Choosing the side of Main Street
We want a local economy run by Beckys and Kims.
Becky Crabtree and Kim Jackson were watching the Peterstown Market Street disappear before their eyes. The old bank had been razed. E.I. Terry’s Department Store (est. 1937) was slated to be next.
They weren’t about to let that happen. They teamed up with 8 of their neighbors to form the non-profit Peterstown Preservation, Inc—and bought the building. Three years later, the building houses a Family Resource Network satellite office, a “mini-museum of local artifacts,” a shop featuring work from 35 local artists (Appalachian Art and Gifts), and the only event space in town.
They’ve played host to cub scout troops, baby showers, music classes, yard sales, bingo nights, 4H clubs, and even a wedding. (The bride made a grand entrance down the staircase from what once was the ladies shoe department.)
What’s their advice for folks who want to do this on their own Main streets?
“Give people the opportunity to feel good about doing something for the community. That feeling is better than money.”
That’s how they got the fire alarm system donated. And the walls painted. And the doors installed…
But money’s important too. Becky and Kim didn’t get any help from state government, which was busy sending local wealth to out-of-state companies. Luckily, Kim is a crack grant writer… but not every community has one of those.
Government plays favorites. Every year, our tax dollars get robbed by out of state companies, so that local businesses, workers, buildings, and non-profits get the shaft. We could instead be the state that invests our money on our own people. We could be the state that employs a team of grantwriters to help jumpstart local leaders like Kim and Becky. We could be the state where our police force fights to make out-of-state companies play by the rules, instead of going after the sick and the poor who are left in those company’s wake.
The economics are simple. Becky and Kim know how to stretch a dollar better than any monopoly. And the wealth they create ain’t gonna leave.