Business Owners Talk Pros, Cons of Nashville’s Growth

Some local business owners say that walking down the streets of Nashville looks different than a few years ago.

Chris Cobb has owned EXIT/IN on Elliston Place since 2004. He said that Nashville has one of the best music communities in the world and running a business that gets to host so many shows is an honor.

One of the biggest changes he’s noticed about Nashville is who lives here now.

“When EXIT/IN opened in 1971 there were a lot of Vanderbilt students that were over here. We still see college students, but college students are not our main customers. We see a little older demographic, we see a lot of young professionals. That segment of the populous has definitely grown.”

Bob Bernstein, the owner of Fido, has been a business owner in Nashville since 1993. He says its more of a challenge for someone to start a business today.

“As this town grows, it’s been good for my pocketbook in most ways, but it’s becoming harder and harder for my way of life. My employees can’t live anywhere close to our restaurants they are moving further and further out.”

Cobb says that growth is a good thing for Nashville, but does believe there’s a negative side to it.

“I want to see Nashville hold on to the places, people, and things that make this city so great. As residents and business owners, I think that we have suffered most of the negatives that have come with the growth that have come with a city that has been really focused on tourism, maybe over being a great place to live but we can change that,” Cobb said.

Bernstein is concerned that Nashville is starting to look like every other city.

“You go up and down these cool neighborhoods in Hillsboro Village and 12 South. They are starting to get these same businesses you see everywhere, and what’s the excitement of that? We don’t need the same restaurant in every neighborhood. I’ve been very conscious about opening a business. Each one is different, and each neighborhood is different, so I try to reflect the neighborhood where we go,” says Bernstein

Both Cobb & Bernstein do agree that supporting local businesses will strengthen the Nashville community.

“Local business is what drives a city and gives it its character,” says Bernstein. “We spend a dollar locally it stays in the community when you spend a dollar at a national or international company, the profits go away.”

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