Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, May 05, 2008

"PARD campaign intended to promote local businesses"

Back in Spring semester of 2007, I worked on a project with the PR 313 class at WSU. So did Deirdre Rogers and PARD. This sounds suspiciously like their "project," especially the part about "instructors who will assign Web site creation projects to students as part of their class work."

It's too bad Don Pelton didn't live long enough to refute this hypocritical silliness.

From Saturday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News (annontated with my comments in red):

Stores that sell high fashion aren't limited to the big city.

Nate Schafer, co-owner of Straight Up Fashions, said he likely loses customers who figure designer duds can't be found on the Palouse - let alone in downtown Pullman.

"Because of Pullman's size, people have a mentality that they have to go somewhere else to get something," he said. "There's no place in Spokane, Moscow, or Lewiston-Clarkston that you can get fashions like ours."

The 2-year-old Straight Up Fashions is an example of targeted businesses in the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development's recently launched "Think Local First" campaign.

PARD member Christopher Lupke said the project is meant to encourage area residents to purchase goods from a small business rather than head to big-box stores like Wal-Mart.

"There's a bit of a trend toward corporatization," said Lupke. "I'm not saying we can eliminate and get away from it ... but what we really hope is that we can protect, enhance and maintain local businesses." [Corporatization. Spoken like a true leftist. I'm sure he had disdain in his voice when he said that.]

Lupke said support for small businesses will keep tax dollars in the community to boost the economy and provide jobs. Small businesses also tend to reduce environmental impacts because they generally contribute to less sprawl, are on public transportation routes and add to a vital community. [Excuse me, Lu Laoshi? Keep tax dollars in the community? Reduce environmental impacts? On public transportation routes? Contribute less to sprawl? That's why on the "Think Local First" website, PARD directs you over to Moscow if you can't find something in Pullman, as is likely, since according to the CLUE study commissioned by the No SuperWalMart group in Moscow, Pullman is underretailed in every category except dining out. In fact, they state that "we don't buy into the silly idea that Pullman and Moscow are at economic war." That's funny, because in Chris Lupke's last Town Crier column, he stated that, "Driving seven miles is not going to save any Pullmanite a penny's worth of gasoline." Not to mention it's not going to help those pesky carbon emissions. I've said before that Moscow is Pullman's automobile sprawl. Forget about the thousands of trips made daily by Pullman residents to shop in Moscow stores. How about the 3,000 or so WSU faculty members who live in Moscow and make 20 mile round trips to work every day? It's not sustainable!!!

Chris also said that the Hawkins development is a bad idea because it will "permanently situate the retail center in and near Moscow, miles from Pullman." Read on, The tortured logic and hypocrisy get worse.]

"I think everyone needs to make this decision for themselves, but the goal is to help people realize the whole picture," he said. ["Everyone needs to make this decision for themselves?" That's obviously why PARD has fought Wal-Mart every step of the way. They want to make the decision for everyone else on where they shop.]

The campaign is outlined on the Web site www.pullman-ard.org/thinklocalfirst, which touts a comprehensive list of area businesses. PARD member T.V. Reed admits there are businesses outside of Pullman promoted on the site, and ShopKo - a national chain - also is listed. [ShopKo??? Well, of course, PARD lists ShopKo, or you couldn't even buy a pair of sneakers in Pullman. But ShopKo? PARD does realize, of course, that by listing ShopKo, they invaldiate many of the arguments they make about Wal-Mart (e.g. big boxes killing Mom-and-Pop stores, proximity to schools, utilization of sweatshop made goods, selling cheap Chinese crap, making Pullman a big-box clone of a thousand other places, etc.) Not to mention the fact that ShopKo violates all the benefits of "locally owned businesses" PARD praises on its "Think Local First" website, such as "a dollar spent in a local business circulates through a community at rate 3-5 times greater than a dollar spent on a mega-retailer that goes mostly to the home office somewhere else." The bullshit here is of Augean proportions.

Noticeably absent from PARD's list are grocery stores, as Pullman has had no "local" grocery store since Jerry Finch retired. And I guess directing folks over to the Moscow Food Co-Op would have been too much hypocrisy even for PARD.]

He said the ultimate goal of the campaign is for people to shop at small, local businesses in Pullman. The next best thing would be to keep their money in the region. [How does "keeping money" in Moscow help us? Those tax dollars are gone forever, headed off to Boise. We in Pullman get absolutely no benefit from shopping in Moscow at all. Better that PARD tell people to shop in Spokane or Clarkston, as at least we may get a tiny return on our sales tax.]

"The reason we called it 'Think Local First' instead of 'Shop Pullman' is because we recognize that not everyone can find what they want in a small town like Pullman," he said.

The campaign also includes free Web site development for businesses who want to increase their customer base. Reed said PARD has coordinated with several WSU instructors who will assign Web site creation projects to students as part of their class work.

WSU students will be the primary targets for the campaign, Reed said. He believes many students are not familiar with vendors in Pullman because they don't frequent areas off-campus. The students - who account for a large percent of Pullman's population - also likely are more familiar with businesses in their hometown, where they may shop during school breaks.

"They're not as aware of what is local and they are by far the most potential market and the least developed market," Reed said.

