Archive for Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Green groceries

New market attempts to fill natural, healthy niche for downtown residents

The Casbah Market, 803 Mass., opened Jan. 1. Owners are, from left, Cassy Ainsworth, Josh Millstein and his sister, Casey Millstein.

The Casbah Market, 803 Mass., opened Jan. 1. Owners are, from left, Cassy Ainsworth, Josh Millstein and his sister, Casey Millstein.

January 30, 2008

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By the numbers: Groceries in downtown Lawrence

12: Number of years Lawrence has subsisted without a downtown grocery.

186: Number of grocery suppliers in Lawrence as a whole between 1900 and 1956.

69: Number of grocery suppliers to come and go on Massachusetts Street from 1900 to the Great Depression.

4: Number of years (nearly) that Wild Oats was at 1040 Vt. before it closed in 1996, leaving downtown without a grocery.

1916: Year Piggly Wiggly, 935 Mass., became the first chain to introduce self-service grocery (before, customers were waited on by clerks).

1,800: Square feet of the average grocery in Lawrence in 1909.

2,200: Square feet of The Casbah Market.

67,313: Square feet of HyVee, 4000 W. Sixth St.

Those living in downtown Lawrence have easy access to nearly every type of food - American, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Greek, Middle Eastern, Indian, Mexican, Thai and more. But for years, the same folks have been out of luck if they were the cook-at-home type.

That all changed Jan. 1, when The Casbah Market opened its doors at 803 Mass.

"My fiance and I live downtown, so we kind of always thought that downtown needed something to make downtown a whole community," says Cassy Ainsworth. "(We) thought that it needed a grocery store."

After the most recent incarnation of the Casbah - a clothing boutique - closed a year ago, Ainsworth, 25, her fiance, Josh Millstein, 30, and his sister Casey, 23, decided they would be the ones to fill the void.

They see their new store as a customer service - not just because it is the first downtown grocery in Lawrence since Wild Oats closed in 1996, but also because it is a downtown grocery that happens to be organic, healthy and devoid of cheesy puffs.

"We want to provide them with a healthy diet at a reasonable cost because I think that you are what you eat," Josh Millstein says. "It definitely makes a difference in your mood, your performance and your happiness. All of it. You go eat a total grease bomb, you kind of feel it. It brings you down."

There are no grease bombs in sight at The Casbah Market.

Nor is there meat. The three owners are vegetarians and proud purveyors of a healthier lifestyle.

"We're all very healthy," Casey Millstein says. "Josh and I are born-and-raised vegetarians, and the more we learn about our food and our environment, we're really concerned with trying to spread the educational value of how important it is to put clean food in your body. And how easy it is. Some people think it's an upper-class lifestyle, and it's just not. That's why we're trying to do our best to keep our prices low, so everybody can live healthy."

Whole food for everybody

What is in the store is everything else one would expect from a market - without all the processed, unnatural ingredients. That's something the owners know goes against the grain.

"I expected more negative feedback than we got," says Ainsworth of customer reaction to the store's focus. "I guess it's a reflection of the societal viewpoint on the importance of being healthy."

What customers can find are shelves, neatly lined to one side opposite the store's produce section, and stocked with everything from organic tea to natural cleaning supplies to cult favorite No Pudge! brownie mix.

Down the steps brings one to the bulk area, where customers can stock up on granola, trail mix, seeds and other items. Next to the bulk area is a selection of prepared, refrigerated and frozen foods - milk, cheese, yogurt, even beet hummus.

To the left of the prepared foods is the Nice Cafe, the store's take-away business that has a Caribbean flavor. Jesseman Gray, the cafe's cook, created the menu of salads, soups, juices and entrees with one cohesive purpose in mind - that his food be as healthy as possible.

"My goal for the cafe is really to provide whole food - really low-fat, whole, fresh food at a really reasonable price. Because there's this misconception ... that it has to cost a ton of money," Gray says. "I think it's an investment."

The cafe, Gray says, also made its own investment in that it uses more expensive to-go containers that are better for the environment. The containers are biodegradable, compostable and made from renewable resources.

Good vibes

Like its food, the store's environment is at the complete end of the spectrum from the traditional grocery store - no harsh fluorescent lighting, crowded spaces or cleanup on aisle five. With reggae music gently playing, the feeling is inviting and warm.

Warm - exactly like the place that inspired the store's desired feeling: Jamaica. The Millstein family has taken dozens of trips to the island and hoped to give the store the same breezy, laid-back feel.

The owners also are looking to recreate the vibe David and Susan Millstein, Josh and Casey's parents and the owners of the Casbah building, were able to experience as business owners decades ago.

"Back when them and all their friends were buying up the real estate in the '60s and '70s, it was this really funky, groovy kind of deal, and we're just trying to resurrect that spirit," Casey Millstein says. "We're trying to be involved with everybody (downtown) and try to form a really stable community. That's what we're here for, you know."

They believe the stores should work together to support each other - and that connection includes like-minded businesses such as the Community Mercantile, 901 Iowa. Though they both cater to customers who are looking for an alternative to the conventional, Jeanie Wells, general manager of the Merc, says she has been happy to answer the owners' questions since the birth of their business plan.

