Many thanks for the recent editorials urging all to support our local businesses. Indeed, Smith’s Marketplace offers a beautiful place for “one-stop” shopping. Enjoy coffee and a bagel in the morning, a made to order dinner in the evening with a delicious selection of chocolate, ice-cream and cake for dessert. Afterwards, shop from an impressive selection of gourmet and organic foods, clothes, toys, pet supplies, electronics, and household goods. Keep people from driving to Santa Fe? How about keep people from driving down to our local restaurants, CB FOX, Metzgers, Pet Pangaea and the Co-op? This will be the “Wal-Mart” effect on Main Street.
Study after study show that when Wal-Mart moves in, small businesses close their doors, unable to compete with big retail’s buying power. According to a landmark study by Loyola University, within two years of Walmart’s opening its doors, 82 local stores went out of business. Instead of growing a town’s retail economy, Walmart overtakes it. Mom and Pop stores experience a 10 percent to 40 percent decline in sales after a Walmart opens and businesses within one mile of a Walmart Supercenter have a 25 percent chance of shutting down in the first year, a 40 percent chance by the second year.
Every small business must seriously evaluate their business model in order to survive. They must study the Marketplace, and redesign their inventories accordingly. They need to complement the Marketplace, filling in the missing gaps. Restaurants must expand their operating hours and set themselves them apart through customer service and specialty foods. Our Mom and Pops must offer something unique and personalized to keep from shutting down.
Further, the County must take specific actions to support the entire business community. I have personally urged members of the County Council to survey every small business, asking: “What are your concerns? What would most help your business grow?” Please, no unnecessary obstacles and excessive regulatory burdens!
Lastly, as Nancy Partridge, Don Krier and Kelly Gallagher pointed out, all citizens must make a concerted effort to support Main Street. Let’s regularly set aside days where we use our wonderful restaurants and shops. They are the pillars of our community! Only then will we have a successful, thriving, diverse business community, which includes Smith’s Marketplace.