By Ben Olson
Imagine for a moment what Sandpoint would be like without our downtown shopping district. Driving through other towns across the country, it’s hard to miss the fact that most of them look the same. There are chain stores, fast food restaurants, payday loan businesses. Mile after mile of parking lots and soulless buildings. Let’s just call it by its right name: sprawl.
We don’t have that here in Sandpoint. We have earnest, good-hearted locals and newcomers who have populated our historical downtown district with a wide variety of businesses. When you shop at stores downtown, you aren’t funding some corporate CEO’s latest yacht or funnelling money into the richest family in the world, you are helping locals send their children to college. You’re helping locals make their mortgage payments, get their car fixed when it craps out on that cold winter morning.
You’re helping a community remain a community. Because when you think of the alternative; chain stores littering the downtown corridor like ugly baubles on the necklace that once was a unique town, it doesn’t seem too great.
In the letters to the editor section of this paper and on Facebook local forums, I’ll often read about how some folks “refuse to come downtown anymore” because of the construction, parking, prices or some other reason. That’s fair, and that’s their choice, but why are these folks trying to influence others? Why can’t they just choose to spend their money elsewhere and let it be?
I, for one, am choosing to ignore those naysayers. I believe in our community and I support our local retailers.
So, as we get closer to the holiday season, I encourage you all to give our downtown shops a chance. If nothing else, just purchase one present from your list downtown. You are funding a community by doing so, and that is such a good thing.
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