Kunal Mukhopadhyay

David and Goliath…… live happily together?

In Globalization, Social trend on February 13, 2007 at 3:34 pm

I started this text as a comment but didn’t want to take up whole page, so figured might as well post it here. It was in context to the post by Magnus on his blog, about the future of the idyllic town of Alingsås. The string of thought concerns itself with the “mega” construction project on Kungsgatan, of a new shopping mall with mostly (not all) chain store shops. Magnus worries about the implictions of such an endeavor with respect to the well being of the smaller idyllic shops in this historic town. It is this very unique character of finding a smaller town away from Göteborg, where one can spend the day enjoying the open market in the town square or sip a cup of coffee in one of several cosy cafés, walk the the narrow streets in town through some very pretty old houses, that attracts folk and business from all over.

An interesting observation to a classical dilemma. How does one preserve the richness and originality of a idyllic town while keeping abreast with the pace of modernization?

With globalization re-defining the fabric of lifestyle in almost every part of the world, it is a big challenge to ensure that the economy of the town does not collapse/stagnate in the wave of departmental stores and low price chain stores. One can study a whole lifetime of examples from history of a country like the US where “waves of trends” literally turned towns from tiny establishments to booming industrious wealthy hubs and subsequently to just a historic shell/ghost town/tourist destination (e.g. Jamestown, NY).

Having lived in the US – experienced the fast-paced big city lifestyle in Philly and New York as well as smaller rural setting (Centre county, PA), I find Alingsås the ideal compromise to big city and small town setting. Yet, who doesn’t want the latest, newest, hip and cool shopping experience? Especially when the targeted consumer segment is the 13-30 yr market!

So, yes Alingsås needs the modern shopping mall nested in the midst of all the cafés and small pretty shops. The challenge, I believe the politicians need to face upto, is finding a way to keep the smaller shops and premises to remain in business, perhaps by offering greater incentives and providing assistance in keeping up with the fierce competition. It is, in the end, a David and Goliath situation, only this Goliath is not as “evil” perhaps?

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