Some residents of Bon Air have little goodwill for a potential new thrift shop.
The Chesterfield neighborhood known for its Victorian homes and history as a railroad resort destination has a petition circulating to stop a Goodwill store from coming to the Stony Point Shopping Center at Buford and Huguenot roads.
“The Bon Air community needs to consider the importance of maintaining the integrity of our neighborhood ambiance,” reads the online petition. “Over the last few years, many residents have seen the slow decline of shopping/retail at the Midlothian end of Buford Road. PLEASE, let's not allow the same thing to happen at the Hugenot [sic] Road end.”
The petition, started a week ago by Hope King, has 710 signatures as of this writing. It seeks 1,000 before it goes to Next Realty, based in Skokie, IL, the owner of the shopping center.
Reached by phone on Thursday, Andrew Hochberg of Next Realty hadn’t heard of the petition yet and asked to see it, but he did not return a request for comment.
Andrea Butler, Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia’s director of development, called the petition “disappointing,” noting that Goodwill “Depot,” as labeled in the petition, was not a type of Goodwill location.
“It’s our understanding that we’re one of several prospective tenants,” she said. “We would hope people would do their homework.”
Butler added that last year Goodwill served 18,000 individuals who have challenges getting employment, helping them get the skills and education they need to be employed.
Most signees to the petition want a grocery store in the space, which was once occupied by a Martin’s and is inside Richmond city limits.
“We had a grocery store there, and we want one to replace it. Bon Air deserves it!” writes Scott Broaddus.
“We really empathize that the community has lost a grocery store, so we hope that they and the landlord will exhaust all possibilities,” Butler says.
“I believe that Goodwill would actually drive away the clientele that frequents the other shops, causing the shops to leave and creating more vacancy than already exists,” writes Benjamin Hester on the petition.
Many commenters note the existence of nearby Goodwill locations, the closest of which is four miles away. Aldi and Walmart Supercenter are two miles down the road from Stony Point.
“Do not want the people that [Goodwill] would attract,” writes Debnie Stephens.
A few signatories signed in order to show their displeasure with the petition.
“I'm signing this petition to point out your overwhelming pretentiousness to preserve your community's image over helping those in need,” writes Erik Lazzaro of Brookline, Mass. “As a community that has a considerable amount of places of worships per capita, you should be ashamed of yourselves for creating/signing this petition. If you are unintelligent enough to assume that Next Realty has your best interests at heart and not their own pockets, you are sadly mistaken.”