I just saw a great article on “Cut and Paste Towns” by Andrew Price. It’s got me thinking.
“I call it a Copy-and-Paste town because it consists of nothing more than retailers that have ‘copied and pasted’ their standard template into the town simply to milk profit out of the town, often by using minimum wage jobs, without contributing any kind of uniqueness or livibility to the town.”
Small town people have a complex view of chains, especially chain restaurants. You know you’ve thought something like this:
“If only we had a Sonic!” (Replace Sonic with what ever chain you’re hankering for locally.)
It’s a status issue. It’s like we think we’ve arrived when we get that certain chain. This is only reinforced when big city people think we have nothing because we don’t have their favorite chain. “No IHOP? Kill me now!”
Landing a chain is only a half-win. You may gain some status, but you lose some prosperity. Local people still want chains, and outsiders use them to judge your town. But surely we’re creative enough to come up with a translation guide. (“Craving Hungry Jack’s burgers? Check out TJ’s Grill.”) And maybe we can help support local entrepreneurs to fill those needs.
So what do you think about chains in small towns? I’m thinking this is worth an entire series, and I’d love to have your input.
A Splash of Color updates
A few weeks ago, while I was out of town, we talked about giving your town a splash of color. You gave me some great examples that I just had to share.
Catherine Sak, Executive Director of the Texas Downtown Association, sent this one:
“Have you ever seen these banners in Hoisington, Kansas? They got a local metalworker to make them and they depict different aspects of town. I like them so much more than the cloth banners everyone uses that don’t last with hot Texas weather…..”
And Keith Snyder, Mayor of Lincoln, Illinois, sent a lot of projects they’ve been working on. Read all about it here:
See? It pays to hit reply and let me know what’s up in your town!