In 1926, Hugo Gernsback began publishing Amazing Stories, an American science fiction magazine of fantastic, but entertaining, tales. The magazine was benign: even if the stories described impossible or improbable events, they caused no practical harm.
One cannot say the same about lingering fantasies of fiscal and economic policy in Whitewater, Wisconsin: they produce real waste and real stagnation.
The major expense of opening a grocery store is the building and land. The CDA is currently working with several developers that would receive incentives from the city and federal government to lower the lease cost of a grocery store. The lower lease cost would tip the decision in favor of locating in Whitewater.
This is a gross over-simplification of an out of-town grocer’s prospects, but it fits perfectly with the simple-minded approach of Whitewater’s Community Development Authority. That sad bunch has thrown hundreds of thousands – millions over the years – of public money on out-of-town businesses that have skipped town without paying their obligations.
Indeed, they’ve made so many bad picks with public money that confidence in their judgment is like hoping that somehow, someday, the Titanic‘s designer might build a ship that stays afloat. Best to move on, frankly.
More significantly: the most important element of a grocery’s success is the ongoing relationship it has with consumers in the local community — its ability to gain and keep repeat business. It’s most certainly not covering the startup costs that will assure success — success requires an ability to win back to Whitewater customers who now shop elsewhere. Two prior full-service groceries in Whitewater learned this lesson, and someone who’s lived in Whitewater for, let’s say, twenty-three years should have a better appreciation of how our consumer environment has fared.
If the ongoing conduct of a business were not decisive, companies would not conduct market surveys, advertising, curated product offerings, product sales, employee coaching, community events, etc.
Claiming business insight while showing no candor on this point suggests either a lack of understanding or a desire to pander.
The self-professed development gurus in this city have done nothing to improve key metrics of individual and household prosperity, but they’ve achieved volumes of Amazing Stories all their own.