Imagine heading out for an evening on the town, as you've done many weekend nights. You park your car in a spot where you've parked for ages, but when you leave the restaurant or club ready to head home, your car isn't there. It hasn't been stolen; it's been towed.
This was reportedly the reality for more than nine people on March 6 as they hung out in Charlotte's Plaza Midwood neighborhood. (Six cars were booted on that night as well.)
As a result, people got mad, and then people got organized. Taking to the social media site Facebook, neighbors in Plaza Midwood launched a short, yet effective boycott of CVS Pharmacy, the business where cars were towed or booted that Saturday.
Facebookers set up a page titled "Boycott the CVS at Pecan & Central Ave" the Monday after the cars were towed and nearly 500 members had joined by the end of the week.
Also by the end of the week, without much media coverage or fanfare, CVS had agreed to allow patrons of restaurants and bars like Snug Harbor and Soul Gastrolounge to park in their lot after 10:30 p.m., according to the Facebook page.
Creative Loafing called the CVS store and manager Everett Swaim said he could not comment on the situation. CVS district manager Collen Seran didn't return a message about the towed cars. Mike DeAngelis, a spokesman for CVS, said, "Our policy is our lot is for our customers use."
DeAngelis said because of the growth in nightclubs in the area, the store manager had been in discussion with the club owners about problems in the lot, like trash.
And though an agreement has been reached, locally, DeAngelis reiterates that the parking lot is for CVS customers even after the store is closed.
Neighbors and businesses in Plaza Midwood hope to take a positive from this incident.
"Long term, we know that we're going to have parking issues," said Lesa Kastanas, who is the co-owner of Soul Gastrolounge with her husband Andy. "We don't want to have animosity in the neighborhood. But the main thing is we realized that the people who come to this neighborhood patronize all of these businesses. It's a park-and-walk neighborhood. We were grateful that CVS was willing to say 'we probably shouldn't have handled it that way and we want to be good neighbors.'"
Kastanas said business owners in Plaza Midwood are in the process of launching a group where issues like parking and zoning will be addressed, and CVS will be a part of it.
Wesley Johnson, who posted on Facebook in favor of boycotting the drugstore, said this was one way to rally people around parking issues in the community.
"People are angry and you kind of wanted to find out how many people were affected by it," he said. "I think they resolved the initial issue, which was safe parking for patrons going to Plaza Midwood, but a lot of us in the neighborhood haven't been paying attention to transportation and zoning issues. I just wanted to see what would happen if we organized."