American Apparel in Los Gatos

There’s been some flack in Los Gatos about whether to allow an American Apparel store to open up in downtown. The primary concern is that a big mall-type outlet store will join a town’s historic, quaint business district and make it look like yet another strip mall.
It’s not that the town was saying no to the store as much as saying, not here. We have malls a few miles away where teenagers go to hangout all day. This downtown is full of local shop owners.
And while I read the editorials, and definitely felt a passion for the topic, I couldn’t figure out why. What was the point of fighting this store, I thought, when we had already let in Sur LaTable, Williams Sonoma and the greatest of all mall-type stores, the Gap. Who were we kidding?
But I’m glad American Apparel didn’t make it to downtown. I don’t want my town to look like every other generic town. I want us to maintain the uniqueness of local stores. Perhaps that means paying for local labor and local taxes in the price of things I buy. I like the fact that Susan at Romantiques knows me my name, or that Sue’s of bags and fragnances would throw a party for my friends. Or that the local cafe remembers my friends that I bring in. I as a business owner, know other business owners and together we are part of the fiber of this town.
Would a chain store have the same connection? Would they remember who I am? Or would I be another faceless name and number in commerce. I think we all seek human connection and want to feel distinct and recognized for the person that we are. The way our little town can maintain that is to say no to the big guys and remember that local stores will remember our name, and remember our stories.

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