Untying Ramona’s Gordian Knot
By Robert Krysak
I am a hypocrite. Time after time I find myself driving down 67 to shop in Poway with a “Shop Ramona” sticker emblazoned on my car’s bumper. I often wonder if fellow shoppers chuckle as I pull into Home Depot, Costco or Walmart while I visibly chastise my neighbors to do that which I do not, shop in Ramona.
So I have asked myself, “why am I abandoning my neighbors and friends and not shopping in my town,” especially since the “Shop Ramona” cry has reached feverish and almost patriotic pitch, almost like “Remember the Alamo” (no, not the one that rents cars).
Perception is sometimes reality and my perception, supported in many cases by reality, is that shopping in Ramona is more expensive than shopping “down the hill” (illogically neglecting to consider the $4/gallon price of gas to get there) and the selection of products is limited. Is this a common perception? Is this perception the general reality?
Obviously, local “mom and pop” retail outlets cannot compete with the big box stores in terms of selection or price. The big box stores purchase volume goods cheaper and pass this reduced cost and greater selection to the consumer. I can do all my shopping in a two-mile radius in Poway just at four “big box” stores and get everything I need and many things I don’t need.
This is an age-old dilemma. How do local retailers compete with those evil big box stores that have the unmitigated gall to sell more goods cheaper. Simple answer. Sell what they do not sell, provide value and, most important, make the customers want to come back through exceptional service.
So who, in the end, is to blame for Ramona’s depressed business climate? Of course, the general downturn in the economy. When families have no money, they will not spend it. Secondly, the retailers who do not provide unique services and goods nor advertise the availability of these unique goods and services and, third, me, who thinks first of the convenience and cost and second about supporting the local retail community.
A global issue which needs to be considered is what Ramona wants to be when it grows up. The answer to this question will play a part in the types of businesses which light up the darkened recesses of abandoned storefronts in Ramona. Many believe the future is in antiques, wineries, restaurants and similar “tourist destination” outlets (this author amongst them). Others believe big box stores need to blossom in our town. Still others believe in blindness that there is nothing wrong.
The answer to Ramona’s retail future is a Gordian Knot which cannot be cut, but must be painstakingly
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