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Our View: New chain stores will strengthen local retail climate

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The opening of Best Buy and BevMo stores this month is a coup for Placer County coffers. Along with construction moving along on a Home Depot and plans underfoot for a Costco inside city limits, these national retailers are going to change the way Auburn shops. Before, locals may have been tempted to take a sojourn “down the hill” to shopping Mecca Roseville. Now they can purchase DVDs and liquid libations in town, and perhaps patronize the many local restaurants and stores they would have never noticed before. These chain stores will keep sales tax dollars local while enhancing small businesses that offer unique products and services. It’s a model that will help sustain and diversify Auburn’s business and retail climate — not kill it. The Best Buy and BevMo are strong anchors for the Rock Creek Center at Bell Road and Highway 49, in the former Ralph’s building. These anchors are important to draw customers into the shopping center and support its businesses. The ability to shop big national stores without eating up gas on a trip to Roseville might encourage residents to spend more of their money here. Instead of a trip down to Best Buy in Roseville that includes lunch and a few other shopping errands, Auburnites could hit up the local Best Buy and seek out lunch and more shopping within city limits. While some decry the “Rosevillification” of our fair city, the additions of Best Buy and BevMo to North Auburn simply intercept dollars that were flowing down to Roseville anyway. Some of these dollars will go to the county, while others will come into Auburn proper as shoppers venture into Downtown and Old Town. Costco is courting a property inside the Auburn city limits for a warehouse store, which would give Auburn shoppers a chance to buy bulk at massive savings. In fact, Auburn could be the new “down the hill,” catching sales tax dollars from Colfax, Nevada City and Grass Valley residents who would now come to Auburn instead of the next closest store in Roseville. Some would rather have big-name stores at arm’s length in Roseville, but money spent there doesn’t help pave Auburn’s streets. The new shopping landscape on the horizon won’t stifle our local businesses. No big-box store will erase relationships built with customers over years or the unique products and attentive customer service for which smaller stores are known. Our charming historic district isn’t producing the revenue local government requires to continue offering current levels of service without raising taxes. The Streetscape project, the city’s redevelopment plan for Downtown, should help revitalize the business district, but small Ma and Pa businesses can’t turn the same kind of big-box sales figures in their limited square footage. It’s clear that new solutions for increasing sales tax revenue are needed, and residents must be open to bringing national retailers into the mix as a way to keep our community thriving.