaine said so well!) find another business model that works instead of handing out ABC OFF licenses to these stores.
BTW the other businesses around here that sell alcohol, even ones with ABC OFF like Buff’s Corner, are run WAY better than any mini mart, don’t rely on alcohol sales to make their profit, and sell more wholesome stuff.
WORKING LINK TO PDF: /wp-content/uploads/2012/doc20120121142148.pdf
I also live on 32nd, a few houses down from the Blue Wheeler. My wife has lived here for 4.5 years, I’ve lived here for 2.5. The block has not changed one bit, except for some folks moving out. The BW has not changed. I have complained to the city, police, etc. with no luck. I have approached the owner and other workers there and asked them on numerous occasions to pick up their trash and prevent loitering and littering with no luck. I have taken to picking up trash once a week on the block and taking it to them in a trash bag to show them the problem. They say “I’m just one person and can’t control everything.” As long as the cops don’t care, they dont’ care. Our sector lieutenant said he stopped by after I complained of trash and excessive noise from cars. He emailed me back and said he parked on the block one night and said he didn’t hear or see anything that I was complaining about. I watched him park that night. He stayed for 2 minutes. So, only the folks living in the area can make this change. Sadly, our own tax dollars won’t help. I have been willing and waiting for others to step up(my wife too) and approach the owner of the BW and even city representatives. Along with litter, noise, public urination, loitering, crime, etc. the market is not helping home values or encouraging folks to move on the block and fix houses up. The house that foreclosed next to me was bought by a nice young couple with an infant. They are looking forward to fixing up the house but have already noted the problems on the block….and haven’t even moved in yet. With enough people, we can hopefully make a differnce. We are looking to sell if things don’t improve. I’m willing to join the folks above who have voiced concern and help. You can email me at email@example.com
Mrs Alex- I think your SIL is moving next door to me. Not sure if we met that day a bunch of family was looking at the house back in December. You can use the email above and pass it on. There are a few others on the block who care, a lot don’t but I think together we can make a difference.
That would be us. My sister or I will contact you soon. We should talk to the owner as a group and if that doesn’t work, get a petition together to ABC to see if they can get the license revoked. Everything said about the 5 corners area could have just as easily been said about the BW, maybe not quite as badly but they certainly seem to be violating some of the codes listed in that hearing. I’m fine with letting the owners know that will be our next step if they can’t police themselves.
The thing that really cracks me up is the ABC went to no end of trouble to shut down Velvet, a club that was not really disturbing anyone nearby, but won’t do shit to actually enforce regulations when it does impact residents. Sam Moore’s a slimeball for sure but he kept his business to himself in that club. I guess ABC only wants to do their job when they can send their agents to get a BJ as part of their investigation. When it means watching drunks piss on stuff, it’s considerably less interesting.
Kudos to the dedicated neighbors of Union Hill! Ocean Grocery is a similar blight on the neighborhood and stumbling block to improved public health. We need to ask for increased enforcement there and ask for restrictions on their ABC license.
Folks, as a former resident of the 500 block of 32nd St., I don’t really have a dog in this show re the BW – but am reading this with interest. I suggest that you knock on a few doors on a weekend when people might be home – and either meet the residents, or leave a flyer of some sort, in an effort to gain strength in numbers.. In particular, hit the even numbers in the middle of the 400 block of 32nd, and the first two odd numbers of the 500 block. I think you will find a few people who will support you in your efforts.
I don’t know if CAPS can help but you might also try that. I’m really tired of people defending center city markets that allow drunks to loiter and spread trash. There ARE responsible owners,and I think the crappy stores should be held accountable. Some of them have, in the past, encouraged drug dealing, dealt in stolen property, and related things – I’m thinking of a market in the 1990s on Jefferson Ave. that finally got closed down for all those things and more. Family who owned it had a string of similar stores from here to Petersburg. I think the BW just encourages drunks, loitering, and trash, but that’s enough to get people to take action. Best of luck to you! (I said that a year or more ago – maybe this time action will happen!)
