John Fielder: Big boxes mar our sense of place |

John Fielder: Big boxes mar our sense of place

John Fielder

It’s all about our sense of place and image. We are an image-driven world. The long-term economic health of Summit County and other Colorado – and for that matter Western, resort and tourism/recreation dependent communities – is compromised by big box stores. Our place is mountains and flowers and waterfalls and blue skies. Big box stores aesthetically are the antithesis of such a place. Communities that offer unique retail opportunities create an image that distinguish themselves from one another and provide visitors relief from the urban places from which they come. Unique shops decorated with flower boxes on main street complement our place. Yes, we locals will probably pay somewhat higher prices from locally owned business. However, that amount is multiples less than what we collectively gain in revenues created by community place and image.

The myriad local festivals and special events are remarkable draws that define our place, just as community support of, and investment in, local retail shops and restaurants define our place. They offer products and food unique to those in big box stores. I’ll never forget my two-week autumn drive through the European Alps in 2005 … stopping each day to pick up a local cheese, salami, bread, and wine from family-owned stores before our day hikes, and later dinner and souvenirs from local shops. Big box stores are gross, and remind us of the monotonous, boring design of the retail environment cities, where everything repeats itself every five miles with the same mix of chain stores. Suck it up, locals and elected officials. Resist the temptation of short-term gain through lower prices and theoretical job creation and have the vision to build communities that have an image consistent with our most natural of places.

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