For Bob Bayers, leaving the 9/11 Tribute Concert behind is a bit of an economic necessity.
As he tries to adapt his 90-year-old hardware store to competition from a soon-to-arrive competitior store in the neighborhood, he said he needs all the time he can get.
"I just can't do it at age 60," he said. "I can't do that and make sure of my livelihood. I can't do both."
Bayers started he concert, held in the Lake Harriet Band Shell, in 2002 to memorialize the 2,977 people who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"It was the right thing to do," he said, describing how friends—and the thought of the nearly 3,000 victims—encouraged him to produce the concerts.
Recently, the owners of Settergren's Hardware store, another much-loved stalwart of the local business community, announced they were opening a new location a few storefronts away from Bayers. The two family-owned businesses tried to reach a compromise where the two could co-exist, or possibly merge, but last month those talks broke down. While reports suggested an amicable, "agree-to-disagree" conclusion to the talks, Bayers felt his business could suffer, and decided to diversify.
He hit upon the idea of offering groceries and other products in addition to his regular offerings, and since early August has been asking customers about what they would like to see.
"Ever since the pharmacy closed [in Linden Hills] and Tom Thumb moved out, we've been out of luck," said Donna Mayot, one of Bayers' customers.
Other customers have suggested Bayers stock beer- and wine-making kits, along with more typical corner-store fare like milk and tampons. Making sure the expanded store turns a profit will sap his time, Bayers said.
When he announced his decision to step back from his role organizing the popular memorial concert, Bayers said three members of the concert's volunteer orchestra and choir quickly stepped forward to take up the flag. They're forming the nucleus of a community committee that will, hopefully, produce the tribute concert in the future.
“[It’s] a relief to know I’ve done well,” Bayers said, “and that the community is ready to take the ball and run with it.”
If you are interested in helping plan the 2012 concert, contact Bob Bayers here.