"I think it's great that downtown has some good choices for good food," Wells says. "When we first heard about it, we were excited. I think that Lawrence is a town where more and more people value quality food, organic food, local growers and are happy to make that connection. We welcome them. We've had a very friendly relationship with them."

Also welcoming the store are the folks the Casbah owners are most would like to have a relationship with - the customers.

"It's very charming," says first-time Casbah Market customer Krystyn Renfro of Lawrence. "I was so sad to see the Casbah (boutique) leave, I'm so excited to see something with some integrity come in its place."

Staff writer Sarah Henning can be reached at 832-7187.

Comments

Kookamooka 7 years, 3 months ago

I hope they don't regularly sit on the veggies!

Oracle_of_Rhode 7 years, 3 months ago

Good luck! I'll be shoppin' at the Casbah!

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

This store fills a void that some urban consultants noted about 18 months ago. New economic growth using existing resources is a welcome site. Additional product no doubt will come along as the market dictates.

Thank you Casbah for dropping by.

busymom 7 years, 3 months ago

Not that I agree that downtown needs a grocery store, however I do think it was a good idea to use the existing space for it rather than spending city money to build one.

Danielle Brunin 7 years, 3 months ago

I thought the prices were very reasonable, especially compared to the Merc, and it is a very relaxing place to shop. I hope they do very well!

bangaranggerg 7 years, 3 months ago

Cassy Ainsworth is beautiful. Drop dead gorgeous, and an amazing person.

Sigmund 7 years, 3 months ago

wheat_harvest (Anonymous) says: "Your shifting from your original argument about appropriate use of tax payer dollars."

My comments addressed the points in your post. To the extent your post did drifted from my original point I can see how you might be misled into believing I shifted from my original argument. so I will return to it.

The "risk of doing business" includes both the costs of proper fire sprinklers and the cost of studying the market to insure you are not using scarce capital unwisely. Both of these are costs of doing business and were subsidized by public taxpayer dollars to benefit a private party. It is wrong regardless if the beneficiaries are a couple of trust fund babies or Kroger shareholders.

If your understanding is that after paying local real estate taxes, collecting sales taxes, paying managers, clerks, butchers, and cashiers who pay income taxes; and then after paying corporate income taxes and their share of the employees social security taxes, unemployment taxes, and workers compensation taxes; and then paying all their bills to their suppliers, dividends to shareholders, and interest on bonds to their creditors who lent them money, "all the profit goes to Cincinnati, Ohio" your understanding of business and economics is woefully incomplete. I'll fill in a few detail for you to consider.

Kroeger deposits what little profit they make on their investment, typically 3%-5% in a bank that loans out the money to people nationwide, some in Lawrence who buy cars from Laird Noller, homes of Lawrence residents, or pay college expenses at KU. It is actually is a bit more complicated than your simplistic view, but suffice to say the economic benefit of Dillons to the Feds, Kansas, and Lawrence is orders of magnitude greater than that of the Cash-bah.

brainfreeze 7 years, 3 months ago

Cassie i'm so proud of you! i can't wait to come in and see what you've done with the place

and you know we need to catch up...it's been too long since we "paid attention" in class ;)

brainfreeze 7 years, 3 months ago

also, disregard posts from compy, you shouldn't waste time worrying about those who don't have the ambition to try their own hand at a business downtown

TheEleventhStephanie 7 years, 3 months ago

They've done a wonderful job restoring the inside of that building, that's for sure.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

At least the entire family is involved in supporting downtown Lawrence which generates revenue for our community. Not only that see the strength is preserving Downtown as a business district thus jobs. Sunflower Outdoor & Bike and the Liberty Hall corner which includes the Free State Brewery building,Raven Book Store and the coffee shop( I believe) are other examples.

Perfect examples of how existing resources continue to generate new economic growth = SMART business people.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Compy 7 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Compy 7 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

Central Soyfoods is another example of their efforts. The Casbah Market fits in perfectly to the family portfolio. This family has been involved with The Merc over the years as well ( the Oldfathers have been helpful as well). Smart business people know how to make existing resources work.

Katie180 7 years, 3 months ago

I happen to know that these three have done this ALL on their own!! They have done a great job and have not used "parental resources" as some have suggested. They have worked long, hard hours and have really put their heart into the store. It says a lot for people to believe in something and actually take action on it! I think the store is amazing and the Nice Cafe can feed my family healthy food for the same price as any drive thru in town. I will take that any day over grease!

Hilary Morton 7 years, 3 months ago

We DO need a grocery store downtown. There's a whole chunk of us living in downtown, East Lawrence and around who walk or bike everywhere, and to have a grocery store downtown has made my life car-free (except to and from work). Now, can we get a dentist's office there, too?

Looking forward to shopping at the Casbah!

Sagecasey 7 years, 3 months ago

Their parents own the building. Do you really think that they pay the same rent if any that normal tenants downtown would pay?

