Keep Nashville’s Business Districts Independent!


Maintaining the unique character of our neighborhoods and the appeal of their commercial districts is essential to our economic vitality and well-being as a city. Yet it is becoming more and more difficult for a quickly growing Nashville. But it doesn’t have to be this way, this is a direct result of the policies or lack of policies in place.

In many neighborhoods we are seeing the proliferation of “formula businesses” – stores and restaurants that have standardized services, decor, methods of operations that make them virtually identical to businesses elsewhere. Often times these businesses are chains with absentee business owners or investment groups made up of venture capitalists looking  to quickly get a return on  their investments with strategies that focus on quick, aggressive growth; sometimes involving consumption of small, independent businesses.

This trend is driving up the cost of commercial property resulting in insufficient opportunities for independent entrepreneurs to start or expand. We are seeing property owners leave their retail spaces available for long periods of time in hopes of attracting businesses with economies of scale. This impacts commercial districts by making the districts less vibrant, lowering foot traffic and lessening the distinctive character of the area. In addition, the existing businesses are also affected when this happens.

Cookie-cutter business models seeking out the next hot market and neighborhood more easily come and go. There will always be another “it city” or new concept to quickly scale for profit. Independent merchants,  more often than not, play the long game. Focusing on strengthening their roots in the community and serving based on insight and relationships with the residents.

Are you seeing a proliferation of formula businesses in your neighborhood? Email your City Councilmember and ask them how they are working to ensure the character of your neighborhood business district remains unique and vibrant with independent, community-serving businesses. Let them know you want to foster a business district that most genuinely serves the needs and desires of your  unique neighborhood.

Nashville has always been a city made up of creators, not merely consumers. Let’s ensure our neighborhood commercial districts continue to reflect that!

Together we can use our voice, votes and spending to keep Nashville’s independent spirit thriving! The power is IN the people.

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