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.”
Now, 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.