George_Braziller 7 years, 3 months ago

Hooray!!! I'm glad it's finally open. I agree with hilary - there are a LOT of us living in the downtown area who have needed something like this for years.

akuna 7 years, 3 months ago

Go to their Nice Cafe and try a Jerk Pattie. They are effing great! And fast!

trinity 7 years, 3 months ago

i'm with you, write-what, no cheezy poofs??? sigh

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

"Sagecasey (Anonymous) says:

Their parents own the building. Do you really think that they pay the same rent if any that normal tenants downtown would pay?"

Do you have information of that nature?

These owners are hard working people. How this business is financed I do not know. But what I perceive is their parents expect them to know the real truths about making a business work and I do have reason to believe silver platters are not on the table.

TommyOGara 7 years, 3 months ago

What a wonderful store from wonderful people. The best way is to be healthy and happy. Cheers!

fu7il3 7 years, 3 months ago

It'll be interesting to see how low of prices there are. I don't see how they will be able to keep them low enough to compete with chain stores. They might be able to compete with the Merc, but I can't afford to shop there either.

paavopetie 7 years, 3 months ago

What did merrill and Compy write to get their comments deleted? It's an article about a downtown grocery store.

Matt Toplikar 7 years, 3 months ago

I'm glad to see a story about this great idea from these three wonderful people. The best of luck to you my friends.

Boston_Charley 7 years, 3 months ago

"Become" such a mecca?! Hey, read some history--Lawrence has always been a magnet for interesting people, thank heaven.

blindrabbit 7 years, 3 months ago

Best of luck, downtown Lawrence certaintly needs this; I hope they don't limit their offerings (meat etc) so much that they don't attract the potentials.

An interesting aside, the comment about property owners buying-up downtown properties in the 60's and 70's revives the old questions about what funded these acquisitions. Get the drift!!

RedwoodCoast 7 years, 3 months ago

I was employed at the Merc at its current location for an unspecified period of time. Personally, the direction they are going with their business philosophy is contrary to what I look for in a coop (they don't even have the word coop on their sign anymore). A local natural foods philosophy has been replaced by this swanky local gourmet food attitude. It just got darn stuffy and fake in that place. That is why I'm glad to see that someone in town has reestablished the attitude that used to make me love the Merc. Granted, the Merc is a good place, but I'm afraid that its modus operandi drives me up the wall.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

The Placemakers Study covered the entire city of which downtown was a one small part. The Casbah Market had nothing to do with Placemaker coming to town. I believe Placemaker was discovered by Mayor Hack. The areas of town that received a strong thumbs up.... Old East and Old West parts of the city.

The faces in the paper were among the hired hands to get The Casbah remodeled and ready for business. The "deli man" not pictured was also one of the craftsman involved. Sanding,building,staining,scrubbing and sweating = 4 of the "management team". Also some of the pieces in the store were milled from local wood. Dave Milstein is a fine craftsman and can repair most anything on the planet. The front of Sarah's Fabric and the new interior of Sunflower Outdoor and Bike I believed were influenced by Dave Milstein. This family is definitely a hands on group.

City code does mandate sprinklers I believe.

The Casbah Market will be a business to serve those who who need only a few items and can be accomplished on foot or bike. Very nice. The Casbah Market will serve those who want to shop there. It is excellent use of downtown retail space and a prime example of Smart Growth. Organic Juice and Smoothies is icing on the cake. Yumo!

busymom 7 years, 3 months ago

George_Brailler wrote: "It's eight blocks from the END of downtown. Cross the river and you are talking three or four miles through the congestion of 6th and the bridge to the nearest place to just buy an onion for your pot of stew."

I think you just proved that North Lawrence needs a grocery store. Again that is because there used to be one.

mmiller 7 years, 3 months ago

This is cool! I'll stop by this weekend. I'm a very healthy, phyiscally fit person. This sounds promising!

mmmskyscraper 7 years, 3 months ago

I'm thrilled for this place. Can't wait to go soon!

Raymond Munoz 7 years, 3 months ago

Hilary... there is one, maybe even two, dental offices downtown. And if they're too expensive for you, you can always bike on over to the Douglas County Dental Clinic. We're just right across from the hospital and offer sliding scale fees based on income. Thanks!

Drew Alan 7 years, 3 months ago

I can see not selling meat hurting them a little bit, because if people who aren't vegetarian have to go somewhere else to buy their meat then are they going to go the casbah to buy their veggies? I know I like making as few trips as possible when getting all that stuff. Also to those complaining about the prices of organic food... if more people started buying it, more farms would go organic, and then the prices of organic food would go down.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

"paavopetie (Anonymous) says:

What did merrill and Compy write to get their comments deleted? It's an article about a downtown grocery store."

It was justified.

This is about groceries. The Merc and their few thousand members along with The Casbah are giving back to the community. Both will support local suppliers/farmers.

RedwoodCoast 7 years, 3 months ago

Best to read up on epicureanism before entering the Merc.

pip2006 7 years, 3 months ago

The property is owned by David Millstein and the county property values are $493,000. Tell me how these young individuals qualify for a business plan with that overhead expense?? On their own? I doubt it. Someone is lining their pockets. I am all for new business but don't say you are doing it on your own when daddy owns the building.

