Column: Revitalization takes all of us

There has been some effort on the part of individuals, businesses, The Downtown Merchants Association and the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce to encourage the revitalization of old downtown Kingman.

But if you take a trip down memory lane, if that's what you want to call old downtown Kingman, Beale Street and Andy Devine Avenue, you'll notice there is an inordinate amount of pawn shops, thrift shops and junk stores that some attempt to pass off as antique shops.

I know I might offend some for referring to these shops as junk stores, but I call it as I see it.

These types of businesses are not normally open on the weekends and don't attract tourists passing through Kingman on Old Route 66. And if you think about it, how many tourists want to stop by and spend their hard-earned money in a pawn shop or junk store?

Granted, I understand pawn shops have their purpose and that's to help out individuals who might be presently on the "downside of life" and need a few extra bucks to survive. However, there is also the seedy-side of the equation relating to pawn shops. These are the businesses where some individuals go to pawn the items they just stole from the house they broke into.

Granted, the pawn shops attempt to self-police the individuals who come into their establishments, and the local law enforcement attempt to monitor what is going through the front doors of the pawn shops. But no matter how much effort is put forth, some stolen goods do end up in the local pawn shops. I'm not saying that pawn shops are all that bad. I've spend a lot of money in the local pawn shops picking up bargains that people never came back to pay for and claim.

Just about every time I drive through old downtown on the weekends, very little of the businesses are open and many of the individuals I see on the streets there are transients and homeless people. If you pass through old downtown during the early morning hours, you'll see many of these transients sleeping on the sidewalks and alleys, hanging out in the local convenience store parking lot or taking advantage of the lush green grass in Locomotive and Charles Metcalfe parks.

I would think this isn't an image I would hope the city of Kingman, the businesses located there, the Chamber and the "economic development folks" want to advertise as occurring here. And I must agree there isn't an immediate timed-phased solution to the problem.

This is a problem our city officials need to address, and hopefully, correct. No, I'm not suggesting that we institute a "homeless vigilante force" to run these less-fortunate people out of town on the next train or bus that passes through. I'm just stating that they distract from the beauty of our town and could cause individuals to go somewhere else to shop.

As for the restaurants, small novelty and curio shops, in addition to the specialty businesses, they are refreshing to see and I encourage such businesses to relocate to the old downtown area. These are the types of businesses tourists want, will visit, and are a direct cause of an infusion of tourist-generated revenues.

The only thing is they need to start staying open on the weekends and evenings so the tourists will learn that a drive through old downtown has its advantages and that there are restaurants, quaint shops and businesses open so they can spend their hard-earned money here.

Additionally, the shops and businesses also need to start catering to our local residents. Give our local residents a reason to visit old downtown

My hat is off to the two food establishments that have recently chosen old downtown as their location, and I honestly hope they succeed at their endeavors. I recently had the opportunity to eat twice at one of those establishments on Beale Street and I thought the food was very good.

As for the other business, I didn't even know it had opened its doors until I stepped out of my truck the other day and started to walk into the restaurant across the street from it. Yes, the next time I head to old downtown for lunch, I'll take my chances and try the other place.

Maybe that is what I should become, "The Unknown Eater," and start writing reviews in the newspaper as to the service, quality and pricing of the various eateries that are located throughout Kingman and surrounding areas. I believe that many of our residents would love to know everything about a restaurant or cafe before "taking that plunge" to partake in the food at a particular place. The only problem I foresee if I did that is there are a lot of people who know me and it would be hard for me to just wander into a restaurant and be anonymous. Perhaps if I wore a large afro wig, a baseball cap, dark glasses, other disguises or pajamas and slippers as you see so many people wear while shopping in town, no one would recognize me.

I don't think there are any crystal balls or tea leaves that can be read in order to figure out what has to be done to revitalize the old downtown and other areas of Kingman. I don't think visiting a fortune teller or casting magic potions will help either.

What we have to do is give a vote of confidence to current elected officials, the Kingman and Mohave County planning and zoning departments and hope they will have the city and the county's best interest in mind.

Have they always done the right thing when making their recommendations and placing their stamps of approval on projects? Probably not. But at least they are attempting to make life better here for all of us and giving reasons for businesses to want to relocate to Kingman and the surrounding areas.

If we all work together for the good of the cause, the revitalization of old downtown Kingman and surrounding areas of northern Mohave County, then and only then can we be proud of our accomplishments, our progress and what is offered here.