Orland organic ag magnate Charlie Johnson opines Socratically on the "community" thrift store being built on Madison's Main Street:
Does anyone know if there was ever a professional study and/or survey taken verifying the feasibility of a new thrift store and building in Madison? Was there ever a public meeting held to discuss the feasibility of such a project. What is the status of the "so called downtown improvement survey of needs" that was undertaken by the downtown improvement committee under auspicious of either the Chamber of Commence or LAIC? Was the thrift store mentioned in the top 10 needs within that survey? Does the investment group building the new thrift store have a professional prepared business plan for their endeavor? [Charlie Johnson, Facebook post, 2014.04.01]
Johnson's questions elicit an interesting bit of recent local economic development history from Rick Sterling:
Charlie, Interesting that you should ask. From 1998 -2002 I was the Executive Director of the Career Learning Center in Madison. At the time our center operated a Goodwill Industries collection site near the current location of Montgomery Furniture/Lewis Drug. We collected used clothing and household goods for Goodwill. At the time several people asked us to start a Goodwill (type) store. When I talked to John Silvernail at the Lake Area Improvement Corporation about this, he said a survey had been done among the Dakota State business students who made a recommendation for such a store. When I told John that I could get grant money to make the store a reality, he said "not only no but hell no." We don't want Madison to be a "junk city" [Rick Sterling, Facebook comment, 2014.04.01].
Fascinating. Sterling says that just 15 years ago, he heard popular demand for a thrift store, but the LAIC refused to support such a project, saying it wold be bad for Madison. Now the general public is underwhelmed by the idea of a downtown junk shop, but the LAIC supports the project with free land.