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I just wanted to thank everyone for participating in the Café today. I had a great time reading your responses. Obviously this is a very heated topic. And, I’d like to thank all of you who showed your support for small business today.

Your support means a lot to all the small business owners out there that are facing the Supercenter threat.

Today I asked you to take a look at what San Diego’s future would be like with and without Supercenters. Now, I’d like to ask you to take a look back at the past, and not let history repeat itself.

Before the 1960s, small neighborhood commercial areas reigned in San Diego.  I’ll use North Park as an example. It was the “downtown” shopping area for San Diegans. It had an REI, a See’s Candy, a sports shop, and a trolley running through the commercial area.

Then, during the 1970’s, malls popped up in Mission Valley, and the promise of ample parking and added convenience drew people from their neighborhood commercial areas.

Stores closed. Small business owners went bankrupt. In North Park, vacancies and boarded up storefronts showed up for the first time. Kudos to Joe Schloss, who’s Sports Shop at Ray Street and University is the only remaining original shop, established in 1946. 

State legislation in the 1970s established Business Improvement Districts as a means to allow business owners a venue through which to improve their commercial areas and draw back shoppers from the malls. Yes, the problem was so big that it took state action to begin to resolve it!

While San Diego’s Business Improvement District system is strong, we always remember the reason for its existence: the fact that the malls drew business away. With this in mind, we recognize that Supercenters would draw business away, too. This is back tracking.

This is undoing all of the work of the community, the small business owners, and our government. This is our past. Let’s not make it our future.

— DIANA SPYRIDONIDIS

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