While the people of Turlock have been engaged in a pitched and feverish frenzy about the fate of the downtown farmers market, another battle has gone mostly unnoticed. A decision has been made that will be changing the character of our beloved Main Street.
It appears that several small shops on the 200 block of W. Main have been given their 30-day notice by their landlord, Matt Swanson, and are being asked to vacate locations that some of them have held for decades. In just a couple of weeks, Turlock’s downtown will lose a 62-year old flower shop, a promising local artisan jeweler, a clock and watch shop, a shoe repair store (that based on its sign has probably been around longer than I have been alive), and a barber shop with enough character that it should certainly qualify as a local monument! These types of shops were the very reason that the movie "Christian Mingle," another Matt Swanson project, made the trek to Turlock for its recent filming.
This is very distressing, as a three-year plan of a wealthy Christian individual should include putting himself at risk, by informing his tenants well in advance, so that they can plan accordingly. Even if it hurts the income from that property, it could mean the survival of those businesses, by allowing them to find new locations.
As a proud free market capitalist, I do not think that we should be enacting measures to stop property owners from doing what they want with their own building. This action is troubling simply because capitalism is only helpful if combined with a higher moral code, one that places others above ourselves. Without the ability to elevate the needs of our neighbor, especially when we are in a position of strength, it leads to the business decisions that strip-mine mountains, pollute rivers and remove the irreplaceable decades old patina of a charming downtown, all to further personal goals, without the consideration for the businesses, and the livelihoods that depend on them.
You can simply look at West Main to see that Matt Swanson obviously cares about this community, and has done much for the revitalization of downtown. For that investment we should be very grateful. He is certainly no Henry F. Potter; but it is the actions towards those weaker and more vulnerable than ourselves that determine the measure of a man, and decisions like these certainly do cast an uncomfortable shadow over our town.
The charm of a downtown was not created overnight, and the small shops that have served our parents and grandparents are a significant part of that allure, especially when they are side by side with new and flourishing businesses. My wish is that they be allowed to stay, but if they are made to leave, they should be given the time needed to find new homes, as is deserving of their significant time serving downtown Turlock.
A Saddened Turlock Resident,