Letter: Retailers deserve a greater voice
September 18, 2014
I wonder if it would be permissible for a member of the business community to comment on a recent editorial ("Retailers shouldn't dictate their competition," Commentary, Sept. 12, page A13 located next to the advertisement by Pierre/Famille). There are several reasons why I believe the assertions are unworthy of The Aspen Times.
1) The two people who made comments to the City Council were but the merest fraction of the business community (as was indicated to reporter Karl Herchenroeder). Those who did speak simply wanted the business community as a whole to have a chance at a later date to come before the council. For the editorial writer now to weigh in upon this topic with the intention of precluding a hearing on this issue is premature in addition to being undemocratic. Let the business community, not I, and certainly not the editorial writer, speak on it first. Such public discussion should be encouraged, not discouraged, by The Aspen Times.
2) It is the business community that hires employees in Aspen, pays Aspen taxes and, unlike The Aspen Times, attracts visitors to enjoy this wonderful scenery, both natural and material. After all, if we only had majestic scenery, wouldn't visitors and second-home owners be equally attracted to Leadville as to Aspen? (Our thanks to a Times executive for this point.)
3) To compare the business community, as the editorial writer does, to street performers or children setting up lemonade stands is either just insulting or demonstrates a shallow understanding of what brings economic vitality to this valley.
4) The impetus and indeed the title of this editorial suggests that business should not be permitted to voice its views on competition. Where has our editor been all of his life? The role of business has always been, among other things, to comment upon various competitive forces.
5) When speaking of merchants, the editorial notes the business community's desire to "dictate." Is this word suggestive of an ideological bias against business?
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6) The last sentence of the editorial suggests that bringing the most goods before our visitors must be a good outcome. Sounds right. But what if the vendors who do this sometimes offer un-original, in-authentic goods or items advertised as government-confiscated goods that in truth are not? And what if these same vendors sometimes fail to collect local sales taxes, provide no guarantees, forge names of designers or artists and leave their advertisements on panel trucks parked all day in front of jewelry stores and art galleries? Are these the goods and the practices that our visitors deserve? Is this a level playing field? Should we as a community not discuss this situation?
Donald N. Stone
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