Are they good neighbors?
No one will argue that the rebirth of the City Bakery as Cops & Doughnuts has put Clare on the national radar. People get off the highway with Cops & Doughnuts as their destination. A steady stream of doughnut boxes walks down McEwan on any given day. However, it is questionable as to whether or not Cops & Doughnuts is a good neighbor to the other downtown businesses. It has been announced that two local eateries will be closing their doors due primarily to the competition of Cops & Doughnuts.
Like much of Northern Michigan we have been hard hit by the struggling Michigan economy. Clare is a small town with an even smaller downtown district. Although several fledgling businesses have opened this year, there are still many empty store fronts. For downtown Clare to do well, there needs to be enough choice to attract customers and make it worth their while to travel here. We need to support each other to maintain a healthy balance of businesses that appeal to a variety of tastes and needs. Encouraging our customers to frequent the neighboring stores creates a congenial atmosphere that makes it pleasant and productive for the shoppers and the store owners. It builds trust and camaraderie.
With each expansion Cops & Doughnuts has invaded another business’ niche in the community. They expanded the bakery fair from mostly sweets to the staple breads of J.T. Bakers. They added a lunch room, cutting into the clientele of the five other small eateries in the two block radius. Now they will be adding a specialty coffee bar in direct competition with Coffee Talk and the new Friends & Coffee. Much to the distress of their loyal customers and friends, Coffee Talk is closing its doors on November 21st and Bob’s will be following close behind. Where will the loyal employees of those businesses find work? Will they be forced to leave the area as so many others have?
The town will be affected in other, less obvious ways by the loss of two businesses. Who won’t miss Bob’s iconic chicken float in the parades? There won’t be as many contributors to light the trees, donate auction items to Big Brothers, Big Sisters, or to the many other events and fundraisers throughout the year.
The residents of the Clare area must take some responsibility also. It isn’t enough to say how beautiful, unique, or special a business is. That doesn’t keep the doors opening. We need to give flowers, bring visiting friends and relatives into town for a unique shopping experience, get a haircut, buy a new outfit, take an art, craft or music lesson, get our bikes in tiptop running condition, and make home repairs. Keep your hard earned money in town supporting your friends and neighbors.