I’m a couple of houses down from Lucky Dog and would be interested in the aforementioned actions. My wife and I have children 2 and 4 and any less blight would certainly be appreciated by us. You should be able to access my email from clicking on my name.
@Alex – Community Assisted Public Safety (http://www.richmondgov.com/CommunityAssistedPublicSafety/index.aspx) Good for taking care of code violations & community nuisances.
I’ve heard from a few people who are interested in talking to the BW. I plan to knock on some doors this weekend. Again, anyone who would like to see some changes made at the Blue Wheeler, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’d be interested in talking to the BW management staff in a respectful and culturally-appropriate way – not trying to shut them down @Alex – but rather asking them to make some changes. I think it could be useful to have a meeting of neighbors and then see if the owner and one of his younger English-speaking relatives could meet with us on a second occasion. Again, I have purchased items at the BW on occasion as have many of my neighbors on 31st, so the BW does contribute a service I find valuable. Also, I would much rather see alcohol purchased on foot then by car and the BW definitely helps with that!
Amy, just to be clear, my strong preference would be to work with BW to help turn the store from a serious liability into an asset for the community. Having a convenience store with a nice selection of food could be great. I just want to be prepared in case that doesn’t prove to be a fruitful avenue as it sounds like might be the case based on what some folks have said here. I can take the lead on collecting emails for folks who are interested in meeting to discuss this and will send out something shortly to those who have posted theirs already on here.
Responsible corner market > no corner market at all > negiligent corner market
…in my opinion.
One thought is that I suspect that BW is losing a lot of potential sales by being highly sketchy. If we can approach this from the perspective of “we’d like to shop there but will only do so if you clean up” we may be able to find a win / win. Total grocery sales from a dozen or so neighbors should probably add up to a lot more than three 40s a day for a couple dozen others that they sell now.
talking about race in derisive tones alex only confirms your status as a bigot. shit dude i wouldnt want to post my full name either if i was such an asshat. 1861 called .they saved you a spot on the team .please move away…..and yeah your mystery status does make me feel free to go a little over the top with insults. goof,youre a cartoon …..and not even a funny one. email who ? the rest of the mystery racist association? good luck and crawl back under the house with the other vermin.2012 doesnt need ya.
Lucky Canine has already contacted me about this, but apparently my email address did not show up in the hyperlink. email@example.com if anyone wants to contact me in regards.
Amy, can you post an email address so I can add you to the list of folks who are interested in getting behind something like this? I’m going to send an email to the group to see if we can catch up sometime soon. Would like to have you there if you are interested as you seem to have some good context and perspective.
Sounds like you guys are getting organized, that’s how things get done. Maybe a list of what you want – prioritize it – less trash, less drunken loiterers…back in the day when Quik Check market was around, we asked them to take the cig posters off the windows in an effort to make it look more welcoming.
If anyone with an IQ over 80 can let me know where I am talking about race above, please help me find it. I referenced some incidents committed by folks who I am not even sure what race they are. Unless there some sort of cultural difference that means that these acts were committed by another race for sure (which I seriously doubt because I know plenty of civilized folks of every race), I don’t think I’ve said a word about race here. Again, reading race into bad behavior is offensive and demeaning to responsible members of a community.
Regarding the cigarette posters.
These are included in the total square-footage allowed for signage at the business. You can call the city zoning officer assigned to the address, and find out what the maximum square footage of advertising/signage is allotted for that business.
If the business is “over their limit” the cigarette signs will come down once the zoning officer visits the site and informs the business they’re in violation of city zoning regulations.
