Letter From Claudio Veliz

A distant voice of support. Some of you may already know that we are in a (very) heated battle that – so we’re told – is the longest in recent US history against Dollar General, at 3+ years. We are “Smart Growth Chester”, in Chester, Vermont.

Two appeals are underway. One at the local-, and one at the State (Superior Court; Environmental Division) level. In the past 3 weeks we’ve been informed that we’ve – technically – lost both appeals. But the local decision was clearly ideologically bent and the (over-zealous and uniformed) wording may have turned the tide in our favor…our attorney’s reviewing as I type. So, yes,…we are appealing…again. ;-)

On fundraising. We have the same challenge you seem to be having. We are reaching out to local artisans to hold small benefit concerts and are organizing silent auctions. We’re doing well on that front. Have fun doing the fundraising and much more will flow.

One pattern that seems consistent: the local population is always FOR a Dollar General…at first. What’s not to like about the short-sited view that cheap stuff will be beneficial? But the more informed the population becomes, the more they reject the incursion. Keep people informed. Keep news about your fight in the news. Be nice (hard as it can sometimes be) and explain the benefits of a thriving local economy that is self-reinforcing rather than allowing predatory entities to step in and send your hard-earned cash back to Tennessee and out of local circulation.

The one thing Dollar General (or any national retail chain) can’t stand is press attention as to how they bully small communities. Keep the fight in the press and go to the big papers/web sites. Dollar General’s stock dropped for 2 weeks when our story hit the New York Times last summer. You can imagine how much they love us.

Nothing beats knowing you’re doing the right thing. Give ’em heck, folks…and don’t let up. Even when all is lost. …it ain’t. And, most of all…know that you are not alone.

We wish you all the best, Joshua Tree – Claudio Veliz, AIA, Smart Growth Chester

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