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Affordable retail space a problem in St. Albert

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  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014 06:00 am

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As St. Albert continues to ponder plans for the original downtown area, I would like to see some original thinking.

Encouraging unique and local small business is futile unless affordable space can be available. And that is complicated in a market driven economy. Only so much space is available.

Civic buildings, elected government individuals, a business development complex and other non-retail uses abound. I honestly think the only way you will attract genuine small retail enterprises is to have the big box stores partner with such enterprises. Why would a big business network or get financially involved in a smaller business?

Because it would be in their self-interest to do so. The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker are destination-based stores. As an Edmonton city councillor recently said, "people don't drive to a neighboring town to check out their big box stores".

Genuine "customer over the counter by owner" businesses will not survive or thrive unless original solutions surface. They don't fail due to a lack of customers. They fail due to a lack of affordable space.

I challenge St. Albert to put on their famous thinking caps.

As an aside, Westlock is responding well to our Daisy Dollhouse Saturday only store. If we are patient, our finding affordable space will be rewarded.

Irene Cornwell, Morinville


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