conway photo Lovely Conway, South Carolina

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Ugly Billboards
By Theodore Sares

It was reassuring to read recently that a prominent developer at the south end of our village's shopping strip has promised not to turn North Conway into another Portland. That's fine, but I wonder what impact Borders, Barnes and Noble, or Starbucks might have on some of our local independent merchants who have worked so hard to bring money into the town rather than send it out. I wonder what Home Depot and Lowe's and the latest new big box (which is one box too many) will do to some of our local businesses and to our new and scenic North-South Road.

Make no mistake, owning a business is essentially about making money. That's the name of the game. Everyone has a right to do it, regardless of size. Indeed, my own business interests and holdings are about making money, but the money comes to me; it does not go to corporate headquarters in Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Natick or Newton, Mass. And I spend a lot of that money at the local book shops and cigar store and at the local hardware and paint stores in the greater Conway area. I strongly suspect the money at the independent book stores in town goes to the local owners, as does the money at the many coffee shops. These are local businesses serving the interests of the greater Conway area. They operate with a long-term focus and, I believe, with a goal of improving our collective quality of life. While they serve tourist as well as locals, their revenue churns within and throughout the valley; it does not flow to some out-of-state corporate headquarters. They are part and parcel of and contiguous with the beautiful fabric of the valley. And they, like so many others, have more reason to care about retaining what's left of that fabric. That, and their entrepreneurial spirit, is what sets them apart.

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