This process has worked for me in the past. Over time, the signs may slowly start to go back up as personnel change at the business location and the cig co’s keep sending the advertising materials. You might have to repeat the process, but at least you know the drill.
alex your bread crumb bonafide trail is available to anyone who can read your posts. quit yer crying and if you want crediblity post under your real name like an adult. i correspond with many folks who have viewpoints opposed to my own on facebook and laugh at your tortured attempts to justify what is essentially bad citizenship in action.you can always post under your real name and then agree with yourself under another screen names. plenty of your repellent fellow bigots like to do that!using a sad murder to justify your own behavior would be funny if it wasnt so desperate…..how about a few comments from the silent majority. it is the “peoples” news…..signing off until somebody summons me again ala “candyman” ****movie reference*******
Ok, we’re now waaaay off topic here, but Buddy, I think you’re being unfair to Alex.
The fact he/she want’s to post anonymously is one thing, but why call him/her a racist? There is nothing in his remarks here that would indicate that is the case.
Whenever I go to a community-wide meeting (the R63 zoning meetings come to mind,) and the corner stores come up in conversation, the first people to raise their hands and complain about the trash, noise and street life surrounding the legacy corner stores are the senior African American women.
I don’t think they are racist. They just want a nice place to live.
Last time I attended a New Visions Civic League meeting, discussion centered on a vacant storefront on Fairmount and options for a business there. The folks who most strongly opposed a corner store were middle age Black men. Why? Because they thought it would be like many of the other stores they already knew in Church Hill and they didn’t want all the headaches they associated with “those types” of stores.
It’s not about race. It’s about quality of life.
People want to buy fresh healthy products within walking distance of their homes. They’re tired of picking up the trash, dodging the hang-out scene and hearing the loud
music and engines running.
Thanks for the support Elaine. You made my point more eloquently than I can.
Based on what I’ve seen here, Buddy seems to believe attempts to clean up the neighborhood are always driven by racial prejudices and it couldn’t possibly be that anyone other than white bigots would want to stop folks from pissing, littering and generally making the place a seedy mess. Sadly, that makes it seem he has a pretty low opinion of his African American neighbors. I can’t imagine anyone I know of any race thinking these are a good thing but I guess Buddy knows a different crowd. If so, it would be great if he’d meet some of the more inspirational African American leaders in the community (and there are plenty).
I don’t worry about his perspective anyway. If anyone is stuck in the past, it’s him. Instead of 1861, it’s the Stone Ages where the kind of behavior Buddy seems to think is part of a good community was commonplace. He’s struggling to keep up with a neighborhood that’s cleaning up its act and working to become a model of a successfully integrated neighborhood where people take pride and want those around themselves to succeed.
For the record, I am NOT interested in shutting down the Blue Wheeler. Having said that, I am tired of hearing excuses – from the BW, from the police, and from the ABC – on why this situation cannot be fixed. If I have to play hard ball, I will, but I think this situation can be greatly improved if the parties involved take some responsibility. Also, the actual owner of the BW speaks perfect English.
Sounds like there is enough community support that the business owner, or City should listen if everyone coordinates. I hope all of those in the vicinity of BW or who have felt affected by it take it beyond this website and push for a change. Everyone complaining individually probably will not do a lot, but if you show that there is a group in the community who this is a problem for, they really should listen.
This thread is a real bummer. Out of all the corner stores to pick on….. the Blue Wheeler? My gf only went to the bw when we lived in Chimbo because it was well lit and she felt safe. Maybe you guys have seen a spike in riff raff cause they started stayin’ open til midnight?
If the people that loath this place bought something from there every once and while maybe the mgmt would give a shit about ya’ll and try to accomodate. In passing I mentioned I wanted to buy a case of selzer water, and they ordered it. I was super sick and needed some flu medicine and left my cash at home. They fronted me. Another time they actually looked out for me, when a customer was heckling me for being a “faggot” on a girls bike. Currently the “haters” seem like non-customers on a mission. I think Mother Teresa could run that place and it would still be a beacon for riff raff. Agreed that the BW should respect the neighbors, but it sounds like there is no respect in their direction for feeding their kids. It’s hard for a shop owner to constantly police. By the end of the day you are mentally worn and has affected the service provided.
@Alex I’m glad you’re cleaning up the neighborhood before your sister gets here, I don’t know what we would’ve done without you
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