A little more than a month ago, businesses in downtown Sanford were reeling. The media became consumed by the city's handling of the Trayvon Martin case, national civil rights leaders were coming to town to hold rallies and the city was battling a reputation as an enclave of provincial politics and segregation.
For a few weeks, businesses were reporting a severe drop in foot traffic, cancelled reservations and decreased revenues. Bloggers were spreading the word that people were planning to take their outrage at police and elected officials out on the city by calling for a boycott of the city's businesses.
Today's newsletter from Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe, a German restaurant and beer hall that's been operating on Sanford's main drag since 2001, indicates that things might be calming down for the businesses on First Street. Below is the greeting from the newsletter – it's the first sign of optimism we've heard from Sanford in a while.
Hallo liebe Guests
It's been a challenging time since our last newsletter. Who would have thought our town of Sanford would be in the International Spotlight? We have been hosting the News Media from around the world now for past 6 weeks dealing with the Trayvon Martin case. Our town is dealing with this issue as best as we can. Initially people thought it might be inconvenient or unsafe to visit our town because of events going on here. I am proud to report that all the rallies and demonstrations have been peaceful and continue to be so. Most of them do not even occur on 1st street. We have had no parking or safety issues. I have been interviewed numerous times and my message is and will be that we are good people here in Sanford, who work hard, and want to have a better life for ourselves , our families and our community and that we will gladly accept any help that will make our community better.
Thank you so much to you our Guests, you heard my call asking to support the businesses and people who work here. We had a record breaking week just before Easter because of you. Thanks to all the new Guests who found out about us and made the trip.