"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Business does not thrive by chance

Someone commmented my  reference to North Bay was from thirty years.ago. You will notice as you grow older how fast the years run into each other. North Bay may have changed.

It's been some years since indoor malls have stopped being built. Many towns never had a mall.

I drive to Collingaood  a few weeks ago. Passed through  many towns on, the way. Main Streets are as they always were with chains  and privately operated business side by side.

Picton  for one. I  always look for the local bakery. In my seaside home town,there were more bakeries, sweetie shops , Italian ice cream parlours and fish and chip shops than anything else.

But the story I remember from North Bay was , how a privately operated  dress shop differed
from  a mall chain store.

First the store owner-operator knew. her customers personally. When she went to the seasonal and annual wholesale shows, she shopped for her customers. And when the shipment arrived  customers would receive a call from the dress shop telling them ; "I have something that is you"

I don't know if that was true of every store. But it certinly sounds plausible and N extraordinary level of service. No mall chain store buyer could compete with that.

But indoor malls  haven't been the norm for some years. Can't say I've noticed how many exactly.
Certainly Canada Mall had it's ups and downs , and many changes. It put the kibosh on many small
business in Aurora. Shopping in the mal was n expedition for the family. It also proved too expensive  for  store operators and the crowds in the heat if summer or depth of winter were not necessarily
shoppers.I have heard of business allowed to stay though they couldn't pay the rent because the mall couldn't afford to have empty stores.

That's plausible too.

But things change even in small towns as so many people younger than I are fond of telling me.

Gas and  car insurance costs are heavy. Condominiums outpace single family homes. Families
are smaller or non-existent.

For forty  years, the town has known, downtown would  recover unless  people returned to live in the centre of things.

It has been happening for the past fifteen years. North and south of the centre block.Dozens of new business  thriving in new buildings  built to blend .And done so well it's my hard to tell.

Some  have not succeeded . Maybe because they did not study the market. Or didn't have enough financialbacking to see them through.We also know operating a smal business has never been easy at any time. They need all the help the town can provide.

We spend enough.  But I am not convinced we spend it well. I  don't believe the strategic plan is helpful. The  Promenade Study ,while proposing  millions in spending proposes also propose controls
that  could only be conceived by politicians made mad by power.

A  town department's function is described  as "retention and expansion "

I tell you ,without a hint of a lie, I have never seen  any effort whatsoever in that direction.

Unless of course we are talking about spending millions on real estate for a crazy heritage theme park
Or millions more in a giveaway to establish  a university satellite within our midst.

Like all we need to do is throw money at these things and something is bound to happen.


Anonymous said...

Those stores and restaurants that have survived for years in Aurora have their clientele who remain loyal and shop when they are able to do so - not just as few times a year. And because the owners have services or merchandise that is needed. The one restaurant now changing hands has seen it through many councils by being cost-effective and darn-good. And by adding catering.
We all know which places can be relied upon. That has always been the case. I do know that succeeding councils have done nothing to help shop-owners except talk about great plans and spend money on more plans And some have even been guilty of " hitting up " the owners for donations for silent auctions for various events.

Anonymous said...

People may not want to hear this, but condo developing helps the smaller shops on main streets. Just take a look at down town Toronto. Condo living is usually car free, and residents rely on public transportation and small shops within walking distance. The shops at our core will need to cater to those potential customers. The growth of those Malls have hurt our local shops and our down town core, but they will revive again; it’ll just take a little bit more time. And for those who don’t want to look at the past…remember…history likes to repeat itself.

Anonymous said...

The hair-dresser place I wandered into after moving to Aurora is still there. Ownership has changed twice but the staff are much the same. That suits me although the rising cost makes it a bit less of a treat. I realize the state of the economy and probably leave gratuities to reflect the reality.

Anonymous said...

Who does not want to hear that the condos will help the downtown core ? It is obvious.
But we have a small group of ditherers on council who will argue every inch of a developer's plans. Last term there was a point-blank refusal to go above a certain height. Some of those same folk remain. This term the stumbling blocks change with the project. Sometimes there is a rant about how much space a car needs to turn in a lot. Mostly it is nonsense playing to an audience while projects wait.....and wait.

Anonymous said...

I think that those ditherers are putting on a theatrical performance to the electorate. All condo developers will be approved whether council approves or not, especially if they throw in some affordable housing units. Count on it. The Towns and Region are depending on their development money. OMB hearings have been and continue to be futile, and have cost Towns millions of tax payer S knowing the inevitable. A comment was made on another thread about future population targets. They were correct. If those population targets are accurate, everyone will depend on these developments.

Anonymous said...

But the same individuals wasted time throughout the term on will-of-the wisps that could not be won. From trees that were " untouchable " due to mislabelling to trying to hi-jack an entire neighbourhood to fussing over light, sound and salt pollution. We had it all so that nothing constructive got accomplished.
As the term is winding down. Clr Gaertner is still intoning " We have to tell the people what they can and cannot do. "

Anonymous said...

It takes courage to be a councillor, and most on our council don’t have any. I’m sure that they get all sorts of crazy and unreasonable requests, and instead of just saying NO…to some of these requests for fear of electorate backlash or some other political backlash, they entertain all these crazy requests or projects to the cost of $ millions and nothing gets done. That’s why it’s really important to find out now what these batch of candidates value and if they have the courage to do what is best for all businesses and residents and not bow to those who have this sense of entitlement.

Anonymous said...

10:29, how do you expect anything to 'get done?' If they all 'just say NO' then, of course, "nothing gets done."

Saying NO is easy, it takes more to say YES.

Anonymous said...

At least we did not spend money on the Fab Lab concept although it meant nothing got done with that site. Both " sides " have to take responsibility there, one for refusing to do anything & the other for proposing what even those making the presentation could not guarantee.

Anonymous said...

That was not my comment but it does seem that, since nothing much new was accomplished, the semantics make no difference.

Anonymous said...

13:15- Oh...They have been saying YES to a whole slew of "investments"
this term. It's cost us millions, and there will be no mystery what our taxes will look like to maintain them. Shameful.