Bragg Boulevard: A Love/Hate Relationship
I ﬁelded an interesting phone call at the ofﬁ ce this week. The caller didn’t leave his name, but based on our conversation I am conﬁdent that he owns a business on Bragg Boulevard. The caller asked why in the world we would have a category called “Best thing to Hide from Visitors” in our Best of Fayetteville edition when Up & Coming Weekly works so hard all year to promote small businesses and lift up the best in our community.
After he hung up I thought about it and I have to admit, condemning an entire street, one that is 15-miles long and a main thoroughfare in our community does seem a bit counter-productive to the mission of our publication.
Our publisher maintains that the Best of Fayetteville serves many purposes. It provides valuable information and insights into the Fayetteville community. Reporting with credence and credibility what is NOT the best in our community also lies within our mission and is valid, and I respect that.
It was our readers though, who voted and awarded this title to Bragg Boulevard. This is not the ﬁrst time that Bragg Boulevard has won this dubious distinction. In fact, it has held the title for a number of years. It makes me wonder if it has become such a tradition that people really don’t really think too hard about it when they see this space on the ballot. But maybe they do.
The caller pointed out to me that several of our Best of Fayetteville winners are located on this supposedly wretched road. He’s right.
Thai Pepper won Best Thai Food and they have a location on Bragg Boulevard that stays quite busy. MiCasita won Best Mexican/Best Burritos and they have a location on Bragg Boulevard, too, as does KFC who won Best Fried Chicken. M&M Leather and Custom Cycle is our readers’ choice for Best Leather Store, New and Nearly New Thrift Shop is the Best Place to Buy Used Furniture. Edward McKay won Best Used Book Store. They are all located on the boulevard.
The Trophy House, which is one of the Best of Fayetteville sponsors, calls this street home. The Renaissance European Day Spa won several categories, just like they have in years past. They took Best Day Spa/Nail Salon/Leg and Bikini Wax/Massage Therapist and Best Health Club/Gym. Where are they located? Right behind Eutaw Shopping Center, which is on, you guessed it, Bragg Boulevard. Perhaps one of the biggest contributors to our community in both dollars and population — Fort Bragg — has several gates on Bragg Boulevard.
The N.C. Veterans Park was voted Best Change to Fayetteville and rests on the downtown end of the Best Thing to Hide From Visitors, right next to the Airborne Special Operations Museum, which also won several categories in our Best of Fayetteville edition — Best Little Known Attraction/Best Thing to Show Out-of-Towners and Best Museum.
Did you miss that? The Best Thing to Show Out-of-Towners is on the street that won Best Thing to Hide from Visitors.
Our readers know what’s good in this town, they tell us every year and have proven to be right time after time. Why they voted this particular street a disgrace when it holds some of our best treasures is something I can’t answer. Does it have some establishments that are not family friendly and are even a bit shady? Yep. So do several other streets in town, and somehow they escape our reader’s scrutiny. Are the businesses that line the road aesthetically pleasing? Is it a place you would feel comfortable walking at night? We have to say no.
Could it be? Can Bragg Boulevard turn itself around the way downtown did a decade or so ago? Are the businesses that our reader’s love best organizing themselves and working together to change their corner of the world?
What I gleaned from this caller is that the business owners, maybe not all of them, but many of them, know this and are working every day to bring more and better goods and services to our community. They are trying to meet the needs of their customers, provide for their families and contribute to the community just like the businesses downtown, Sycamore Dairy Road, Raeford Road, Morganton Road, Reilly Road and all the other roads that are home to the thousands of small businesses in the community that play a part in making Fayetteville the All-America City that we call home.
They are succeeding in that aspect. But think about this: Maybe the boulevard gets this vote so often because our readers see so much potential here. They are willing to eat, shop, workout, get pampered and do business on this road, many of their favorite places are here — but there is still a lot of work to be done.