The Business of Ferguson, Missouri
I grew up in a small town in southern Illinois about the size of Livingston, Montana. On Main Street there was a café called the B&B Cafe.
Not sure why it was named that but it was the principle hangout for the big kids — the cool kids.
While it was a normal café, open to the general public, there was an “unwritten rule” that elementary school kids need not enter after school. It was high school only during that time.
The Beginning of An Era
I was very excited when I finally entered high school and I could go to the B&B Café after school. In the late 50’s cherry or vanilla Cokes and fries and jukebox rock n roll music were the order of the day. It was like a right of passage.
Next stop in my evolutionary development — the driver’s license. But now I was basking in one more step to adulthood.
I was following in the footsteps of my older siblings who went before me. Prior students initials professing their love carved into the tabletops or in the walls that lined the booths.
Then one night the B&B burned down.
The End of An Era
As you might imagine this event was devastating to me. I had barely a taste of this post-pubescent experience. I had envisioned four glorious years of lifelong memories and experiences that would now never happen.
There was a glimmer of hope when the news that they would rebuild was announced. However the new location was on a lot near an intersection not on the original site. And the red plastic booths and vinyl floors just further destroyed the image. Even calling it the B&B was a historic travesty.
The Business of Ferguson
A portion of Ferguson, Missouri met the same demise as the B&B.
Burned to the ground. A history, a culture, gone forever, to the residents who grew up there.
I’m not sure that the loss of Auto Zone, Taco Bell, McDonald's or Walgreen’s will have the same emotional impact on local citizens as the loss of my gathering place but there is loss nonetheless.
The Elephant In The Room
The growing question is one similar to what Detroit has been facing recently. Why spend one more minute in this dying city?
But there is land — land that once held buildings and businesses that are no more. “Shouldn’t I take the insurance money, provided there was any, and run?”
If the tenants don’t rebuild what happens to the land? It is now non-income producing for the owner who will still be receiving a property tax bill along with city regulations for cleaning up and maintaining the property.
Who in their right mind would want to invest in this burned out place?
Granted, the destroyed portion is not the entire city, but enough to make anyone considering opening a business there to have second thoughts. TV cameras show up and your business is gone.
Is there any profit worth that risk?
Some Final Thoughts
The demonstrators have unknowingly made themselves victims in one sense of the word. They once had a neighborhood grocery store, car parts store, pharmacy and others — but no more.
How many jobs were lost? How many people are going to be hard pressed to find new sources for those lost businesses?
Now they will have to live with the consequences of their actions. They killed the goose that lays the golden eggs.