Thursday, July 06, 2006

Gander Mountain: Taking the High Road.

A hat tip today to Joe Kristan over at Roth and Co., who was the first to discover this interview with Gander Mountain CEO Mark Baker. At first glance, you may think Baker is a little taller than his competitors. That's an optical illusion created by the fact that his competitors are on their knees, begging for your tax dollars.

Gander Mountain is standing tall because they've refused to play the game that way. Some quotes from the interview:

Playing one community off another, these retailers push for tens of millions of dollars from taxpayers to help finance their stores. Even more troubling, in some cases they are persuading states to give them favorable "nexus rulings" that are costing taxpayers even more in lost sales tax collections ... Neither Cabela's nor Bass Pro would disclose the total amount of public money they have received over the years, but our estimates put the combined total at well over $400 million. When you add the value of the nexus rulings, the total goes even higher.

"We believe in the American system of free enterprise and consider these demands to be anti-competitive and fundamentally inappropriate. We cannot in good conscience go down that road and maintain our integrity as a good corporate citizen. We think it's wrong. So we are unwilling to accept the 'everyone is doing it' argument and become part of the problem."

"Resources that could be used for education or true economic development are being wasted on private retail developments. Communities have been paying big money to bring in low-paying retail jobs. Buda, Texas, for instance, gave Cabela's subsidies worth $61 million, or about $271,000 for every full-time job, according to our estimates. Reno, Nevada spent $54 million, or $208,000 for every job."

I'm not really an outside kind of person, but quotes like this make me want to shop at Gander Mountain. Also, in the article, Baker mentions materials and studies Gander Mountain routinely shows to local governments. A quick phone call to Gander Mountain Base Camp in St. Paul got me a link to Say No 2 Outdoors Retail, which is a terrible name for a great site.

They do have a blog, but more importantly, they've got this page of studies done on public incentives for retailers. If you're still not sure corporate welfare is a problem, check out:

This study done at Iowa State on how big box retailers affect their community and the surrounding areas,

This study, done in Pittsburgh, on how subsidizing retail has cost the metro area millions and produced next to nothing in new jobs,

This economic impact analysis from Florence, Alabama concerning a proposed Bass Pro Shop,

and this list, which lays out the multitude of reasons why corporate welfare typically fails to produce jobs.

I only wish the current administration would read some of this.


1 comment:

Joe said...

Kyle, excellent post!