Competition is a good thing

Competition makes the strong stronger, makes the efficient that much more so and forces needed changes and evolutions.

In Crozet, the Old Trail development (ultimately 2200 homes in a New Urbanist development) is a force to be reckoned with. They have plans for a fitness facility. Likely a grocery store. A pool next year. They have plans to provide “affordable” housing (which may have a different definition of “affordable” than many of us are used to).

The time for arguments about whether Old Trail should have been approved at such a scale, has past.

Crozet Park faces some very real competition. Currently, they have one of, if not the, best soccer field in the County of Albemarle. They have two very nice baseball fields, two playgrounds and an outstanding pool and swim team. When it comes to nuts and bolts, they are providing a product, and for the past forty years or so (a great history is here, provided by Crozet’s Brian Campbell) have held a monopoly in Crozet on these facilities.

But they won’t keep the reputation as having the best product if they don’t innovate and embrace their position as the hub of Crozet. Competition, by its very nature, takes advantage of the complacent.

Nostalgia can carry only so much; human nature causes people to go to the newer product. That’s why people buy new cars, new houses and new toys. “Used” items aren’t as much fun (and often not as valuable either).

Let’s hope that the Park Board sees fit to compete – the possibilities are endless.

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18 Replies to “Competition is a good thing”

  1. Crozet restaurant owners should heed the warning about becoming complacent. Their staff is killing their business. I won’t mention names, but I hope the business owners will read this and take appropriate steps. I have been marking restaurants off my list and will no longer be their patron because of the customer facing skills their people lack.

    Crozet restaurant 1, has recently taken over a spot from a restaurant I had previously marked off my list. I thought I would give them another try since they were under new management. Big mistake. We were the only ones in the place, but in a little while were joined by several other couples. After an hour and 15 minutes, everyone else in the restaurant had been served, including the person with whom I was dining! I got up and left, but found out later it was the wait staff’s fault for mixing up the tickets. Sorry, won’t be back.

    Crozet restaurant 2 serves nice pizza and sandwiches. I was told by the smirking person at the register that I couldn’t use my debit card because there is a $10 minimum. Dang, 101 cents short of the minimum! How about all those times I had been way over the minimum? Used to go there all the time, must have spent several thousand dollars there, but not any more.

    Crozet restaurant 3 has the best wings anywhere. The wait staff is absolutely horrid. It is like an imposition that you are there. Surly service? No thanks. Scratch them off the list.

    Crozet restaurant 4, great milkshakes and ice cream treats. You kind of expect to get terrible service from their teenage workforce. And they seldom fail to meet your low expectations. I have scratched them off the list so many times, but keep putting them back on because the winter storm treat is so darn good!

    There are still other restaurants in Crozet that remain on my list and there are tons just across the mountain. So Mr. or Ms. Restaurant Owner how many more customers are you going to allow your staff to turn into former customers?

  2. Hughman –

    Thank you. Your comments should be required reading for all businesses in Crozet – the existing ones and those seeking to gain a presence here. Just because something’s always been here doesn’t mean it always will be.

  3. I’ve been noticing a trend of businesses moving out of downtown Crozet and over to Clover Shops. I find this troubling since I spend 9 hours a day downtown.

    I hope the downtown rezone / rebuild continues along so that more businesses don’t have to move to have somewhere modern to call home.

  4. I’m quite sure I’ve been to Restaurant 1 listed up there (rhymes with pavers) and Holy Cow! that was an awful experience. I do hope they get their act together, but seriously the restaurant business is cut throat. There is NO room for the kind of service I was given.

    But the “Yellow Place” as it is known in my house is just wonderful. Being a Texan, I never expected to get such great mexican-inspired food here in VA.

  5. I believe Restaurant 1 has already shut down. I checked with neighbors to this establishment, and it appears to have been closed for about a week. I don’t think they lasted 2 months! If the service was that bad, it’s no wonder.

    I do wish we could have a child-friendly restaurant here that served dishes similar to one in Waynesboro (rhymes with Stacker Carol). Down to earth home cooking….pot roast, chicken and dumplings, mashed potatoes, meat loaf, and the like. I really think something like that could clean up here!

  6. I could see a Cracker Barrel (I like the rhyming game, but this one’s national so I say we can name it) coming when someone realizes that Exit 107 would be a good place to put in a hotel and some other “truck stop” type chains… Kind of like my Exit 120 has hotels, fast food and Waffle House – none of which I typically frequent… and I don’t really want that for Exit 107 either…

  7. I agree that a local restaurant would be preferable, as would not having exit 107 lose all character and become a truck-stop exit. Time will tell, however as to how the town’s core develops. We certainly need new buildings and infrastructure to encourage businesses to come and stay downtown.

  8. Give it some time Jim! You just posted that today. 😉

    (I did just set up an account so I could tell you that it works, I like WordPress)

  9. Hughman, I have tried Teresa’s, but feel like most of their cooking comes from the frozen section of Sam’s Club. Has it changed since I last ate there?

  10. Ugh!

    I haven’t been to the site lately as I’ve been very busy with soccer for my two girls, extra-curricular with all 3 of my kids, work, travel, and volunteering for the Park Board, Pool committee, rental facility at the Park and assisting the Field school in starting their first year at the Park. That being said, I was dismayed, yet not surprised, to read Jim’s comments in the initial posting. It seems to be the norm for the many of the new residence of the Crozet community. However, his comments highlight the ignorance of the issues facing the Park and the fact that we are coming to be a community that expects things without offering anything other than writing on web pages, to make it a better place for our kids and our neighbors.

