Election 2012

That Awkward Moment When ThinkProgress Has to Explain Market Competition to the Romney Campaign

Not every small business failure is due to the economy

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Myabe they should have blamed Michelle Obama's healthy food campaign?

A lengthy Mitt Romney campaign ad attempts to lay the blame on President Barack Obama for the closure of an 80-year-old barbecue institution in Richmond, Va., named Bill's Barbecue The argument presented is that the economy hasn't improved the way Obama promised and small businesses are suffering.

Not so fast, notes Josh Israel at ThinkProgress. There's this thing called competition, too:

The Richmond Times Dispatch noted that other barbecue companies are expanding in the Virginia capital area. "Virginia's Finest Barbecue," a Richmond-based barbecue blog wrote at the time of the closing that "Bill's needed a face lift. It seemed they were still stuck somewhere between the 70?s and the 30?s, the good ol days for them," and observed that "the success of a few other Richmond bbq restaurants around town that have slowly eaten Bill's business away."

Israel further tracks down reporting that Richmond is in a development boom (though a lot of it appears to be connected to government spending). He also points out the city ranking in a Forbes list of places to work (but again careers there are heavily weighted toward government work).

Israel also flags Bill's Barbecue's record of health code violations, but he's kind enough to link to them so we can see what bullshit some of these regulations are.  Not enough light in the mens room! Food containers unlabeled! Certainly trying to deal with Nanny State overregulation can be a trial for restaurants, but you can't really pin that on Obama, even though I bet he doesn't object to a single rule.

I've seen a few other community institutions like Bill's go down myself over the past few years. While the poor state of the economy seems like an easy place to lay the blame, there's also the cultural issue that younger adults and families don't have the same connection or loyalty to these places as their Baby Boomer parents and grandparents. As populations shift and move, "institutions" like popular family restaurants sometimes get left behind.

Here's the ad for those who care to watch:

NEXT: Citing "Climate Change," Mayor Bloomberg Backs Obama

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  1. This election is about big ideas. It’s the most important in our lifetime, you know.

  2. So a business that has survived 80 years closes because of a cultural fad (as if they’ve never happened before) or competition (ditto), not Obama’s terrible economy? Okay…

    1. What was going on 80 years ago?

    2. Uh, look I’ve lived here in Richmond for all 23 and a half years of my life. Bill’s had wonderful limeade and homemade desserts. That’s pretty much it.

      They were a Richmond institution the way GM is an American institution. Except no one bailed out Bill’s.

      Now I suppose one could argue that Bills would not have gone under in a less shitty economy. Eh….it would have happened sooner or later. That place really did suck. When it closed, a bunch of people on my Facebook got all nostalgic. Finally a friend posted “If everyone who now wishes Bills hadn’t closed had eaten there regularly, it wouldn’t have closed.

      I still do miss that limeade.

  3. IT CAN BE BOTH. WHY CAN’T IT BE BOTH?

  4. Note my particular use of the word “also” in the final paragraph.

    1. Just giving you a hard time, Scott.

  5. Is George Bush finally off the hook?

    1. Obama inherited the economy from Bush…

    2. He’s on two week vacation. Should Obama win he’ll be back on the hook.

  6. I’ve seen a few other community institutions like Bill’s go down myself over the past few years. While the poor state of the economy seems like an easy place to lay the blame, there’s also the cultural issue that younger adults and families don’t have the same connection or loyalty to these places as their Baby Boomer parents and grandparents.

    If you read the journalistic lamentations when places like this go down, they tend to come from old-timers who ate there for 50 years and SWPLs looking for “authenticity” cred with their fellow SWPL douchebags.

    1. SWPLs?

      1. What do you mean white people?

        1. Yeah, I’ve seen that. But what are SWPLs in this context? Do you just mean White People? Or People Who Like Stuff White People Like?

          1. I think he’s referring to hipsters.

          2. The Bohemian Bourgeois hipster types who go out of their way to eat at obscure establishments.

  7. The original “vision” of this place probably died a long time ago when whoever came up with it died, and whoever inherited the place has less interest in it or is shitty in business and maintaining an “institution”. Then all that is left is the name, not the quality or the service or perhaps the prices. A lot of the time these places never had a real “atmosphere”, just an average style that got outdated.

    No one wants to eat in a dumpy old place with mediocre food made the “old fashioned way” when better tasting ingredients and methods have been developed. I am honestly horrified by some cooking habits that oldsters think is normal.

  8. While the poor state of the economy seems like an easy place to lay the blame, there’s also the cultural issue that younger adults and families don’t have the same connection or loyalty to these places as their Baby Boomer parents and grandparents.

    A lot of boomer also have this almost militant reaction to even minor changes at their favorite restaurant, which often leaves the owners stuck between a rock and a hard place: their clientee is increasignly aged, yet they can’t do anything to attract younger customers without losing all their current customers.

    1. That’s a common theme on “Kitchen Nightmares”–a restaurant on its ass that’s afraid of alienating their few remaining customers who have eaten there for decades.

    2. I know of an old family restaurant chain that had boring old buildings and a bland menu. They opened up some newer “hip”, clean and updated concepts serves “hip” things like fish tacos. They kept the older places open for the early bird and white trash crowds for a while until the new places settled in with the nostalgic yuppies bringing their offspring. Then they smartly closed the old dumps and seem to be doing good now.

  9. Oh, now ThinkProgress gets markets.

    1. They only understand them when it conveniently works in favor of their candidate.

      Any other time, having an elementary understanding of economics will get you shunned.

  10. Come on dude that makes no sense man!

    http://www.u-anon.tk

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