Sam McCleneghan: Protectionism and capitalism don’t mix
I moved here in 1973. In those days you couldn’t buy footwear if it wasn’t a ski boot (or after-ski boot). The couple of grocery stores we had were more along the line of convenience stores by today’s yardstick. My wife and I did all our grocery shopping at King Soopers in Denver. The only stoplight in the county was up at the entrance to the Town of Dillon and it was just one of those blinking ones. I don’t think there were any fast-food chains, of any kind. And I’m a relative newcomer when thinking in terms of someone like Robin Theobald, whose family has been here three or four generations.
When I first started working at the Tannhauser Condominiums, you literally could have lain down and gone to sleep in the middle of Main St. during the summer. We had nothing but a partial winter economy. That was it.
As this county prospered and grew, the announcement that Safeway was coming to town, and City Market, practically caused all of us to run to the bars and celebrate. Auto dealerships, came, then the factory stores, fast food, Walmart, Target, movie theaters that weren’t in a Quonset hut – and the list goes on.
We grow and prosper. Do we really want protectionism? Did we want to protect Fox Center grocery from Safeway? I can tell you first hand that 99 percent of us wanted a real supermarket. We would have done anything to get one here. When it finally arrived, man, we were uptown! Now, everyone just takes it for granted.
Yes, some local businesses will suffer with a big competitor like Lowe’s. My buddies Bill and Gary, who own Napa Auto Parts, lose some battery and other auto accessory sales to Walmart, no doubt. But they’re good, sharp retailers and compete in ways Walmart can’t and won’t.
I consider Don Sather a friend, and it is understandable that he wants to protect his business. He has invested huge sums over many years. If I were in his shoes, I would probably do the exact same thing. But it’s like saying, “The County should only allow 50 real estate agents to practice here.” “Breckenridge can have only 10 restaurant licenses.” When I worked in Taos, New Mexico back in the late ’60s and early ’70s, that’s exactly what was going on with liquor licenses. The state only issued a certain number. If you had a liquor license for a bar, it was worth more that the real estate and business combined. Protectionism.
Two parting thoughts: Do you know the difference between a developer and a preservationist?
A developer wants a cabin in the woods.
A preservationist HAS a cabin in the woods.
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