San Luis Obispo needs a Target.
I should ask the mothers in my moms' groups where they do all their shopping, because I'm willing to bet it's not in downtown SLO. Kids need stuff that comes from Target. I'm learning that the hard way.
I shop for other, non-disposable things in the adorable stores that line downtown's streets--and I'll continue to do so if and when SLO gets its Target store.
Since early this summer, I've worked at two different offices downtown. It's the first time since I was in college in the late '90s that I've worked anywhere in San Luis Obispo. Until a year ago, I worked in Santa Maria--literally a hop, skip, and a jump away from Target.
Being downtown several days a week this summer made me fall in love with its specialty shops and chain stores alike, its historic ambiance, and its wonderful walkability. I've spent many an hour walking my baby to sleep, up and down Higuera, past my favorite window displays.
Much to my husband's chagrin, I've made many an impulse buy downtown at the sock store, the craft stores, and the coffee shops. Sure, I could buy socks, scrapbooking supplies, and coffee drinks at Target, but it's much more fun and wholesome to buy those goods from local merchants.
However, the few times I tried to buy a package of disposable diapers or infants' Tylenol downtown, I either couldn't find what I was looking for or had to shell out several dollars more than I would have paid at Target. Paying extra cash is neither fun nor wholesome when it's for something like diapers.
Raising a family is largely what emphasized to me SLO's desperate need for a Target store. I simply can't buy everything I need in one place in my home town. And I don't want to make multiple trips to Long's, the Madonna center, and downtown. Oh wait, I wouldn't be going downtown for anything that I'd shop for at Target (except clothes, but I buy my baby's clothes wherever I find cute outfits).
I'm not asking for a mega Wal-Mart on upper Marsh Street. I'm not asking for a big-box behemoth on Higuera. I need a modest Target closer than 30 miles from my house because it doesn't make sense to spend nearly $10 on gas driving to Target to buy a $5 Rubbermaid bin for my baby's room.
It also doesn't make sense to spend two hours in SLO driving to Long's on one end of town, only to discover it doesn't have what I need. I'd then have to drive to another drug store and probably a third in search of a cheap bin for my daughter's dirty diapers.
In that scenario, I'll have stayed in SLO spending time but no money in local stores, which aren't downtown anyway.
I voted in favor of the Dalidio project, which promised SLO residents their long-awaited Target, among other stores. I participated in a phone survey that tried to tease out my thoughts and arguments for and against developing Dalidio's land. The option was finally put before me, and I voted.
The measure won, so where's my Target?
It saddens me that the hope of more convenient shopping for family necessities--and affordable Christmas gifts--is mired in not one but two legal actions. There's a lawsuit against the county for the way the development project supposedly circumvented the normal, permitted channels. And there's a lawsuit against a group of downtown supporters who may or may not have inappropriately used taxpayers' money to lobby against the Dalidio project.
Regarding the former, how were we voters allowed to democratically express our desires not once but twice on the matter? Why let us do our civic duties of researching the measure(s) and showing up at the polls only to dash our hopes?
Regarding the latter, downtown business owners need to grow up and realize that their stores are attractive enough to local consumers and tourists, whether or not Target comes to town. Seriously, knowing that a group of huffy, deep-pocketed whiners may or may not have done something shady to try to stymie the Dalidio project just makes me want to drive the 30 miles to Target for all of my shopping.
But I won't, for several reasons:
One: I'd have to pack up my daughter for a car ride that may or may not involve incessant screaming.
Two: My baby and I both love walking around downtown. I get to spontaneously spend money on locally sold wares, and she gets to breathe the fresh air and smile at passers-by.
Three: Working downtown this summer gave me a sense of hometown pride--a feeling that wouldn't be diminished by occasional trips to a SLO Target.
Four: If there's something I really need at Target in the meantime, I could always order it online. I'd just rather pay local taxes than shipping and handling.
Freelancer Andrea Rooks can be reached through the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.