By Rich Elliott
January 31, 2006
The notion that the tourist industry ruined our downtown is absurd. Downtowns nationwide have gone through an evolving process the last thirty years. This evolution was caused by many factors, none of which have anything to do with tourism.
When towns begin, it is only natural for their retail and commercial interests to centralize at the core. But, as they grow, this core tends to congest. Issues such as parking and convenience come into play. That is why it is only natural for retail interests to eventually move. They end up doing so to answer the concerns of their customers. It enables them to provide their customers with variety, convenience and parking, which all lead to a more enjoyable shopping experience. It also helps them to keep from going broke.
As far back as the 60's, a man by the name of Paul Wingren recognized these concerns. That is why he headed to the west end with his grocery business. He didn't make this move then because tourism was forcing him into it. He made this move because it was a good business decision.
North Gate in Seattle was built in the 50's. South Center was constructed in the 60's. The mall concept arrived in Ketchikan in the 80's. Market Place, the Plaza, Family Village, Tatsuda's and Wal Mart were built and located where they are because it best suits their customers. They didn't locate there because they were driven out by the tourist industry.
The timber industry in Washington and Oregon has declined considerably over the last twenty years. Some of the small towns have never recovered. They did not have another industry such as tourism to fall back on. This, plus the arrival of the malls and Wal Mart, has left a lot of their downtown businesses boarded up permanently.
If anything, the influx of summer business has helped our downtown. It has allowed some businesses to remain open during the winter. Tongass is a good example of this. They are open seven days a week April through December and six days a week January through March. The reason they are able to do this is because of their summer business.
To say "Vote No" on the dock bond issue because some local retailers made the good business decision to move out of the downtown core and relocate on the west end is also absurd.
About: Rich Elliott was born
& raised in Ketchikan as was his father.
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.