Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More retail insanity in Chicago

Just south of Alderman Joe Moore's 49th Ward is Mary Ann Smith's 48th. Moore is best known nationally for his unsucessful anti big-box retail outlet crusade. Smith got her share of attention with her proposal to essentially ban elephants within Chicago's city limits. Trust me on this one, rampaging pachyderms are not a burning issue in Chicago. Of course, Smith has circuses and Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo in mind with her PETA-inspired legislation.

There must be something in the air on Chicago's North Side that gets alderman in a tizzy about national retail chains.

From the Chicago Tribune, free registration required.

For years, the Andersonville neighborhood on Chicago's Far North Side has been defined by its quirky, hip, one-of-a-kind shops and eateries: Women and Children First bookstore. Wikstrom's Gourmet Foods. Alamo Shoes.

Now, as the once-struggling neighborhood becomes a hot destination for residents and shoppers--and large corporations take notice--some local business leaders and politicians are considering a drastic attempt to lock in the area's charm: the city's first ban on chain retailers.

According to a draft ordinance by the city Law Department, "formula businesses" such as Starbucks could be banned from designated business districts in certain historic neighborhoods.

The ordinance has not yet been introduced. But if it were to make its way through the City Council successfully, qualifying neighborhoods could decide whether to opt in to the ban.

Like Moore's Rogers Park neighborhood, I used to live in Andersonville. The area does have a few "quirky" stores, but architecturally the neighborhood is nothing special.

Here's what's going on. The current retailers there, the quirks, are afraid of competition, so in the "Chicago way," these merchants are asking for protection from their local alderman, plain and simple.

To comment on this post, or view posts on my recent trip to the Great Smoky Mountians, please visit Marathon Pundit.

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