Editorial: Hometown businesses unfettered with “Big Box” stranglehold

North Wind Staff

Since 2008, the state of the global economy, and the local economies that comprise it, has been commonplace conversation.

Comic Credit: Dorsey Sprouls
Comic Credit: Dorsey Sprouls

Day after day we hear talk of how poorly economic recovery is proceeding. While this may appear accurate, it is all too easy to lose the forest for the trees. While jobs may be scarce, Marquette’s downtown district is thriving.

Farmer Q’s may be leaving. However, Babycakes Muffin Co. has just remodeled, allowing more patrons. Sol Azteca has filled its tables and chairs every weekend since opening, a remarkable feat for a new restaurant without a liquor license.

The Marquette Farmers Market provides space for regional food producers to sell their products from May to December. Blackrocks Brewery is expanding its distribution and seating space. And Zero Degrees Artist Gallery allows artists to sell their work. These are just examples of the downtown area’s continued success.

This is partly due to a locally committed consumer base. However, Marquette’s public officials are equally-responsible for our dynamic community cohesion. To refer to a popular quote: when local stores and owners bring their own characters into their businesses, people will come, especially when the quality is good.

The Downtown Development Authority works hard to reinforce Marquette’s accessibility to citizens. Creating an environment conducive to economic development is no easy job, particularly when negativity surrounds conversation regarding the state of the economy.

Efforts at economic development involve outreach to consumers and organizations, as well as opening space for businesses to thrive.

We are fortunate in Marquette to have an economy not totally defined by a stretch of big-box stores. Marquette businesses offer unique products and unique services.

Customers are often greeted with a voluntary smile, rather than manufactured “Welcome to Big-Box A.” Considering the difficulty many communities face in supporting local merchants, Marquette citizens should take advantage of the opportunities presented, while not taking them for granted.

Marquette’s downtown district, from Mares-Z-Doats to the Rice Paddy provides a unique cultural experience. Taking pride in this distinct community cohesion means making a concerted effort to support local businesses.

When a city can stay ahead of the curve with so much help from its local features, that city warrants investment.

It is something for that city to be proud of and Marquette will always keep that step ahead because of it.