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: