by Kari Kruse
O.T.R. has seen more than its fair share of small businesses come and go. Most people don’t realize the sacrifices the owners make and the struggles they face. If you ask any business owner why they started their business, they would probably say because they saw a need. With large corporations on the rise and the idea that bigger really is better, small businesses now have a need of their own: our support.
Just as individual people are being removed from their homes in Over the Rhine, smaller businesses are also being removed to make room for the new and better. Landlords are raising the rent to “market rate” or just selling the buildings to developers who want the prime real estate and these businesses are faced with the decision to relocate or close for good.
People who are experiencing homelessness or living in poverty can go to shelters or pantries to receive help from the community. Small businesses and their owners are in the same kind of situation as their customers, but without help.
Reginald Stroud’s convenience store Anybody’s Dream is an example of a successful locally owned, family run business. Stroud and his family lost their home, the store, and a martial arts studio in OTR in 2014 after Urban Sites bought the building he was in. He was faced with the difficulty of finding a new home without his main source of income, but he also knew that his customers were suffering too. While he was fortunate enough to relocate and reopen his store, it took everything he had to do so.
I realize that just shopping at local businesses and utilizing their services are not going to keep the rent from going up or from the owner selling the building. I also realize that the average resident in OTR can’t support every small business, as many of them struggle to support their own families. No one family or small group of individuals can do this on their own. We need to come together and support our local businesses just as they have been there for community members.
Power Inspires Progress is an example of this, as it was founded by community members who wanted to be able to help those who were receiving help but still struggling. This organization runs Venice on Vine, a small business, and they hire people in the community who would otherwise be unemployed and gives them valuable skills and job training. This successful business has given people in O.T.R. hope and we should support them in any way we can.
Hubert Heuck was the owner of the Heuck Opera House, the same building Venice on Vine uses today, back in the 1920’s. He renamed it The People’s Theater in 1928 because he knew that without the people who came to his theater, there wouldn’t be a theater.
Small businesses appreciate and support their communities and their communities need to be there for small businesses when they are struggling. In OTR, businesses are experiencing the same displacement as individuals and families but don’t have anywhere to turn for help but to their customers.