The City of Keizermart

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What with the news about Roth’s Keizer-location grocery store announcing its close, Were thinking a lot about that town. We believe Keizer can teach us things about how we choose to build our communities, and the folly of unwise choices.
Keizer was created in 1982, when what was north of Salem split off to formed its own city.  Because of its late start, Keizer never really had a downtown. What it did have – and what might have served to center the place, give it an identity – was the long strip development of River Road.

This “business district” consists of mostly locally owned businesses; it’s Keizer’s Main Street. It has local banks and restaurants, car washes and insurance offices, taverns and Hispanic businesses – and for a long time, locally family-owned Roth’s grocery store. A lot of good people live around there, and I am proud of the many small businesses that have survived and built up what Keizer is today.

But when an outside monkey wrench got thrown into the machinery – when the Keizer Station mall was approved – everything changed. City leaders driven by city staff (and isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?) allowed developer Chuck Sides to build a cheerless, uninspired moonscape, miles from Keizer’s center, for absentee-owned big box stores and fast food chains to squat in a pedestrian-unfriendly asphalt wasteland.

This huge retail development was plopped down on the edge of the city. The city promised, ‘oh, it will only be this limited size, and won’t have a Walmart,’ but then changed the plan to allow bigger stores.

It’s called “bait and switch” and Keizer leaders should be ashamed of themselves. They sold out their people and their businesses to the highest bidder.

The moment Keizer Station was erected its multi-national corporate stores began to compete with indigenous River Road enterprises. For the last many years it has drained creativity and resources from Keizer’s Main Street. With more greed than foresight Keizer put their own business district on a path of mediocrity. Even the city’s main annual event (the Iris Festival) has been yanked from the former main street out to the concrete wasteland.

What a way to thank local businesspeople! And now, in 2012, the specter of a giant Walmart joining the Keizer Station team has appeared again.

It’s funny how the Walmart rumor just doesn’t want to die. It seems that Walmart really values Keizer. And Keizer… well, what does Keizer value?

At this point leaders still say there is no current plan to have Walmart move in. We find their statement pretty hard to credit when you look at what they’ve done so far.

The threat of Walmart and the decision of Target to expand their grocery business has been enough to force Roth’s off of River Road. Salem Weekly wishes the best for the people and local businesses of Keizer.  And so here’s this week’s advice: Please don’t shop at any of the stores at Keizer Station.

Yes, I said that. Shop at locally owned business whenever you can, because our choices of what to buy begin to shrink with every additional big box store. And while I’m on a roll, here’s a little extra: think of Keizer Station during the next election. Think about a community that might still stand up for itself and save what is unique and special rather than caving in to be another Anywhere USA.

And if you don’t, well – maybe they should change their name to the City of Keizermart.

What do you think? Talk about it.

5 Comments

  1. The recession monster has taken over many buildings, families, and small business owners. At this point in time it’s hard to tell people not the shop at Big Box retail stores when they typically have the cheapest prices, but on the other side of the coin if they do not start to spend the majority of their shopping time at local owned small buisnesses the store fronts will die out. Then the big box retailers really have you by the you know whats because they are no other options for places to buy the goods you seek. It’s a hard place to be in….

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  2. Bill Quinn says:

    The question is’Was Keizer Station good or bad for Keizer”. I beileve it was good because it will geberate needed property taxes to support city needs andin addition to creating jobs. It gives Keizerites many more options for shopping.River Rd is a hightway and a strip mall and that is what it will always be. I personally did not want to see a Wal-Mart go into Area “C” but that is no reason to criticize the entire urban renewal project. Keizer city council never promised to not have a Wal-Mart in Keizer Station because they could not do so. Another error in your opinion was Keizer was never a part of Salem. Your suggestion to shop locally is well intended. If I was to shop for clothes in Keizer I can go to Target, Ross for Less, Marshall’s or Rhe Men’s storeall in Keizer Station. I would not have to go to Goodwill on River Rd. If you are going to write an opinion please get yourfacts correct. I would never suggest to anyone to stop advertizing in Salem Weekly just because I disagree with many of ypour articles.

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  3. Brandon Smith says:

    Roth’s in Keizer is closing because, by their own admission, they could not compete with the other grocers (Safeway, Albertson’s, Fred Meyer, and now Target). They were the only “locally-owned” grocery in town, and had the highest prices.

    I especially love when they invoke the tired “city leaders driven by city staff” line.

    “There is no darkness but ignorance.” — Shakespeare

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  4. Wow says:

    Keizer station is a fail and a waste. all the stores suck and it just seems out of the way, I might go there once a month because I took a wrong turn lmao .. keizer fails big time.

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  5. Kopp Joseph says:

    Keizer is not a self sustaining city or town as it is. It relies on everything that salem has. Since its conception in 1982 it’s never really had its own identity. It’s still an infant as far as cities go and it needs to grow and find its self. Sometimes growing is painful and times have changed. Right now everyone in Keizer has to go to salem for something. Keizer needs its own stores big and small and right now all over oregon big stores are winning. Keizer never had a down town and it still doesn’t. Maybe they should have thought of that in 1982. I like Keizer station, it’s easy freeway access, something salem has really dropped the ball on. Maybe that’s keizers identity, easy freeway shopping.

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