Fritz Hughes, executive director of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, applauds PARD's efforts. He said the chamber does have several shop-local campaigns throughout the year and added that PARD's project won't interfere but may in fact help reinforce the idea.

"Anything that promotes shopping locally, the chamber is behind," he said. "Shout it from the rooftops. Anything to get the word out there is good." [Fritz, by the way, has worked tirelessly to bring Wal-Mart to Pullman. He believes, as do the vast majority of Pullman business leaders, that we need a mix of national and local retailers for a healthy economy.]

Schafer also praises PARD's efforts to support local businesses - especially via the Internet.

"Everything is Internet-based. These kids are so computer savvy. Anything you can do Internet-wise is going to be beneficial. It's a huge tool and it's a successful tool," he said. The official Straight Up Fashions Web site will be online soon to provide high fashion to customers worldwide. [Nothing against having web sites for local stores, but that won't solve Pullman's sales leakage problem.]

Leslie O'Dell, owner of At Home Designs, a custom frame shop on Main Street, wasn't aware of PARD's campaign but said shopping locally should be a consumer's first instinct.

"We are the people of the community; that's what people should do," she said. "People should support small business."

Reed isn't surprised some business owners weren't aware of PARD's project. He said the first step of the campaign was to launch the Web site. The next step will include fliers and advertisements, and the group then will gauge the campaign's effectiveness by talking with local business owners.

"It's not centered around the businesses," Reed said. "They're not helping us. We're doing this for them." [That's the one thing in this article I believe. Dale Hammerly and our own April Coggins, both of whom have been attacked publicly by PARD, have their businesses listed (Jerry's Auto Repair is conspicuously missing. Hard feelings still I guess.) There are several other businesses listed whose owners are no fans at all of PARD either. I have a feeling that the list will grow somewhat shorter in the next few weeks.]

O'Dell said she's appreciative of the free advertising, but isn't sure she wants customers to associate her with PARD's longstanding opposition to a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pullman. She has mixed feelings about the retail giant potentially locating on Bishop Boulevard and doesn't want her business to suffer if customers see her name on a PARD Web site.

"Being listed on that, maybe they'll connect me with that," she said. PARD was formed several years ago to appeal the store's environmental checklist and traffic studies. The appeal still is pending. [I said this in an open letter to TV Reed almost two three years ago. By pushing this Wal-Mart issue so aggressively and by continuing their costly legal appeals when there is no further point, PARD has burned their bridges with the community. Even if this wasn't a anti-Wal-Mart smoke screen (it is) and the "Think Local First" effort was being conducted for the best of reasons, it doesn't matter. PARD has destroyed any political capital they may have once had. They are too hated and too controversial to be effective at doing anything in Pullman.]

Reed said the local campaign is not related to PARD's protest of Wal-Mart locating in Pullman per se, but mirrors efforts nationwide to encourage consumers to buy goods from small businesses in their communities. The time is right to spread the word about the benefits of keeping dollars local. [Per se, that's baloney. This campaign is right out of the Wal-Mart Haters handbook: "Step #6 Present An Alternative"

On their "Think Local First" web site, PARD says, "try a local small business first, if they can't meet your needs, then try a Pullman-based national chain, or a Moscow independent business." Well, I think we all know what non-independent Moscow business they don't want you to go to, and the initials are WM. Come on.

Speaking of the "Think Local First" web site, it is located on the PARD web site. I'm sure they are hoping that people who visit there will look around at the anti-Wal-Mart propaganda elsewhere on the site. It's just a publicity gimmick. If PARD truly had wanted this effort to be separate from their Wal-Mart bashing they would have used a separate domain name. Domain names are very inexpensive to purchase.]

"It's long overdue," Reed said. "I hope the whole community will get behind this." [I'm sure they will TV, just like your "affordable housing" campaign.]

Technorati Tags:


April E. Coggins said...

PARD did not oontact our business for permission to use our business and my name. We do not endorse PARD's vision for Pullman, much less America. PARD has once again presumed to know what is in our best interest. Russ and I are not happy that our business and my name are being used to promote a business model that we can never support.

April E. Coggins said...

I've taken a closer look at PARD's list and it appears that they copied the membership directory of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, weeding out the members that they deemed not local. Jerry's Auto is not a member of the Chamber, so he was left off.

It's also interesting that at the top of each page is a link to PARD right next to a link to the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, leading one to believe that they are co-sponsors of the site. I wonder if the Chamber has knowingly given PARD permission to use the Chambers directory and more importantly, the Chambers reputation with an implied endorsement.

Tom Forbes said...

You're absolutely right, April. PARD is trying to glom on to the Chamber. It looks like they (or the PR 313 students last year) lifted the Chamber member directory right down to Slinkey the Clown. There are some exceptions though.

Safeway and Dissmores as I mentioned are not on PARD's list, in addition to McDonald's. Denny's isn't either, but that's because John and Marilyn Harvey are listed as individual members. Shows how much PARD knows about the local business they supposedly are trying to protect.

ShopKo, while not a member of the Chamber, is on PARDs list.

If I were Fritz, I would not allow PARD and their negative business vision to be associated with the Chamber in any way. Of course, I wouldn't have allowed them to have booths at the Lentil Festival in 2005 and 2007 either. But Fritz is a diplomat.