SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Diversify downtown Ketchikan
By Matthew Woolsey


August 13, 2007
Monday PM

The days of a true free market economy have been gone since the Rockefeller Era. Capitalism in its purist was proved to be good in theory but poor in action. This is why our economy has morphed into the well-regulated market of present day. If you have any doubt this is true you need only look at anti-monopoly laws to be convinced. If that doesn't do it than consider how many pornography stores or bars there might be if local government did not regulate their placement. Hopefully your vision is getting clearer, sometimes regulations must be passed for the good of the community.

Though I draw no comparisons between a pornography store and a jewelry store, I do feel regulation should be placed on both. Pornography stores should be regulated for the obvious moral reasons, jewelry stores are a little more complicated, maybe this story can help explain.

My Mother-in-law recently opened a clothing store in downtown Ketchikan. This dream of hers may never have come to fruition if it were not for a generous building owner. A man whose sympathies for local business and sense of civic duty overcame his greed to convince him that renting to a local non-jewelry shop for less would hurt his wallet, but help his community. If it were not for this man my Mother-in-law may not own her own business today and many Ketchikanians would continue relying on the other two (if you count Wal-Mart) clothing stores for variety. On top of that my Wife would continue to complain to me every time a girl walked by with the same outfit on.

Then there are the tourist to think of. If I went to a restaurant and the menu consisted of chicken breast cooked 44 different ways it wouldn't matter that there were 44 options they are all still chicken breast and I'm a steak man. Needless to say I would not be returning to this restaurant (unless I was after some good chicken breast) and I would certainly not recommend this establishment to a friend. Well if you have not guessed it yet chicken breast is jewelry stores in this analogy, and Ketchikan role is played by the restaurant, I took on the position of your average tourist. I have a feeling this analogy needs no explanation but if it does you need only stand on a downtown street corner for 10 minutes until you hear Joe Smith turn to his wife Jane and ask "Is there anything other than jewelry stores in Ketchikan?" It sometimes appears not Mr. Smith.

Many business owners have stepped forward against the recent initiative to regulate jewelry store placement, many of whom happen to own buildings downtown and realize $3500 for 300 square feet may seem a little excessive to anyone other than a jewelry shop. Still others believe that true unregulated capitalism is being practiced. Then there are those who say tourism saved Ketchikan and we should not chase it away, this I do not disagree with, but for these people I have a question. When did tourism start needing jewelry stores to thrive?

Finally there are those who say that if jewelry stores weren't liked by the tourists then they wouldn't be here. My rebuttal to this is really just basic math. On average 6-8,000 visitors come to Ketchikan each day, there are roughly 40 jewelry stores, all it takes are 30 people to purchase a product that is usually marked up 200-300% for each store to turn a profit that day. That mean 1,200 people found something they probably didn't want but got talked into buying, while the other 6,800 go home wondering why they went on a tour of Alaska.

Please support local business and support legislation to diversify downtown Ketchikan, a stagnant market with little variety cannot last long.

Matthew Woolsey
Ketchikan, AK

Received August 13, 2007 - Published August 13, 2007

About: " Brought to Ketchikan by Coast Guard, married local girl and works and is proud to be part of the City of Ketchikan."

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