Now here’s an article where I’m glad that Buffalo is not mentioned. The Atlantic Cities writer Scott Reeder is asking, “Why Have So Many Cities and Towns Given Away So Much Money to Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s?” It’s a question that many Buffalonians were asking when it was announced that our waterfront was landing one of the hunting-fishing mega stores. Then, for years, Buffalo politicians’ hopes dwindled as city after city announced and built the big box superstores. Take a look below at some of the more memorable snippets from Reeder’s article… the whole piece is a good read:
“It’s almost like they are out to take advantage of the rubes,” says Michael Hicks, an economist at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. “Often these small town city councils aren’t the most sophisticated in analyzing an economic development proposal.”
Art Rolnick, former chief economist for the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, compares small-town efforts to attract these retailers to that of major cities building stadiums and arenas for professional sports teams. Often it is done as a matter of civic pride or for bragging rights rather than as a matter of sound economic policy, he says.
“These stores come into rural and suburban communities that don’t have a lot going for them and convince them that they can put them on the map. Many retailers who enter development agreements want to share sales tax revenues. But in the case of Bass Pro, they want it all,” he says. [Paul Woodall is a Birmingham, Alabama, lawyer who specializes in economic development]
“We have come to the conclusion that the places that are most likely to offer incentives are the places we are least likely to want to build,” Castor says. “People want to come to your stores for excellent customer service and quality merchandise. The taxidermy displays may attract them the first couple times but they will keep coming back for the other.” [Cabela’s Chief Financial Officer Ralph Castor]
And to sum it all up I would like to repeat part of that last snippet for the pure sake of it being so ludicrous – “The taxidermy displays may attract them the first couple times…” Hey honey, let’s grab the kids and take them to see Bambi with a bullet hole through its head. Yup, that sounds pretty darn enticing to me!