Bruce Stover: 'Formula stores' can be good

Special to The Pilot & Today


I am writing this letter in response to Thursday's article regarding the drafting of an ordinance to impose restrictions on "formula stores." This seems like another attempt by local government to regulate competition and provide protectionism to existing retailers that may be ultimately bad for the consumer. I own and run a business and have to compete with global companies who have huge budgets. If we don't provide the right products at the right price and compete in an effective manner, we will be out of business.

The same should hold true for the retailers in Steamboat. Many locals have benefited from the addition of the new Staples store and have been able to save time and money shopping there. The sales tax dollars generated there stay here. The Ryans have done a great job making their bookstore a destination by adding great food and a nice place to sit and meet others. I am sure they sell more books because of it and have increased their revenues. This marketplace-driven innovation is what is needed on the part of existing business people, not an ordinance that keeps others from competing and virtually guarantees inflated prices and little need for creative innovation.

When you talk with others who live here about where they shop, inevitably Denver or Silverthorne is where Steamboat residents go. It is not because they like the drive or don't want to support local merchants; it is usually because the selection and prices are much better elsewhere. Hundreds of thousands of sales tax dollars are lost each year because the current merchants don't offer what local people need. Our city is funded primarily from sales tax dollars, and we are considering ordinances that would restrict major retailers from coming into the market who can deliver more sales tax revenues.

Due to our population and location, we will always be a destination ski area. Even if we see some "formula stores" or national chain stores, people from the Front Range are not going to drive all the way to Steamboat to shop, and the character of downtown is not going to be ruined. "Formula stores" are well designed and maintained as per their corporate mandates and are almost always well-stocked, well-staffed and clean. The larger retailers recognize they need to have a large enough population base to support their store, and for most of them, we do not. Then they have to offer a good selection at the right prices and the stores need to have an effective look and atmosphere in order to compete. They don't need an ordinance to know that.

The retailers and restaurateurs who are here need to spend more time looking at improving their businesses and taking care of their local customers and less time trying to scheme up ways to keep competition out. The City Council should realize where their bread is buttered and protect the large number of consumers who vote as opposed to the small number of retailers worried about how they are going to compete.


another_local 10 years, 1 month ago

The article in the paper gave the false impression that this effort is directed toward protectionism or other anti-competitive results. The statements that might lead you to that conclusion came from the writer, not the people engaged in the dialog.

I can not speak for city council. I think you may be right that some of that impulse exists there, but not all the proponents of the effort are working toward that end. You should attend the planned meeting on Wed afternoon and participate.


agentofchange 10 years, 1 month ago

Hello all ! I was at the meeting yesterday, and here is what I observed. First off, the reporter made it sound like it was Jim Cook's show. NOT!! Jim was informative, candid, and frank. Thanks Jim! From merchants and food vendors: "pure fear". They reminded me of someone who bought an "exclusive territory franchise", and someone was invading their "territory". Please protect us government !! From Mainstreet: A house divided. Some wanted the most restrictive rules possible (with the promise, that in the event they over stepped the goal, then they could always reduce the restrictiveness of the rules) RIGHT !? Some wanted something in the middle. The fence sitters (don't want to offend anyone) Others (like myself) want no action on the part of the city. We are true free traders. Now here is the real kicker... what we have here in River City is a Planning Department AND CITY COUNSEL just chomping at the bit to be the "FIRST" ones in Colorado to write a "RESTRICTIVE LAW" regarding the legalized restriction of FREE TRADE !! They want to be the first! They want to go to the "MUNICIPAL DOG AND PONY SHOWS" and show the rest of the State and World how they fought off the evel "predatory" (whatever the heck that means) competition !! That's what this is all about!! We may even get the Denver TV stations up here, wouldn't that be something !? How exciting, how stupid !! Further, when I asked planning if they need a public vote on the issue, the answer was NO ! By the way, some of the crowd at the meeting, not only want to keep competitors out of down town, but all of Steamboat!! YIKES! What about the consumer at large? By the way, the City already has a "Draft" in the works... It is coming, like it or not, the dogooders and the protectionists are going to get their way, if there's any one from the Department of Justice out there... HELP !

Parking anyone ? Parking anywhere ?


snowysteamboat 10 years, 1 month ago

Yo - Agent

I can assure you that the City Planning Department is not driving the boat on this one. Being married to one of its staff, I can tell you that they just do what they are told to do by the almighty Council


agentofchange 10 years, 1 month ago

Ok, the Council is driving this head on crash into "Anti-Free Trade" Big Surprise. Clueless! What the current merchant types downtown need most is more traffic (boots on the ground) What downtown in general needs most is parking. Bond issue anyone? Clueless!


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