RedwoodCoast 7 years, 3 months ago

So what if daddy owns the building. It is pretty obviously a family enterprise.

kbelot 7 years, 3 months ago

The store is FABULOUS! Casey, Josh and Cassy have worked tirelessly to make The Casbah Market a success and to ensure it serves the needs of all Lawrencians. By supporting their efforts we can all be more health conscious while sustaining local businesses and farmers. Talk about a win-win situation for Lawrence!! I am very proud of my dear friends!!

Staci Dark Simpson 7 years, 3 months ago

So are you guys saying that if your parents owned a building and offered to help you get a business started you would turn it down? Besides the building there is a lots more that goes into planning a business. Good for them I say!

Sigmund 7 years, 3 months ago

If they were not subsidized by their parents and had to pay going rates for downtown property this grocery would fail just like the one we taxpayers paid Placemakers to study in Portland failed. I'll be surprised if it lasts two years and they will be asking for City guaranteed loans and free fire sprinklers.

pip2006 7 years, 3 months ago

Kbelot-- They are not ensuring that the needs of all lawrencians are met. They do not sell meat. I am all for healthy lifestyle however I do require meat. A statement as you posted is not true to all lawrencians.
Sigmund-- I agree with you, but you are gracious with your timeline. Depends on how much daddy wants to cover

kansasinsf 7 years, 3 months ago

I am so glad to see a place like this open on Mass street. I lived near downtown Lawrence for two years, and was always disappointed there was no grocery store close by. In response to those who feel that local, organic food is too expensive, stop and think about all the damage that "cheap" supermarket food is doing to our health and our environment. Is your life and your planet really not worth a few extra dollars?

Danielle Brunin 7 years, 3 months ago

When we were in there a week or so ago, they had local tomatoes for 1.29/lb, which I thought was pretty good because at the Merc they are like $50/lb! (Of course I'm kidding. ) They smelled wonderful and didn't taste like tomato-scented plastic. They tasted like greenhouse tomatoes as opposed to summer tomatoes, but considering its January I'll take what I can get. I hope they are able to maintain it and compete with the Merc.

RedwoodCoast 7 years, 3 months ago

Sigmund sounds jealous. I'm not sure what is pretend about it. I'm know for a fact that there are many, many businesses out there that were handed to the proprietors by family members. It just happens to be some stupid hippies in this instance, right Sig? And wouldn't city sprinklers be a good idea? That property is connected to an entire block of other properties, which, if one property without sprinklers catches fire, might threaten the entire strip and the lives of our city firefighters who would have to deal with it.

tennyo 7 years, 3 months ago

I don't think that getting help from your parents is such a bad thing. Personally, I wouldn't think that they were very business savvy if they passed up a good deal (if they received one). I think that it will be interesting to have a grocery store Downtown. I don't live anywhere near there, but I am always on the hunt for the freshest produce. I would shop at the Merc, but I just don't like the atmosphere there.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't see what the big deal is about getting parental assistance. So what? Even if they did get help from mom and dad, they are still going to be responsible for making their business successful. I applaud them for their efforts to bring new business to Lawrence.

Best of Luck!!!!

Brad Watson 7 years, 3 months ago

I think it's a great addition to the downtown! The Casbah has been a tradition for a long time, I remember working there years ago at one of the little restaurants. I wish the Millsteins the best! Eating healthy....THAT'S THE TICKET!

kansascrone 7 years, 3 months ago

stopped in for juice the other day. the girl behind the counter suggested a mixture of apple, carrot, beet and ginger. i was with my daughter who ordered it - enthusiastically! i thought - ok, i'm game. it was delicious. the tastiest thing i've had in a while. no kidding. can't wait to go back for lunch.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

This store is not necessarily in competition with The Merc. In fact some items may well be from the Merc deli. This is a natural food quick shop with organic smoothies etc.

Something to enjoy...

Sigmund 7 years, 3 months ago

Not jealous at all. It is going to be damn hard work to make a profit with grocery store on Mass, if the number of businesses and restaurants that have come and gone in Downtown and Mass over the last 10 years is any measure. Add the additional problems that much of your inventory is perishable, you don't have much parking, and you have limited store hours and it will be near impossible. How do you make a small fortune in the grocery business? Start with a large one.

Fire sprinklers are good but not every good idea is to be funded by taxpayers, especially when it benefits private corporate interests. Why don't we provide fire sprinklers to apartment complexes, wouldn't that save firefighter and civilian lives? Because they are private businesses, a private responsibility, and we expect them to use their private money not the public's checkbook.

If a downtown grocery is such a good idea, why did the taxpayers fund the Placemaker study for this "Family Business?" Why didn't this private business use private money to fund their own study? Why was the public checkbook used to provide corporate welfare to a private family owned business?

kbelot 7 years, 3 months ago

pip2006: I'm willing to bet most Lawrencians find themselves needing milk and bread and other household staples. Try thinking out of the box.

sigmund: Your bed time must be really relaxing. An enjoyable time for you to reflect on all the nice things you did with your day.

Is it really that hard to support something that is such an obvious positive for Lawrence?

Sigmund 7 years, 3 months ago

kbelot - My bedtime is none of your concern, but more on that later.

