SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Jewelry Store Initiative Is Dead Wrong
By Zig Ziegler


August 31, 2007
Friday PM

Dear Editor:

The jewelry store initiative is dead wrong. Here are the reasons why:

1) The underlying message this conveys is that Ketchikan is not open for business. It may be open for certain businesses, but the criteria can change randomly. This idea kills initiative and creativity. What other community in the United States stipulates this kind of thing? Does Seattle limit Starbucks? Does New York City limit sales of the Stature of Liberty? Think about it.

2) Ketchikan's economy is significantly dependent on tourism. As a community, we don't make money from tourism unless we provide venues that allow visitors to spend. We then make our money through goods, services, employment, sales and property taxes. The current visitor trade has allowed this community to keep our property taxes low, while providing for a quality of life that most communities our size and larger envy. Our downtown (which won't change even if this initiative passes) has bee substantially upgraded over the past 12-15 years. This wouldn't have happened without visitors shopping here.

3) The marketplace should dictate which businesses succeed or fail. The public votes with their wallet every day. For this community to "plan" which legitimate businesses go where is a downward spiral. Who becomes the judge of this scenario? Who determines which businesses go where and whether there is "not enough of that or too much this"? If we start mandating certain locations for certain businesses, do we mandate that the locals shop there, guaranteeing some sort of success? Do business property owners receive investment credits for rent reductions? Are they forced to renovate a certain way, regardless of cost or return (or lace thereof) on their investment?

4) Each individual, whether local or visitor should have the right to pick and choose wherever he or she wants to shop and what for. While you man not want to shop for jewelry, I may. Why should you deny me the opportunity?

5) There are plenty of locations for new business enterprises to locate. I am in the real estate business. I have not recognized a huge demand for year 'round business startups, but the space is there should that demand arise. I have not been contacted by anyone associated with or in favor of this initiative to obtain information regarding space available for lease or purchase. Where is the interest in satisfying the demand for a return to "back in the day"?

6) The visitor market is different from the local market. It's true, visitors shop for different things than locals do. Should we sacrifice what 1,000,000 visitors shop for and cater to the 15,000 people who live here? When the pulp mill and logging were our mainstays we catered to them with 21 hour/day bars, topless dancing, 24 hours restaurants, and early on, prostitution. Are those the glory days we are seeking with this initiative?

7) Many things have changed since Ketchikan became a tourist destination. The local economy no longer has a timber industry with 600 year 'round jobs with a pulp mill and sawmill operating around the clock. The logging industry and its seasonal impact of transient labor is gone. The fishing industry has evolved and one of our larger canneries is gone. The internet along with improved freight service has eliminated the opportunity for some of the local business that have gone away. Wal-Mart eliminated some others. Jewelry stores were not responsible for any of that. All they did was step into a marketplace that has supported their existence, and as a result of their success, supported the local economy when other things were not.

8) We are blessed to have a vibrant visitor industry and business owners will to put time and money towards providing goods and services for it. All of the business owners pay sales taxes, rent or property taxes, employ local citizens and make Ketchikan the successful place it is. Why jeopardize a formula that works? My fear should be everyone's concern: What's next if this passes? Charter boats? T-shirt shops? Art stores? Native art? Coffee shops? Flaggers? At what point does planning and zoning not work and someone's disgruntlement with one too many dump trucks on the road cause this type of initiative restricting someone else's right to free enterprise?

9) Instead of an initiative limiting successful business ventures, why not create a local venture capital fund that could be used for local business startups. The cost of going into business can be staggering. Perhaps some of the supporters of this initiative could propose some local funding for their year 'round business goals. I would jump on board that wagon. I would much rather see this community support new business instead of restricting it.

Please take time to consider what this initiative does to our community. VOTE. This is an issue that is much too important to ignore. Every individual that resides in this community benefits for the visitor industry. Every one of us. There is ample opportunity for anyone to enter into a business that caters in some way to this industry or to locals or both. There is ample space available as well. If you don't want to shop for jewelry, don't. But don't prevent others if they so choose. Let the people vote with their wallets and have the community reap the rewards.

Funny, that's how America was founded and has found continued success.


Zig Ziegler
Ketchikan, AK


Received August 29, 2007 - Published August 31, 2007

About: " 56 year resident, borker of Alliance Realty, owner of Newtown property."


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