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In my small town, I'm making a pledge to shop local


Costco is opening a new warehouse in our hood.

In small towns like ours, this is the sort of news that makes some consumers downright giddy. For many, industrial-size racks of toilet paper, artichoke hearts, and quinoa pasta create untold anticipation, as visions of free samples of Chinese dumplings and pastry-wrapped weenies dance in their heads.

For others, the arrival of a Costco is one more nail in the coffin of a once-vibrant downtown.

While I must admit to considerable temptation at the prospect of purchasing a 25-lb. bag of tasty pepperonis, I also believe that Costco threatens the prosperity of our communities and is an ideal place to witness some of the worst of humanity.

The horror begins with the ruthless battle for any parking spot less than 300 metres from the entrance; continues inside, with roller derby-style collisions as Costco "members" cut each other off in a death spiral of cart rage; and reaches its climax with the senseless race past the cash registers to the sudden bottleneck. It is here at the exit where evil meets absurdity as employees proofread a 36-inch receipt and audit your overflowing cart contents with a nonchalant swipe of a magic marker.

But instead of merely complaining, I decided to put my money where my mouth is, see for myself what's been going on, and rediscover our downtown.

The first and strongest impression is that it's the younger generation that takes this issue to heart. And while they're not recreating your parent's downtown, stuff is really happening. Youthful entrepreneurs are operating vegan restaurants, bicycle shops and homemade pasta emporiums.

I explored a fancy new parlour run by a thirty-something hipster. I asked the budding artist what style of tattoo was popular and am considering his suggestion of a calligraphic tramp stamp that reads, "Nowhere to go but up!"

Two doors down, I was presented with an even more sensitive conundrum as I pondered the options offered by the piercing technician. Seems nowadays even the unspeakable is pierceable... and I didn't even know what vaping was until I met Hank, our local guru.

It's not all tats and vapours - we've got other gems, too - but they won't flourish without a collective commitment. Wilkie's Bakery makes the most decadent Chelsea buns - a must for weekend morning gatherings. Just Elaine's is a classy fashion boutique much appreciated by my wife (a bit too much, really). Town's Jewellers has sparkling baubles that have brought joy to innocent fiancée's - and facilitated many an exit from Chateau Bow-wow. Our downtown farmer's market has been a hub for local produce, crafts, clothing, and baked goods for nearly 200 years - and there's a stand where I can always buy 25 pounds of local organic pepperonis.

If we care about our local economies, we've got to follow the example of the younger generation. We must fight the warehouse urge and spend more time and money downtown supporting the brave and the inventive. One more thing, you won't find a big box ad in a newspaper. It is local merchants who support local papers - both in print and digital.

Ted Markle, a newspaper industry veteran of more than 30 years and former president of TC Media, is a keen observer of the humorous side of the human situation. He appears in this space every Monday. You can reach him at ted.markle@tc.tc. – Twitter : @tedmarkle

In small towns like ours, this is the sort of news that makes some consumers downright giddy. For many, industrial-size racks of toilet paper, artichoke hearts, and quinoa pasta create untold anticipation, as visions of free samples of Chinese dumplings and pastry-wrapped weenies dance in their heads.

For others, the arrival of a Costco is one more nail in the coffin of a once-vibrant downtown.

While I must admit to considerable temptation at the prospect of purchasing a 25-lb. bag of tasty pepperonis, I also believe that Costco threatens the prosperity of our communities and is an ideal place to witness some of the worst of humanity.

The horror begins with the ruthless battle for any parking spot less than 300 metres from the entrance; continues inside, with roller derby-style collisions as Costco "members" cut each other off in a death spiral of cart rage; and reaches its climax with the senseless race past the cash registers to the sudden bottleneck. It is here at the exit where evil meets absurdity as employees proofread a 36-inch receipt and audit your overflowing cart contents with a nonchalant swipe of a magic marker.

But instead of merely complaining, I decided to put my money where my mouth is, see for myself what's been going on, and rediscover our downtown.

The first and strongest impression is that it's the younger generation that takes this issue to heart. And while they're not recreating your parent's downtown, stuff is really happening. Youthful entrepreneurs are operating vegan restaurants, bicycle shops and homemade pasta emporiums.

I explored a fancy new parlour run by a thirty-something hipster. I asked the budding artist what style of tattoo was popular and am considering his suggestion of a calligraphic tramp stamp that reads, "Nowhere to go but up!"

Two doors down, I was presented with an even more sensitive conundrum as I pondered the options offered by the piercing technician. Seems nowadays even the unspeakable is pierceable... and I didn't even know what vaping was until I met Hank, our local guru.

It's not all tats and vapours - we've got other gems, too - but they won't flourish without a collective commitment. Wilkie's Bakery makes the most decadent Chelsea buns - a must for weekend morning gatherings. Just Elaine's is a classy fashion boutique much appreciated by my wife (a bit too much, really). Town's Jewellers has sparkling baubles that have brought joy to innocent fiancée's - and facilitated many an exit from Chateau Bow-wow. Our downtown farmer's market has been a hub for local produce, crafts, clothing, and baked goods for nearly 200 years - and there's a stand where I can always buy 25 pounds of local organic pepperonis.

If we care about our local economies, we've got to follow the example of the younger generation. We must fight the warehouse urge and spend more time and money downtown supporting the brave and the inventive. One more thing, you won't find a big box ad in a newspaper. It is local merchants who support local papers - both in print and digital.

Ted Markle, a newspaper industry veteran of more than 30 years and former president of TC Media, is a keen observer of the humorous side of the human situation. He appears in this space every Monday. You can reach him at ted.markle@tc.tc. – Twitter : @tedmarkle

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