Merchants could have done more

So, we didn’t succeed in our bid to win a place in the Main Street Matters top 20 towns.

So, we didn’t succeed in our bid to win a place in the Main Street Matters top 20 towns, whereupon Nelson would have been given enough free paint to redecorate about three blocks of Baker Street. This is the very same Baker Street that has recently been criticized as tired, past its prime and in serious need of a refresh. It will take more than paint to renovate the whole area, but it would have been a great start.

And who has been leading the volley of complaints about how poor the street looks? The very merchants whose stores are located there, who feel that “something must be done” to help their businesses in these tough times. Now, we may not have won this contest against bigger communities anyway, but we could have at least tried. I mean, tried properly. As always, the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce, and the new Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism association punched above their weight in building awareness of the vote through social media, the visitor centre and any avenue they could find to get the message out. But where was the effort from the downtown businesses that do so much complaining?

A few stores had small posters in their windows. That was it. Did anyone see anything from the Nelson Business Association? Did I miss the volunteers/employees who were approaching customers and asking them to vote? Would it have been too hard to have a tablet right by the checkout to encourage direct voting (IP addresses can be changed, you know…) or to ask a customer to just click on their own device? Perhaps a collective ad campaign in the Nelson Star? Any other bright ideas; was there even one business that made a serious effort at all? Sorry if I missed all of this, but it was very well hidden. These merchants will be the very same who march to the City to demand that something be done.

Perhaps, instead of yet more complaining, businesses can work with the City to develop the proposed downtown plan, instead of whining about how a change of traffic would hurt their own small patch. Have a grand vision for the entire community of Nelson, maybe, instead of parochial “not-in-my-backyard” myopia. Protesting is all well and good, but when there are ideas offered as solutions, why not try working consensually, instead of writing schoolyard petitions and failing to see the bigger picture? And when you see a gifthorse, try not look it in the mouth.

Brian Lesson, Local business owner, Nelson

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