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Monday, October 5, 2009

Fort Thomas Retail Update

As I walked by the empty store front that used to be the Mustard Seed on Fort Thomas Avenue I couldn't help but wonder what the future holds for the Central Business District. Again we lose another business because it is difficult to get good signage and a lack of support...not from the community but from the property owners who are unwilling to support the vision of moving our retail business districts forward. Locating the business in neighboring Southgate worked better for Amanda after a short time in Fort Thomas.
CORRECTION - Amanda does not have a store front in Southgate and is still running her catering business out of a friend's catering kitchen in Hebron until she decides her next step.

What if there had been vision by the city and some support for a busy street corner? We could have had an amazing wine shop next door to a great sidewalk cafe. Again, don't blame the citizens of Fort Thomas for not supporting their businesses. We must have property owners who are willing to give a small business owner some help - even if it means the city steps in with some help. This could be a non-profit type organization like 3CDC in Cincinnati that helps bridge the gap between startup and business success.

Without supportive zoning and a city council that continues to only have vision to update sidewalks and awnings where will businesses like the independent drug store, Ft Thomas Drug Center, turn when increased competition arrives from the Kroger and Target pharmacies that will be opening in the Newport Pavilion?

I got a bit of an answer as it relates to how Ft Thomas Drug Center hopes to compete when I opened my mail today. I received a card from the Good Neighbor Pharmacy that was branded with the Ft Thomas Drug Center name. It turns out that the large pharmaceutical company AmerisourceBergen has created a co-op of sorts for independent pharmacists to help fight the large chain stores. While it makes for some great press when the large pharma company helps out the independent business owner I am sure there is a bit of self-serving in it somewhere. The postcard provides some free offers and is the first piece of marketing I ever remember seeing by the drug store.


  1. Check out this link to an interesting article about empty store fronts in the Boston area. It's an article and pictures posted by a Harvard prof. The post about Ft. Thomas' empty store fronts made me think of it.

  2. I am hearing that Pergola may be having some issues and may have to close as soon as next week. It might be something worth investigating.

  3. I am hearing rumors that Pergola is having issues, and may have to close as soon as next week. It might be something worth investigating.

  4. When I suggested improvements, like you mentioned, to city council, I was met with: "if you want to live in Hyde Park then move to Hyde Park" and "we want Fort Thomas as a place to live not a place to shop". As long as that mentality is running things, Fort Thomas will continue to lose businesses and people like us. We moved to Anderson Township in July.

  5. Wow, I'm glad to hear that council has the "we want Fort Thomas as a place to live not a place to shop" attitude. I can go less than 5 miles up or down the road and shop all I want. I didn't move to Ft. Thomas for good shopping - I moved here because of the schools and the "small-town" feel of the city. I like that our city is insulated from "the almighty retail" and the traffic it brings.

  6. My wife just went to Pergola and the restaurant is closed?

  7. I grew up in Ft. Thomas, my father had a business here for over 40 years, a small grocery store (Smith's Grocery) up the street from our house. He had a butcher counter and also a delivery service. It was a good successful business, he provided a valuable service to our community and his customers were very loyal.
    At that time, there was also Enslen's Grocery at Inverness. They lasted many years past my father's store, he retired from his in 1973. It is sad to see small business like that disappear, but times are what they are and neither could survive the huge chain grocery stores.

    I have been frustrated also by businesses closing in our town and yes we DO need restaurants, small stores, cafes to make this great town even better. The business distict should be vibrant with places where people can stop and eat, socialize and listen to music. Not all things appeal to all residents but there should be something besides banks and insurance offices! Some people never want things to change and that is so short sighted.. we are NOT talking about huge mega-stores, but about small locally owned businesses that most people will support. How frustrating for anyone that wants to live and work here and provide either a lovely coffee shop or restaurant with good food and good service (which Pergola had!).

    I do not normally respond to comments but after reading so many I could not stay silent. This is a wonderful town, we need all kinds of business to be vibrant and I hope that something can be done to change the current trend of things, otherwise we will see things continue to move, to Bellevue or Dayton or other small towns where their local businesses thrive!

    Darrin Murriner, I have not met you but I hope to sometime. You are dead on! Thank you for your blog.

    By the way, I am not afraid to put my name on here. Mary Lou (Smith) Keller.

  8. Mary Lou - thank you for your thoughts and a little reminder of our past. I think we can have a great retail future as well we just need a few more pieces to fall into place.