For your information I have "supported" this private business, like everyone else in this town, with my tax dollars. Some of us had hoped they would fix some streets, some sidewalks, work on the sewer here and there. Instead they gave the money away to a private family businesses. Guess they knew the right Kommissioners or something.

Although I didn't have much of a say on how my taxes were used, I do have some say on where I spend my after tax dollars. I think I'll spend it with a business that isn't being subsidised by the City of Lawrence, don't have the right coneections, or didn't contribute to the right Kommissioners. If you must know, it makes it easier to sleep at night.

volunteer 7 years, 3 months ago

Although I could not help chuckling at Sigmund's "priceless" post, I certainly wish these young people investing their time and energy the best of luck. Perhaps in trying to keep this worthwhile-souding business afloat, the granola crowd will join the carnivores in asking the various local taxing entities to stop raising taxes.

GretchenJP 7 years, 3 months ago

Sounds like a great place! I'd love to check it out.

Sigmund 7 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

localbird 7 years, 3 months ago

I don't understand why the connection between the store and the study is so direct. These people made the decision to open this store before this study was even conducted. As far as the sprinklers go..........it is to preserve the downtown history and has nothing to do with the store that currently resides in the building. Its sad that the same individuals are ALWAYS writing negatively.

busymom 7 years, 3 months ago

Okay, correct me if I'm wrong but isn't Dillons on Mass and 19th just 8 blocks from the start of downtown? That's just for the people boohooing no grocery stores were close to downtown.

I agree that this store isn't going to serve all of Lawrence, but it will serve the vegetarian community, which is growing. I myself need meat but if I'm ever downtown I may stop in the Casbah for a smoothie or something.

For the people complaining that it's family owned, big whoop, there are tons and should be more family owned businesses and I hope the store is a success.

lildos 7 years, 3 months ago

It is a niche store and it will most likely thrive at least for a while. People that are complaining need to just not buy anything at the store, instead of find reasons to complain about it. There are enough Hy Vees, Dillons, Wal Marts and this store is not fighting the big guys, they are looking for a niche.

I have a solution for the meat problem, someone needs to open a butcher shop close to the Casbah downtown. I know most KU international students would love it...

For those that don't like hippies, just be happy you don't live in Boulder (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69nIToQ24i4&feature=related)

Sigmund 7 years, 3 months ago

Wow! My VISA parody has been censored! Was it the pointing out that the Placemaker study cost taxpayers $250,000, that they pay $0 rent on a property downtown valued at $493,000 owned by a relative, or that Lawrence taxpayers paid $25,128.15 towards their fire sprinklers? Perhaps it was the characterization of them as "hippies" impressing their friends as being priceless? Maybe VISA contacted the LJW and claimed the ad was copyrighted material, those evil corporations acting all "corporationy" again. I guess I'll never know.

I too would wish them luck and jump on the "rah-rah" bandwagon, but with connections like these it doesn't appear that they need it. I'll save my enthusiasm and good wishes for business owners without such great friends at City Hall and who aren't lucky enough to have such generous parents.

7 years, 3 months ago

Sure is nice having a local/organic shop within 3 blocks of my home. I've been looking forward to this ever since speculation of a downtown grocery was mentioned almost 2 years ago! I've had some juice there and it was awesome. I'm going back for the produce and the take-out. KUDOS, CASBAH!

case 7 years, 3 months ago

they pay rent, sigmund. don't be silly goose.

case 7 years, 3 months ago

also, it's called a family business, what's your prob, bob?...i mean sigmund.

average 7 years, 3 months ago

Like some of the slumlords in this town don't pass down rental properties to their kids to get them started in the biz. Like the scions of Dolph Simons are the most competent and eligible people to run a newspaper or a cable system. Right.

deadanimals 7 years, 3 months ago

I love the Casbah market! We can walk there in 4minutes, and offers everything i need to make a meal! I Had a the pleasure of meeting and working with the owners, and they are nothing short of authentic, wonderful people! It is a family business, and there is nothing wrong with that! I think that adds to the experience and character of the store! I wish the Casbah loads of success~K It is really a fun place to do your shopping!

Sigmund 7 years, 3 months ago

case (Anonymous) says: "they pay rent, sigmund. don't be silly goose."

Sure they do and I bet it was a "arms length" negotiation to insure it was a fair and full market rent is charged.

case (Anonymous) as an after thought says: "also, it's called a family business, what's your prob, bob?:i mean sigmund."

Bob? LOL! What, you know one conservative in this town and he is named "Bob" and you think it must be me? I have nothing against family businesses, I have a problem with private businesses getting hand outs from the taxpayers. Am I the only one in town that is against corporate welfare paid of the taxpayers checkbook? HINT: Most "family businesses" are incorporated.

case 7 years, 3 months ago

i said bob because it rhymes with prob.

bob

deadanimals 7 years, 3 months ago

what handouts are you talking about, bob?

more_cowbell 7 years, 3 months ago

For those who feel a "cheesy poof" craving, you can go to the gas station/convenience stores on 9th (you can get smokes there, too);

For those who want meat, remember you'd still have to cook it--and if you want someone else to cook it for you there are plenty of places that offer meat dishes on Mass. St.;

For those who are griping that the parents own the building; sounds like the parents made a good investment in the first place--if they were a truly BIG and NATIONAL corporation (hmm, there's a store going in at 6th and Wakarusa) getting a special deal by sponging off city infrastructure, then I'd be more concerned.

