Editorial: Doing downtown better
April 14, 2010
One of the many benefits of winter's slow eviction and the emergence of nicer weather is that it helps better reveal some of our town's attributes.
One such attribute, Editorial Board members noticed during the weekend, is our community's downtown district.
Downtown, board members contend, looks much better than it used to. When stopping for a moment, one can appreciate the variety of stores offered, the pleasing look of many of them, and the serene and green presence of Alice Pleasant Park.
At a time in our country when downtowns composed of small businesses are dying away in small communities, Craig is lucky to have a retail district as it does. There is an alternative for our consumers to the trappings of big-box stores like Kmart and Wal-Mart.
Not every community can say the same thing.
That good fortune hasn't escaped the Editorial Board.
But neither has the fact that as good as downtown and its stores are, the district in general and businesses specifically could be that much better.
It's been a common criticism among several Editorial Boards, as well as many local shoppers, that downtown businesses don't exactly keep customer-friendly hours. Finding one open at 5 p.m., when most residents are getting off work, is sometimes difficult. Finding stores open on the weekend, or on holidays, also can be daunting.
So without the alternative of shopping downtown when they're off work, shoppers take the more convenient route and hit the corporate chain stores.
And who could blame shoppers for it? After all, it's not the consumer's job to be available when stores are, and any belief to the contrary is a prime example of bad business practices.
To Editorial Board members, it seems a more reasonable, customer-friendly management at several downtown stores would result in better business for those stores, additional options for local consumers, more sales tax and ideally, a better downtown for the community.
However, this suggestion for more practical hours geared toward customers has been made before, and store-owners and managers have done little to respond.
Perhaps another nudge in that direction, this time piggy-backed onto a national recession making sales harder to come by, is enough to convince them change is in their best interest.