By Steve Smith
In Traci Squyers editorial “Ramona’s small town essence,” she says it’s the big box stores like Target that cause “empty storefronts.” She seems to be trying to connect our empty storefronts with Target or even support for Target, even though we don’t have a Target.
Ramona’s empty stores have many reasons. Not one is because a Target is in Poway. The failed businesses in Ramona are caused by a number of things, under capitalized, poor location, not a viable product or service and lack of customers.
Lack of customers is one problem a Target and other major stores could help correct.
In a recent four-year study by Navigant Consulting, it was found that businesses around Walmart superstores actually did better than ones not near the large retailer. The reason was that competition was actually good for the local businesses and because of the influx of shoppers to the area. I believe that is one of the problems here in Ramona.
Whether you like it or not Ramona is a “pass through” town. People pass through going to Julian or the desert or on the way back. There really is nothing here other than getting gas or groceries that makes people want to stop. Sure, we have some antique stores and other shops of various kinds, but not the kind that make lots of people stop and spend money. Isn’t that what business owners want?
With some large retailer like Target, there is a reason to stop and shop. This lets people see what other businesses are here because they slow down.
Will some small businesses fail? Sure, but they fail every day and it isn’t because a Target sprang up next door.
Some small business owners will actually tailor their business to serve niche areas or provide services not provided or sold by a Target or other big box store. It’s called “free enterprise” and that is what this country is built upon and those businesses will thrive because they adapted. That may sound cold, but it is a simple fact of life in business.
There are a number of other reasons to have major shopping in Ramona. Less traffic down the hill because we have shopping here, which saves time and money. Shoppers from outlying areas shop here, which gives more exposure to local business. Less traffic down the hill means less green house gases for those that believe in global warming.
Job creation for people that live in Ramona and other “up the hill” areas like Julian and Santa Isabelle. Sales tax growth that supports Ramona possibly becoming a city someday. Better services and shopping for local residents.
But I think a big one is making Ramona a place to “go to” not just a place to “go through.”
Steve Smith is a Ramona resident.