Shopping local smart choice

Jon Young

In the four years that I’ve been in Marquette, I’ve noticed an influx of name-brand chain stores popping up on the highway.

I’m sure a lot of college students get excited that they can get their fix of Buffalo Wild Wings, Best Buy or whatever sweet deal T.J. Maxx is offering that week, but I think it’s important to consider the effects this trend could have on Marquette’s downtown and locally-owned businesses.

With the opening of PetSmart and T.J. Maxx in the past two months, it is as important as ever to support businesses that have served the community and that have local ties to the community amongst their ownership.

Casualties is a family-owned business and has been in Marquette for 13 years, providing the area with snowboards, shoes, skate and surfing accessories and T-shirts they make in-house.

The owners of Casualties are NMU alumnus and have invested in the city by providing students and residents with job opportunities and a place to shop. Do you think the CEO of T.J. Maxx cares about the community of Marquette, let alone has even heard of Marquette?

The Pet Shop is a similar case. It has been in Marquette for over 15 years and the owner is an NMU alumni. PetSmart had their grand opening last weekend, and while it garnered a lot of excitement, we as buyers should keep supporting places like The Pet Shop and Mare-Z-Doats (locally owned since 1983).

I’m not implying that being the CEO or owner of a chain store makes you a heartless person, but I do think that distance disconnects you from the Marquette community.

When someone has no connection to the city or community other then the money their business generates, they don’t have the emotional tie that is crucial in keeping downtown vibrant.

Someone miles away has less of a connection to the city and, in many cases, will not care about Marquette or the workers that keep the city alive.

A good example of this is the recent closing of Upfront & Company. While this business wasn’t part of a chain, it was controlled by out-of-town ownership.

The owner deuced on over 70 employees, giving them a four-days notice before locking the doors.

That’s not to say that all owners are this ruthless, but it goes to show that when someone doesn’t live in a community, they don’t care as much about the effects of their decisions.

Marquette’s downtown has its own style. The store fronts are almost all filled and there aren’t any nationally recognized chains fogging up the windows on Washington Street. Marquette has its own culture.

The outskirts of downtown are already showing signs of corporate America with Little Caesars and Dominos on the horizon.

These stores haven’t muscled their way into the main block of downtown Marquette, but it seems like that could be the next step.

Now think of locally-owned restaurants like The Vierling being replaced by Texas Roadhouse; Dairy Queen taking over for Donkers; and The Landmark Inn turning into a Holiday Inn.

This seems unlikely, but it’s our responsibility as consumers to support locally-owned business and keep downtown Marquette original.

If students want to spend their time shopping at malls and blowing money at fraternity-style sports bars, they should go to school in a city that has already established that scene and not expect Marquette to adapt.

Owners of stores like The Pet Shop, Casualties and Mare-Z-Doats, amongst others, have connections to Marquette. They have taken the risk of opening a small business and are giving back to the community.

Local businesses give the Marquette community a distinct character and quality. They have been helping residents for years.

We as consumers owe it to these owners and the city itself to shop local and keep chain stores on the highway out of town.