Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Other Side of the Square

After many, many, many posts about the self-inflicted decline of Overton Square, I wanted to point out an alternative that exists diagonally across from the beast. The alternative:

Maggie's Pharm.

Small, personal, home-grown, unique. Its smells, spaces, textures, light are classic Midtown, young and old at the same time.

Yes, it's a business that's been around since the 1970s, but I present it not as a goal in itself (although I absolutely think you should shop there) but as an ignored model for Memphis' economic future. The mega-vision that sees either empty or $250 million investment, parking lot or big box, will always overlook the simple and textured, even when its plainly visible from a failed and empty stretch of black asphalt.

As a city, we should learn from businesses, places, like Maggie's Pharm.

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Blogger Aaron said...

Yes if only we could keep businesses smaller and more personal.

I just read a great book about economic development called "Ripples from the Zambezi". It's a quick read and is highly in favor developing businesses like Maggies.

My dream job would to be one of the "economic facilators" that he focuses on in his book. Reading the book is well worth your time.

His model is consistent with your idea of developing a consortium for nonprofits.

I must admit however that our family is guilty of supporting the "big boxes" of our day and age. We frequent Target quite often. The question is how do we reprogram our culture/ourselves not to see these stores (like cars) as necessary evils so that the small guys can once again fluorish? In the meantime, I must admit a Target and healthfood store would be nice in the Pyramid.

As to what to do with Overton? It seems like it will continue to take on a life of it's own.

Take care!

8:27 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Here is a review of the book I mentioned:

8:43 AM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

The book looks great so I'm ordering it.

Nothing wrong with shopping at a big box. I'm speaking more of an economic development mindset that won't ignores a healthy, textured ecosystem but focuses all its energy on massive and privileged projects -- the big box.

Happy New Year to you and your family! I appreciate all your work.

1:45 AM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

editing mistake on last comment. Should have written "an economic development mindset that ignores a healthy textured ecosystem..."

6:37 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Your thoughts ( and humor)have been much appreciated on this end as well.

Especially your most recent post on Smart City. The 25-34 college educated demographic simply has more entreprenurial potential because they are better connected in social circles that allows them to translate their ideas into success.

This is something that should be available , as you said , to the other 95% of the population. That is where the "economic facilitator" role comes in that is mentioned in the "Ripples" book . He shares your view (and mine) that creativity and potential entrepreneurs can be found across all socio-economic classes- it's just a matter of having the right network or support team in place that allows for the entrepreneur to succeed.

Thanks for the big box clarification.

Happy New years to you as well!!

11:10 PM  

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