To the Editor:
In the Grosse Pointe Academy seventh-grade social studies class, economics is one cornerstone of the curriculum. The class is always stretched to go the extra mile to study the system of economics of a place.
Whether a country uses socialism or capitalism or something in between, imports, exports, gross domestic product, supply and demand are just a few of the terms that are used.
For example, in our study of African economics we did a case study on the Nigerian clothing industry. When an oil boom in the 1970s turned into an oil and debt crisis in the 1980s, the government of Nigeria embargoed the importing of foreign clothing. Domestic clothing makers, unable to compete with large European and American clothiers before the embargo, now had consumers for their products. Money stayed in the country boosting Nigeria's economy, while also creating local jobs. In this situation, everyone in Nigeria wins.
We analyzed such places as the Turks and Caicos Islands and Harbour Island, in the Bahamas. These places are left untouched by international commercialism including McDonald's, Hilton, Ritz Carlton, and other large well-known businesses. The flourishing of local businesses allows natives to compete without a disadvantage. Tourists can leave large businesses in America at home.
As the next generation of the Grosse Pointe and Detroit metro community, my classmates and I are concerned about the future of The Village and local economy as a whole.
With competition from Oakland County, many businesses cannot compete in Grosse Pointe. With a larger population with more money to spend, Oakland County can draw big names to places like the Somerset Collection.
Money leaves our city and county when Grosse Pointe consumers spend money at Abercrombie & Fitch or Tiffany and Co. at Somerset. To add to the problem, big name commercial places are running out the little guy.
I cannot say I do not enjoy a Starbucks hot chocolate or a Borders gift card, but large-cap companies, with better wholesale prices from large quantities, can generate more revenue than a local company. In addition, a 119,600-square foot building valued at about $10.7 million is thousands after thousands of dollars of short-term wasted revenue when vacant.
Looking toward the future, I think hiring Jim Bieri as a consultant to represent the Village to prospective retailers is the best thing the Village can do for both the future of the Jacobson's building and for the commercial community of Grosse Pointe.
Careful, long-term planning has to be the mission for the perfect service stores of the Village.
Among the ideas my peers presented, most were aimed at a teen market. For example, they suggested businesses such as Dave and Buster's arcade and restaurant, a movie theater similar to the comforts of the Birmingham Palladium, and children and teen's apparel and footwear stores.
Planners and the retail consultant need to realize that there is a considerably large market of people between the ages of 10 and 18.
Though the city council has a retail consultant, merchants must also consider these problems and questions: How is the Grosse Pointe commercial community going to balance small, single-location businesses with multi-national corporations with thousands of stores worldwide? How are they going to compete with neighboring cities that are trying to draw Grosse Pointe citizens away from Grosse Pointe?
Those are the questions Grosse Pointe businesses of all sizes are going to have to face in order to plan well for the future of our community.
Drew S. Brophy, Jr.
Seventh-Grade Student at the Grosse Pointe Academy
Resident of Grosse Pointe Farms
Drew S. Brophy, Jr.
Grosse Pointe Farms
June 16, 2004