And perhaps the aforementioned butcher shop could replace Last Call on New Hampshire ;-)

RedwoodCoast 7 years, 3 months ago

OK, Sig, and you have no problem with private corporations having the same rights as an individual in this country? They are private enterprises that constantly wreak the benefits of taxpayer dollars. Just look at the FDA and the pharm industry or at the White House and the fossil fuel industry. And this small grocery store makes you squirm? It seems to me that there may be a little more to your opinions than just what is done with taxpayer money.

I wish the Casbah well, as I think it is a worthy enterprise.

localbird 7 years, 3 months ago

Yo all local burger sells meat by the pound. SO......if the meat troubles you, or lack there of, check out local burger. It's great meat too and just a couple blocks from the Casbah.

meanbean101 7 years, 3 months ago

I support the Casbah as well, but we should still respect Sigmunds right to what he wants to say.I feel like everyone is ganging up on him.While we may not agree,let's have dialogue and actually take what eachother have to say into consideration instead of brushing it aside or automatically shooting it down.Sounds like he is just truly concerned about the communitys money.Is that such a bad thing?

localbird 7 years, 3 months ago

No, its not a bad thing. The concerns should be directed in the proper direction. These people have not spent any of the city's money. The study has nothing to do with these individuals. The sprinklers are intended to preserve the historical nature of these buildings, a single building lacking a sprinkler system endangers the entire area. Note the close proximity of the buildings.

George_Braziller 7 years, 3 months ago

It's eight blocks from the END of downtown. Cross the river and you are talking three or four miles through the congestion of 6th and the bridge to the nearest place to just buy an onion for your pot of stew.

"busymom (Anonymous) says: Okay, correct me if I'm wrong but isn't Dillons on Mass and 19th just 8 blocks from the start of downtown? That's just for the people boohooing no grocery stores were close to downtown."

Sigmund 7 years, 3 months ago

I have no problem with corporations of any type or size doing business, making a profit, paying their employees. None, nada. My "problem" is taking taxpayer dollars and giving them to one class of businesses (those that are politically connected, politically correct) to the determent of their competitors who pay taxes and are forced to fund their competitors.

If this article had been written about a wealthy downtown landlord getting a taxpayer paid for $250,000 market study and $25,000 upgrade to the fire sprinklers so he could open a 7-11 or QuickTrip on Mass, would you feel the same way? I would. I don't know what "wreak" the benefits of taxpayer dollars is, but if you meant "reap" the benefits of taxpayer dollars then it is really pretty simple. Taxpayer dollars are to be used for public projects not private projects. If your argument is "everyone does it, why shouldn't they" I reject it's premise and its conclusion. What other grocery store got these perks and even if there were it doesn't make it right.

Finally, as this article is about the Cash-bah here in Lawrence and not about Big Oil, George W. Bush, the FDA, the pharmaceutical industry, the War in Iraq, homeless veterans sleeping under bridges, 911, the Patriot Act, Homeland Security, or alien abductions and anal probes, I won't be drawn into those discussions. When I do post to an article that raises those important issues I will be happy to respond to your queries then.

Josh 7 years, 3 months ago

What do you all think about being able to order your groceries for pickup/delivery online? Would you use it? Convenient / Stupid / Whatever ??

GretchenJP 7 years, 3 months ago

Josh (Anonymous) says:

"What do you all think about being able to order your groceries for pickup/delivery online? Would you use it? Convenient / Stupid / Whatever ??"

Convenient

localbird 7 years, 3 months ago

Sigmund, These people have nothing to do with taxpayer dollars. Is there something that I am not properly explaining? Let me know if there is something that I can clear up for you.

Sigmund 7 years, 3 months ago

Josh (Anonymous) says: "What do you all think about being able to order your groceries for pickup/delivery online? Would you use it? Convenient / Stupid / Whatever ??"

Doesn't HyVee do that now? On days like today when it the weather is horrid I would pay extra to be able to call in my order and have it read for me as I head home from work. I would even tip the sacker if they put it in the trunk for me?

Sigmund 7 years, 3 months ago

localbird (Anonymous) says: "These people have nothing to do with taxpayer dollars. Is there something that I am not properly explaining? Let me know if there is something that I can clear up for you."

That is good to know! Be sure to tell the City of Lawrence to get their $250,000 fee to Placemakers and $25,000 to the Cashbah for fire sprinklers back. If I understand correctly we could use it as we are a little short of cash, bah. http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/feb... http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/oct...

meanbean101 7 years, 3 months ago

well, with all this excitement, I definitely have to try the Casbah now!You probaly should too Sigmund. If you think that's really where your tax dollars went, you might as well get your moneys worth.

wheat_harvest 7 years, 3 months ago

Sigmund, while I appreciate your conmments, it seems your concern is only valid if Casbah founders pushed for the Placemakers study. Using the results of such a study to improve the downtown enviroment seems like a keen use of resources. If anything, it's money well spent. It's only implementing good advice.

