From JIM HOULE
Many of us fought against Measure A because we believed that Ukiah had no need for out-of-county retailers stealing business from our local merchants. Yet both the City Council and the County BOS are moving ahead trying to entice CostCo to locate here either as a part of the Airport Blvd. shopping area or as a special use permit on the old Masonite Site.
Many of those who seemed so militant last fall about keeping out the DDR complex now seem to be showing their true colors: they are really well brain-washed Super-Consumers trained in front of TV screen since infancy. They like the idea of a local CostCo in town. They love to push those oversized carts around a store empty of sales help and with an unpredictable inventory. They really don’t give a shit about the fate of our local merchants nor about the seedy look of empty stores on State Street that are the legacy of our previous run-ins with the Bog Box Monster. Yet, but yet, maybe they are actually the Realists: they know Little Ukiah can’t keep fighting the Big Capitalists indefinitely and are willing to make this one compromise so they can frolic along the broad aisles of a Ukiah CostCo and stand for 20 minutes at the checkout.
But how will CostCo impact local business? Who will be hit first? Probably the food stores: The Ukiah Valley cannot support our three big supermarkets plus both CostCo and the planned Walmart food store. Already struggling Raleys will likely go under first and those living in the north end of town without cars will be miles from a food store. Clothing retailers will also be hit including the barely alive outdoor-wear group: MacNabs, Rainbow and Tractor Supply. These, and a few small dress shops on School Street are about all that remain of our local clothing emporiums. Others likely to suffer from a CostCo invasion include small appliances stores, optometrists, hearing aid outlets, druggists, wheel and tire shops, and bookstores. CostCo will even impact the local gasoline stations who now gladly fill your tank for say $15 bucks so you can rush down to Santa Rosa CostCo to save two bucks on a pound of imported cheese. Hell, CostCo gas usually undersells the regulars by 10 cents and besides we won’t have to drive to Santa Rosa!
If this goes forward, it will merely prove that we remain the brain-washed consumers we have been trained to be since we first slipped on those disposal diapers. Why not locate the new CostCo just north of the county line at the Geyser Road turnoff from Highway 101? Anchored in the blue ooze, we can take bets on whether the Big Box becomes a victim of those inexorable hill-slides or whether the economy gets it first.
We know that investors in Big Box retailers have a very short attention span. When the economic downturn really hits bottom, most of our Big Boxes will collapse like a Haitian Hillside and State Street will be left looking like Dresden after the War.