I read Eve Fisher's letter to the editor in last night's Madison Daily LeaderÂ with relish (and a spicy Italian sub with chipotle sauce). She aptly condenses a wealth of public commentary on the proposed publicly subsidized thrift store in Madison into four rock'em-sock'em points. With Ms. Fisher's permission, I reprint in full:
Iâ€™ve read the June 11th article re the Thrift Store, and I can assure LAIC and the steering committee that they are pushing for an idea that almost no one in town likes or supports.Â The following are some of the reasons:
(1) Madison is already the home of two dollar stores, Loopyâ€™s, the Flea Market, the Pawnshop, 2nd chance, Unique Boutique, and the Front Porch.Â A new thrift store will in no way fill a need, a niche, or add value or â€œprogressâ€ to Madisonâ€™s downtown.
(2) No consignments, eh? Just donated stuff? Why should the citizens of Madison just give the thrift store stuff to sell? And, if they do, wonâ€™t it all be crap that basically otherwise would go in the landfill? And who on earth would want to buy it?
(3) Since â€œthe steering committee had spent six months visiting thrift stores in other communitiesâ€¦ [to] create a practical plan for Madison's proposed thrift storeâ€, why on earth didnâ€™t the steering committee (or the LAIC) bother to ask the citizens of Madison first what WE would like to see downtown?
(4) Number one among the answers of what most people in Madison want isÂ Â another grocery store.Â If Madison can handle nine different secondhand/consignment stores and yet be told we need another, surely we can handle two grocery stores, which would provide competition and service to Lake County as a whole.
I hope that this thrift store will not be passed without a vote by the people.Â And I strongly encourage the steering committee and the LAIC to actually talk to a variety of Madison citizens and ask what we want, instead of telling us what they think we should want to have in our community.
Note: open citizen participation is a key aspect of this debate. You readers have submitted over a hundred comments to my three posts on the thrift store over the last couple weeks. But I'm not convinced the steering committee wanted a lot of public input. According to the minutes of the May 31 Madison City Commission meeting, after numerous citizens voiced their objection to the use of city funds for the project, "Jerry Johnson stated that he would support the Commission tabling the issue for 30 days in order to provide more information to the citizens." They didn't see engage us in public dialogue; they said give us the answers. The steering committee's Question and Answer sheet embodies the mistaken Madison philosophy: we're not here to involve you in finding answers together; we're here to tell you our answers.