Buy Fresh, Buy Local

Perhaps it is just a coincidence, but over the weekend there were two stories that shared the “front page” of the internet version of the Herald — the coming closing of the Gelato Cafffe and that the big box stores out on Rib Mountain road had great day on “Black Friday.”

Gelato CaffeNow, there are always many reasons why a business has to close so it is hard to generalize from just one instance. In the case of the Gelato Caffe downtown construction and characteristics of the building where it is located were cited as factors. But still, I tend to see at least a slight connection between the two stories.

One connection is that the tilt toward the big money players is very real. One example that I have recently become aware of is over on Rib Mountain drive itself. It seems that the city fathers of Rib Mountain, in order to preserve the pristine beauty that is Rib Mountain Drive has a pretty strict sign ordinance. Yes, in order to protect the sensitive eyes of those driving to Wal-Mart, Rib Mountain cracks down on the little businesses along that strip when they try to put up a sign. You might remember that the Liberty Tax preparation business was fined for putting up a thing that was somewhere between an American flag and a kite to promote their business. Best Buy and Kohls manage nice big signs though.

But as much as the city fathers don’t help the situation, we have to look ourselves in the mirror and admit that we have seen the enemy and it is us. Well, OK, maybe not the readers of the Wauasublog in particular, but the public in general.

If Best Buy was full on “Black Friday” then we were the ones filling it. And if we were filling Best Buy, then the Gelato Caffe would have been empty. We can’t be in two places at once. Of course I am speaking in relative terms here. 🙂

Every time we shop at a chain store, we are taking money out of the Wausau area. This is absolutely true. Not only do the profits of your chain store purchase go to Chicago, Minneapolis or New York, but lots of overhead that would otherwise stay in this area. Chain stores make up their advertising copy elsewhere, don’t hire local architects (and often contractors!) and have a chain of regional, district and other managers who live elsewhere that you are paying for. All this so we can have cheap stuff from China. Such a deal!

This is not to say that all out of town goods are bad and that we should be totally provincial. That too stifles economic and cultural growth. There does have to be a balance. But a big part of that balance is shopping locally where possible.

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7 responses to “Buy Fresh, Buy Local

  1. The difference is that apparently Best Buy has a product the Wausau consumer wants.

  2. What is the difference between wants and needs, Best buy has you convinced that you need everything that they sell! I feel sorry for those who have been used in this way.

  3. Unfortunately it is not just Wausau, but pretty much everywhere. And not just Best Buy, but Wal-Mart and McDonalds too. But just because it runs downhill doesn’t mean we have to swim in it. 😉

  4. I agree, but you can’t force people to purchase a product they don’t want. I hardly ever shop the chain stores or eat in restaurants that aren’t locally owned.

  5. I went over the Gelato today for lunch. A lot of the menu, and what I was hungry for, was already crossed off the menu. There was a good stream of people coming in (by no means packed at all) and the service was very slow. The manager, I think his name is Mike, was quite rude. A lady said very nicely something to the effect of “I’m sorry you are closing”. Mike said snidely that he was going to “miss the paycheck” and that lots of people have been saying that but “where were they over the past year?” The lady responed that she thought they were closing because of the heating system and he said “that and many other things”. I do feel for the staff, but if this is how the manager acts uder stress, perhaps there is more to the story??

  6. I don’t think the demise of Gelato Caffe can be directly attributed to the growth of the big box stores at the edge of town. Coffee shops have come and gone downtown. In the last ten or so years I’ve seen shops like Seattle Coffee, Rockwater, Big Apple Bagel (not really a coffe shop, but they sold coffee), Whey cool and Somethings Brewing (come and go and come again). Its a tough market. Part of the problems may be attributed to location but Gelato Caffee most likely fell victim to an oversaturated coffee shop market. The Gelato was a great novelty (we frequented the place when we would bike downtown during the summer), but how many coffee shops can you have downtown?

    I’ll miss the Caffee when its gone, but I’m sure another shop will spring up to take its place.

  7. Can we add the downtown grocery link to the wausau links section?

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