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U Connections: It’s Just the Way it is

Reporting and photos by Alexia Zilliken

· Alexia Zilliken,Businesses,Maryland Parkway,Gentrification,Light Rail

Las Vegas, NV - Jack Katz, owner and operator of U Connections embroidery, has been in business since 1985 and has been run out of Runnin’ Rebel Plaza since 2008. Their first shop came into existence in 2002 and has been successfully operating for sixteen years. As the sewing machine runs in the background, Jack agrees to sit down and talk about the RTC Light Rail and just what kind of changes he’s seen on Maryland Parkway:

“It’s definitely gotten more crowded, gotten dirtier; more trash. I think the people who live here, that hang out in this area now…they just don’t care about the neighborhood.”

When asked if this group of people would be tied into an increase of homeless people in the area, Katz responded saying that he has actually seen fewer homeless people around. Even though his shop had been broken into and robbed a few times in the past, but Katz mainly felt as though there is no sense of pride in the community as there once was.

What bothered Katz most is that, “People don’t throw their trash in the dumpster, they throw it on the ground; they just don’t care.”

The last visit into the shop, the RTC Light Rail was brought up and was new knowledge to Mr. Katz. When asked now about whether or not he would like to see the Light Rail be built or to see that money be put towards improving crime or other issues in the community, Katz responded that he would rather have the light rail put in on Maryland Parkway.

“I think it would get more people to come here. If you get more people to come here, I think it would be natural that you’d have more cops, you’d have more supervision…Especially the businesses would care about what people are coming too,” said Katz.

Katz also felt that the Light Rail would be an improvement that could help bring in a better customer base for his business: customers with a larger disposable income versus that of students.

 

“You don’t have the money to come in here and buy five or six shirts at a time, but there are older people my age that do so, you have to get them to come here,” stated Katz.

Katz' store offers UNLV merch as well as custom print options. August, 2018, Las Vegas, NV. Photo by Alexia Zilliken

As far as construction impeding his route to work or his business, Katz is not worried about it stating that most of his business comes from college students who will still be able to walk across the street without a problem if they need to get a shirt. On the matter of potential gentrification, Katz stated that that is a tough question to answer:

“It’s just the way it is. I mean you would hope that people have a place to go but, people get pushed out you know? And you hope that there’s some place, another neighborhood for them to go to. But this neighborhood had taken it on the chin for a long time.”

Katz elaborated on this by stating that the reason for this is due to the people living here and how they, in essence, created the environment they live in.

U Connection sells fraternity and sorority shirts featuring the organization's embroidery. Photo by Alexia Zilliken

“I drive down Maryland Parkway on my way home and it can just be a shit-show…Like I said, with the trash, broken bottles…There’s no pride in the community…You can still clean up your front yard, you can still pick up the trash. You can make you house or your business or your property look presentable.”

Other popular items include: flasks, license plate covers, and other fraternity/sorority products. August, 2018, Las Vegas, NV. Photos by Alexia Zilliken

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