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If Stephanie Mencimer had taken a little more time to look around her, she might have been surprised to find out who runs a lot of small businesses (“Mom and Flop,” 12/26). Many owners are individuals and couples who want to work for themselves and build a successful venture that just might support them and their families. Most of them work long hours to do it. Granted, some are more successful than others.

Not all of us want to live in a cookie-cutter world where the choice of 150 different types of toothpaste is all we get when we walk into a chain store. When a new restaurant opened in our Palisades neighborhood last spring, owned by local residents, a number of neighbors signed up as investors. Since restaurants aren’t the biggest moneymakers, there must have been other reasons. Could it be that people wanted to support a small business that might be a positive addition to their neighborhood and the city?

I believe that building stronger neighborhoods is a way to improve this city. And local businesses, operated by people who take an interest in the community where they are located, can help make that happen.

Yes, my neighborhood—with support of people across the city—tried to save the MacArthur movie theater from being converted into a CVS, a large chain store that has never shown any concern for our local community. Yes, we do have a neighborhood drug store a block away. Perhaps I don’t have as many products to choose from there as I might at CVS. I wouldn’t know. I don’t shop at CVS because my neighborhood voted overwhelmingly to boycott the store.

I have found everything I needed at the smaller drugstore. I’ve also found that they know their customers, and just as important, the customers know them. Your reporter didn’t even make an effort to spell the owner’s name correctly after she visited his store.

Our fight is about maintaining the character of a neighborhood—and hopefully building a stronger one—where people will want to come and live and shop. Maybe they’d even like to open a business here. Across the city, others are working with the same goal.

Maybe Stephanie ought to get a little more involved in her neighborhood and her city. It takes time and effort to do that, not cheap shots.

President

Palisades Citizens Association

Palisades