I recently visited the Casbah market and was very impressed. Healthy food, friendly service, and delicious patty's. Go Donkey.

Sigmund 7 years, 3 months ago

meanbean101 (Anonymous) says... "well, with all this excitement, I definitely have to try the Casbah now!You probaly should too Sigmund. If you think that's really where your tax dollars went, you might as well get your moneys worth."

I am a "foodie" and I will definitely will check it out when I am downtown, it has to be better than Los Merc. I won't shop there regularly as their selection appears is as limited as their parking, and I doubt that they will be passing the "savings" on to their customers as I suspect their lower volume means their prices will have to be higher.

Sigmund 7 years, 3 months ago

wheat_harvest (Anonymous) says: "Using the results of such a study to improve the downtown enviroment seems like a keen use of resources. If anything, it's money well spent. It's only implementing good advice."

You must have missed the part where the $250,000 Placemaker study failed to mentioned the fact that the Portland store had gone out of business years ago.

"The consultants pointed to a sizable public market in Portland, Maine - a city about the same size as Lawrence - as an example of how it could work here. But calls this week to Portland revealed that the Portland Public Market closed about two years ago." http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/feb...

Of course your idea and my idea of "good advice," "money well spent", and "keen use of resources" may simply differ from mine.

guzzy393939 7 years, 3 months ago

Great job to the organizers of the Casbah Market! I met them briefly and they seem like Great people! Keep it moving and just look forward! Good luck in this new year!!!!! I hope my business can help you out in the future!! I look forward to it!

wheat_harvest 7 years, 3 months ago

Sigmund, Your shifting from your original argument about appropriate use of tax payer dollars. The risks of business come out of their pockets, not your tax dollars. I'm merely pointing out there was no mis-use of tax-payer dollars in this circumstance, as you asserted in your earlier posts. As an unbiased observer, I hope this place makes it. It certainly adds value to my daily routine in and around downtown Lawrence. Plus, I'd rather keep my grocery-money in the local economy than sending it to Dillon's headquarters in Cincinatti, Ohio.

oneflewover 7 years, 3 months ago

Best of luck, unfortunately this place will not last long, 2 years, maybe 3 tops. I will take a look sometime but never truely shop in this hippie joint.

gabbo 7 years, 3 months ago

Ignore the trolls. Cass, Josh, and Casey: stop reading the blog. The people on here have never and will never take a chance of their own in business. I'm proud of each of you, and have been impressed by your store the two times I've stopped in this week for groceries.

gr 7 years, 3 months ago

"The profit margin on gorceries of any kind is just too thin and the place cannot and will not do the kind of volume necessary to create the required dollars."

Wow! Can you imagine three people deciding to go into business without counting the costs? That would be very foolish.

Or, do you suppose they have already thought of those things and have a plan?


I am surprised at all the comments about no meat. It gives the impression there aren't many on this forum who believe the hype about global warming.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 3 months ago

snap writes:

marion giving advice on running a business in Lawrence, LOL!

angstew 7 years, 3 months ago

Congrats Josh, Cassie and Casey! it looks great! cheers! I'll be shopping there!

Compy 7 years, 3 months ago

I can't wait for this business to fail, not because I am jealous, or have something against vegetarians, but because I think it is horrible selfish to think you need a grocery store right down the block from your downtown apartment. This is not NYC, you may have to DRIVE once in awhile. If you are not capable of walking to dirty Dillon's, and unwilling to drive anywhere at all for groceries, you should live in West Lawrence or somewhere else. It is inefficient to truck supplies to a piddly store downtown to reach the 200 people who cant compromise living downtown with living in Kansas; this innefficiency is at the heart of the reason why this WILL NOT LAST with or without parents' help. It's wasteful, and despite the vegetarian organic slant, I find it ugly and selfish in a very American way.

They should stick to selling what they already know is profitable.

Matt Toplikar 7 years, 3 months ago

To all the petty pessimists: I can't say whether or not the Casbah will be a success. I don't pretend to know the future. All I can say is that when I was working and living in downtown Lawrence, I probably would have shopped there every day either before or after work.
I do think it's both cowardly and incredibly conceited to prophesize the fate of a brand new business that you haven't even been to yet. I find it a very revealing look into your personality. Dismissiveness of this kind only comes from those who need to bring others down to feel better about themselves. You're obviously smart people. Why do you feel like you have to prove it to everyone?

case 7 years, 3 months ago

my cats breath smells like cat food.

ThatGirl2 7 years, 3 months ago

Compy (Anonymous) says:

I can't wait for this business to fail, not because I am jealous, or have something against vegetarians, but because I think it is horrible selfish to think you need a grocery store right down the block from your downtown apartment. This is not NYC, you may have to DRIVE once in awhile. If you are not capable of walking to dirty Dillon's, and unwilling to drive anywhere at all for groceries, you should live in West Lawrence or somewhere else. It is inefficient to truck supplies to a piddly store downtown to reach the 200 people who cant compromise living downtown with living in Kansas; this innefficiency is at the heart of the reason why this will not last with or without parents' help. It's wasteful, and despite the vegetarian organic slant, I find it ugly and selfish in a very American way.

