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The Stores Remain the Same
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
I didnít realize there were three Wal-marts in Fort Wayne until I drove past the northeast location on 469 a few weeks ago. I know about the proposed Wal-mart for northwest Allen County. But I completely forgot a Wal-mart is coming to the south side of Fort Wayne. If the Lima Road Wal-mart goes through, that means weíll have five of them in the city.
Donít we deserve better? I mean, do we want to be known as ďFort Wal-mart?Ē The store does serve a purpose, but personally, I donít shop there because I donít think they treat their people right. Iíve never seen a company so blatant about squeezing every last penny out of a budget, and sometimes breaking the law to do it. Saving a buck is fine, but not the way Wal-mart does it, so I donít shop there.
How about attracting stores that are different? People here shop for entertainment, so I canít quite understand why they wonít demand stores that are truly unique, but are perfectly willing to put up with yet another Wal-mart. I look forward to my road trips, because it gets me out of town, but it also opens up other shopping/entertainment possibilities. For those of you who refuse to leave Fort Wayne, hereís what youíre missing:
Half Price Books, Indianapolis: Always a treat. Cheap books, some new, some not. Iím always on the lookout for older favorites that Borders doesnít stock, because the books have been out of print for more than a year. They also buy books, magazines, CDs, computer programs and cassette tapes. Itís rare that I donít buy something when I go in here. They also sell calendars and other bookstore type things.
Block Party, Indianapolis: A giant video arcade, complete with old-school favorites. Itís open to all before 6 p.m., in the evenings, itís adults-only because it also boasts a sports bar. Thereís even a ball pit and one of those habitrail-tunnel things for those times when you feel like being a hamster. You can also play games and win tickets, redeemable for prizes.
Ikea, Schaumburg, IL: Rather challenging to get to, as the directions on the website were fine up until the very end, but itís well worth the trip to the only three-story Ikea in North America. Itís so big, I assumed it was part retail store, part manufacturing. Instead, itís 80 percent showroom, 20 percent warehouse. And the prices are unreal. If youíre looking for clean designs, whimsical accessories, linens, reasonably priced furniture, and a family-friendly shopping atmosphere, Ikea is the place. Itís easy to spend several hours looking at all the stuff and planning what to buy. And if you get hungry, stop in at the cafť, where the food is incredibly cheap.
Dave and Busters, Chicago, IL: A lot like Block Party, but the furnishings are much more elegant, and you can actually get real food, not just bar snacks, although there is a full bar on the premises. Probably the only video arcade Iíve been to that has valet parking. It also has cool video games Iíve never seen in Fort Wayne, such as a virtual boxing game that is a great way to burn calories and vent your frustrations at the same time. It also has Derby Owners Club, a game that allows the wannabe horse trainer/breeder in me to flex her muscles. Itís the closest Iíll ever get to racing my own horse and this game is a refreshing change of pace from the usual shoot-em-up violence-fests that permeate the world of video games.
Quimbyís, Chicago IL: ĎZines, unusual books, comics and graphic novels. The local free publications drop their product at the front of the store, and this is the place to load up on rags like ďThe Onion,Ē quite possibly the funniest parody of newspapers and journalism in general that Iíve ever seen, and the ďChicago Reader,Ē an insanely-thick weekly that always has something interesting in it.
Tim Hortonís, Windsor Ontario, other Canadian cities and a few U.S. cities: The best hot chocolate Iíve had from a coffee shop. Besides, a hockey player started the franchise, so it has to be good.
So the prospect of yet another Wal-mart in town leaves me cold. Iím waiting for the day it merges with Starbucks and we see ugly buildings with the name ďWal-bucksĒ or ďStar-martĒ popping up. Both stores are everywhere as it is, why not join forces? Overpriced coffee and cheap stuff. Add some wireless internet and live music and youíve got the next new consumer trend.