a tale of two businesses

Or Fear and Loathing on James St. N.

Two businesses on James St. N.:

  1. A business who has existed since 1999, starting as a record company who highlighted and supported local musicians, moving to a regular newsletter that both advertised and connected the local arts scene, finally becoming a storefront which sold art supplies, the creations of local artists and as a place of connection for the Hamilton arts scene.
  2. A business that’s existed since 2009, a night club that has hosted bands both young and local and legendary international acts within its walls.

Business One announced earlier this year that it had been given the opportunity to move to another location within the city.  A location with a decades long history of supporting the local arts scene.  A location that is known for its tireless support of local authors and publishers while providing impeccable service in a beautiful environment.  A location that is minutes away from the proprietor’s home and allows them to continue to provide the stellar service for the Hamilton area arts community.

Business One is still attempting to operate the original location as a “pop up,” offering a reduced inventory of the best sellers while also allowing the artists who are staffing this location to display and sell their wares.  This will continue while the location as Business One invested in the James St. location, buying an empty building, slowly renovating it into retail spaces with studio and office space above.

Business Two announced in the media that they would like to sell their building for $2.15 million, and are “testing the waters” to see whether they can reap a profit from their $350,000 investment after being approached by a local real estate agent.

In an anti-gentrification round table Business One was castigated as selling out and placed on the same platform as real estate investors, developers, predatory absentee landlords and a city government who uses the local arts scene as a branding tool without actually supporting the local arts scene.  Business Two (who coincidentally hosted the kickoff party for the anti-gentrification round table) was hailed by one of the speakers at the round table, “I hugged the wall and had a bit of a moment … it’s the end of an era and the end of a great space in the city.”

It’s very clear to me that Hamilton tends to have a conveniently short memory and willfully forgets all that people do for the community as a whole.  Decades of work are forgotten in a world of butthurt and feelings that people are “owed” because they frequented an establishment and gave them business over the years.

I guess some people are less scary targets than predatory investors with lawyers.  Bravo Hamilton, once again you target the little guy who has tirelessly worked to support the community, was a trailblazer in revitalizing an area of the city that even city council had written off and gave of himself and his family to uplift the arts scene to what it has become.

Dear Hamilton arts scene:

All I can do is quote Bernard Baruch:

“Do what you want to do, say what you want to say – because those who matter don’t mind and those who do mind don’t matter.”

Mixed Media and Dave Kuruc will carry on, despite what you say about him in local forums.  He’s suffered slings and arrows from all sides and continues to thrive on.  Perhaps it’s time that you turn your mirror and microscope on yourselves and ask what you’ve done to uplift the city and how you’ve contributed to gentrification.

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