They should stick to selling what they already know is profitable.

This is the most ridiculous post I have ever read. What do you care what kind of business people chose to open in downtown Lawrence?? If this is of your concern, you clearly have way too much time on your hands. Personally, I think this is a lame attempt to cover up some contempt you have for personal reasons.

meanbean101 7 years, 3 months ago

Ok let's wrap this one up. Everyone needs to chill. Maybe meditate,take a bike ride,go to the Casbah and get a smoothie. Ease up a bit...

case 7 years, 3 months ago

i think you're right meanbean...i don't even have a cat, let alone one that has breath that smells like cat food...

Kathy Gates 7 years, 3 months ago

Well, now I feel better. People feel like they have the right to criticize downtown businesses just as much as they criticize 6th and Wak! Once again, if you don't like it, don't shop there. Otherwise--why do you care?

George_Braziller 7 years, 3 months ago

I agree completely!!!!!!!! No argument from me. I can't believe that there is this much negative pissing about a grocery store downtown. This is a really good thing folks.

busymom (Anonymous) says:

I think you just proved that North Lawrence needs a grocery store. Again that is because there used to be one.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 years, 3 months ago

The naysayers on this forum always purport to be capitalist, good right wing capitalist. But in reality they are large corporation capitalist. If it isn't a chain, they want nothing to do with it, and would happily see it fail. They are not entrepreneurs, like the people who started the corporations.

I, for one, will try to shop there often to help keep them in business, but even if they are in business for 20 years, the negatives on this forum will say it was just luck, or that they will fail any day, so please ignore them.

George_Washington_Hayduke 7 years, 3 months ago

Eating healthy and being conscientious of what goes into your body is a good thing and the more opportunities Lawrenceons have to aid in achieving a healthy life, the better. I will support this venture all I can not just because I believe they are offering a "comparative" economic value, but rather because I value their intent and the direction (at the local scale) the Casbah is helping to push America.

Sigmund 7 years, 3 months ago

gabbo (Anonymous) says: "Ignore the trolls. Cass, Josh, and Casey: stop reading the blog."

Great idea. However had my VISA parody post deleted was a little thin skinned. Nothing gets my interest in posting to a story as being censored.

Then gabbo (Anonymous) pretends to know something he cant possibly know:"The people on here have never and will never take a chance of their own in business."

Then gabbo (Anonymous) gushes ... I'm proud of each of you, and have been impressed by your store the two times I've stopped in this week for groceries"

How cute.

squidney 7 years, 3 months ago

Casey, Josh and Cassy have worked incredibly hard to get a grocery store up and runnin' in downtown Lawrence. To all of you who are griping about this and that, don't go! I, for one, would love to have a comfortable, organic, accessible, friendly-scaled store with a take out deli in downtown Kansas City. So, I say, Millsteins...please open another market close to my front door!

Frederic Gutknecht IV 7 years, 3 months ago

Wow. What a bizarre thread!~) It's Friday, so we should keep it going! I like the store because people who go to the store and like the people who own the store use lots of exclamation points!~) I do smell cat breath, though, and that stinks! Even though it is obviously vegan cat breath, it is from a CAT! I suspect that this cat is murdering innocent creatures to subsidize it's diet and craving for death! Millions of birds are killed by cats every year! Owls are eating cats! Stop warming your globes! We must stick together and stick it to the man eating corporations that contribute to the economic lifeblood of the bood sucking nutrient poor new world order over the phone today! Jeepers. What's all the fuss? It's me, isn't it? No? Dang. I'm out of here...but only because I must go... shop there! I will live and sprinkle there! I will be there and be their aloha! Go team! Rah! Rah! Casbah! ...or not...

gr 7 years, 3 months ago

overplayedhistory: "Non of them chop down acres of forest. Think of all the oxygen that is produced to grow the grain to feed them. "

I believe it would be the same amount of oxygen if people ate the grain. But, You're right, it could be less, much less, since it would take less to feed people. I guess I hit a sore spot of someone who has a "lack of self denial and moderation"!

Calculate how much fuel and resources it takes to grow a pound of grain. Then, calculate how much fuel and resources it takes to grow a pound of meat. Hint: Once you calculate it for a pound of grain, all you have to do is calculate how many pounds of grain it takes to grow a pound of meat. Then multiply it out.

For extra bonus credit, calculate how much oxygen an acre of trees produces compared to an acre of grass.

"I wish liberals would quit using global warming as reason to argue against using fossil fuels."
You do make a point there. If it was only to demonstrate that you didn't understand what I said.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 years, 3 months ago

gr ok, that's too much math for me today. I've had a long week!

guzzy393939 7 years, 3 months ago

Lets talk about another starter business in town that is going to grow and be awesome like the Casbah Market. Pieroguys Pierogies LLC! They rock and their pierogies are delicious. It's all about the new ideas... Good luck to both!!

TommyOGara 7 years, 3 months ago

I think Sigmund has been eating the wrong food.

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