    I love competition and free markets. However, free markets do not give us fields for our kids to play soccer, baseball and other open space recreation. Unfortunately, we still have to rely on the government and communities to supply that. There is NO competition for field space in Albemarle County and I can guarantee you, there never will be. There will always be a deficit of field space. There will NEVER be enough field space to accommodate the needs. So the fields mentioned above will always be utilized to their capacity. So there is no competition here. The Park Board many years ago made a deal with the county to allow them to implement the needed field space with the understanding that they would take care of and maintain fields needed by the community. A win-win situation. Field space added to the Old Trail site will only help to alleviate the strain on insufficient field space. Again, a win-win situation for Crozet, if or when it is implemented.

    Secondly, and the thing that bothers me most, is the reference to the “Park Board” as if they are some gallant representatives of individuals, like some private club, that have a function comparable to private businesses. All of the individuals on the board are volunteers that give their time and energy to the community to hopefully leave it in better shape than when they came. So the bottom line is there is no “They” when you refer to the Park Board. Everyone in this community has a right and perhaps even a responsibility to have a say on what goes on with the Crozet Park. The unfortunate thing that is coming out of the “new community” is there are too many people with ideas as to what these community organization should be doing and how they should be functioning that talk the talk, but choose not to walk the walk and participate. I find this is the most frustrating part as I spend too many hours away from my family to try to make this community a better place only to hear from the self centered that are only concerned with what is in it for them.

    Thirdly, if they did participate, they would find that many of the future ideas are being worked on by members of the board. We have been actively meeting with the YMCA of Waynesboro and Piedmont and ACAC to establish a future facility for the Crozet residents, sooner rather than later. This has also been time spent away from my family.

    A couple of other comments related to the original post. Affordable housing is a joke. I’ll bet you won’t see any single homes in Old Trail that fall into the affordable market price. You’ll see some basement townhomes that may suit the price. And I remember hearing a commercial more than a year ago for Old Trail that stated that they HAVE a recreation facility. It is still not there, and we keep hearing it will be. When it is, my guess is it will not be affordable for most of Crozet community. A pool facility will be a small community pool such as Western Ridge or too expensive for the average Crozet resident such as Farmington or Boars Head. Not to knock these facilities, but I can’t afford them, and neither will most Crozet residence. It will be wonderful for someone that can afford a home in Old Trail. So the Crozet Pool will not be competing with them (however, we will kick their buts during swim season). The same will ring true for their fitness facility for in order for the business to afford the expensive lot price, the membership will not be cheap. So the Park Board members are looking for an alternative to get a facility that the average Crozet resident can afford. We also went to the County with complete plans on constructing the future library on the Park site with a complete indoor recreation facility. The County could have had free land to construct the Library, directly in the middle of the growth area, but instead they chose to spend 1/2 a million dollars on land and cram it into a small place so they could have it in town.

    So the bottom line is the COMMUNITY VOLUNTEER PARK BOARD continues to try to provide for the future of the Crozet residents. But at the worst case, there will always be a need for field space, and even if there are no improvements, the Park would continue to be a fine open space that provides field space for our needed recreation. There is no competition for that, only demand. And as far as a monopoly goes, this land was donated to Crozet residents from a man that understood what community was supposed to be. There was no monopoly. Only giving. And as much as I love free markets, giving is still a necessity.

    However, if you want to see something more come out of the Park’s future, you need to get off your but and do like the many of us do and volunteer to make it a better place. Anyone with interest and willing to donate time can be a member of the Park Board. Most of the new Crozet residents chose to sit on the outside and complain. Thanks

  11. OK–I normally just read this blog along with other local blogs without posting but this comment has made me angry. I personally know Jim. Not only is he a volunteer with his time and money but he does care and always raises awareness in the community.
    Brian, I know Jim and his wife. They are far from “new” to the area. His wife was born here and Jim moved here as a child.
    Isn’t Jim on the board for the Crozet Music Festival that is raising money for Crozet park!? (yes, if you didn’t already know). Jim and his wife are on numerous local boards that GIVE and VOLUNTEER.
    If there is ignorance about this “crozet park” subject you need only to re-read your post to find it.
    Please post your thoughts without being malicious and tacky.

  12. Brian —

    I am truly a new resident to Crozet (2 years in January), and I’m so confused by your post! What in the world did Jim say that was so offensive? I went back to re-read the original post, trying to see what I had missed, and it looks to me as if he said, “Crozet Park will need to innovate as it faces new competition . . .” (my paraphrasing). How could this statement be anything but true? What is so threatening about it? Last year, when the pool surveyed me at the end of the season, I told them I wanted more life guard chairs, especially one by the shallower area, and recycling bins by the trash cans. Guess what? They did it! They listened, and they took the suggestions. They did not seem threatened by the new ideas. I hope that if I were to have any other ideas for the park as a whole, I would get listened to as openly and as appreciatively as I was by the pool folks. I love the park and use it for walking, swimming, playing, t-ball, and attending the events there. And I hope that the folks organizing the park would be fine with my making suggestions when I see something that would be an improvement. In my world, that IS “getting off my butt” and doing something instead of just complaining.

    Perhaps you read this when you were already frustrated about something else–maybe about being away from your family too much, as you say a number to times in your post. Your commitments are obviously important to you, and you are working hard to make the community a better place. That’s great. But don’t castigate someone for making what is an obviously true–and not at all critical–statement.

Something to say?