Sometimes I wish I never started paying attention.
But that was the '80s, when shopping was a recreational activity; now, with layoffs and trends, downturns, factory outlet malls lay deserted all across America, and according to reports, sales have declined 28.4 per cent in the last year alone.
My question is, why are we reaching for an '80s solution if we're supposed to be a 2010 town?
Make no mistake, I hate big box. My hatred comes from the fact that ma and pa stores simply can't compete with someone selling the same things cheaper than local merchants can buy it from their supplier. However, I do appreciate working families that have no choice but to drive miles to Park Royal just because we don't have a department store or London Drugs.
That said, this rant isn't about the evils of Wal-Mart or far lesser evil Factory outlet. It's not about the district's newly-hired communications director sharing the same last name as the contact person for the outlet. Or the creation of minimum-wage jobs in a business park on the highway versus high-paying industrial park jobs hidden from the highway.
It's about the two views of Squamish. The classic one appears all but impossible to shake: we're the desperate town that doesn't seem to realize it's between the two richest communities in Canada, the McDonald's on the way to Whistler where any eyesore monstrosity is welcomed if it can get one in 100 people off the highway.
Then there's the view that I've had all along. The view that Squamish is already a remarkable destination and we don't need to trick people here with fast food and cheap shopping. We are blessed to live in a little bit of heaven, so why would you try to lure people here with a big paved hell? Big Box has already engulfed Surrey, Delta, Coquitlam, Burnaby, Abbotsford and all those other places you'd never want to live, so why bring it here?
We should be offering people a sanctuary away from all that big-box crap. People should have the opportunity to come from all over because we don't have a Wal-Mart or factory outlet, what we have is breathtaking beauty and natural surroundings that was never compromised for a fast buck.