Ordinarily, I try to write about things and people who affect business in the Austin area. Ordinarily, I try to give information on how to make a business more productive, but every now and then I have an opportunity to inform you about something or?”in this case someone?”extraordinary. The person of whom I speak is Mr. Michael Campbell. What makes Mr. Campbell noteworthy is his approach to doing business. He takes every negative connotation associated with African-Americans in business and simple blows it out of the water.
Campbell is a college-educated (Jackson State) African-American brother who is the co-owner of the Subway store that recently opened on the corner of Lake and Pulaski. Yes, I did say Lake and Pulaski. Upon entering, there were two beautiful, well-mannered young sisters who greeted me with: “Hello sir, can we help you?” The place was so clean that you could eat off the floor, and it was easy to communicate for the notable absence of half-inch-thick bullet-proof glass. While I waited, I could not help grooving as the radio played some old school R&B music.
In a time when most African-Americans are running away from our communities and some business owners feel that their services would be better appreciated elsewhere, my first question to Campbell was simply, “Why here?” With a smile, he answered, “Why not?” He then informed me that, prior to accepting the location, he had done his research, which included parking along Lake Street some mornings and evenings watching just how much pedestrian and car traffic passes through the area. Campbell observed that people, when given the opportunity, want to make healthier food choices but that in our communities the choices are often limited.
In the course of our conversation, Mr. Campbell informed me that he had known his business partner since the age of 12, showing by example that, with the right planning, you can do business with friends. He told me an old college buddy who owns four Subway stores in the state of Mississippi told him, “Man, you need to come down and see what I am doing,” and basically get in where you fit in, dispelling the myth that we are all “crabs in a barrel.”
It was also evident that family was high on the agenda when Campbell began to inform me that he needed to finish doing inventory because it was his turn to have the scheduled family gathering at his house that evening.
I’m glad I was able to talk to a brother who has chosen to dictate his own destiny and not get caught up in others’ misconceptions.
He is a testament to how important good African-American-owned and operated businesses are to the well-being of our community. I firmly believe that we have an obligation to not just support, but go out of our way to make sure that our businesses are well taken care of.
Let’s start by doing a few things: Make it a point to buy something from Mr. Campbell’s Subway soon and often. Tell at least two people about it, and make sure that when we are in the area, we stop and check on our brothers.