With the new retail outlets cropping up in Hesperia, it's true that we have a better selection of nearby places to shop. Our everyday needs are easily met. But many of these places offer the same type of products. Although brand name stores allow us to do price comparisons, they offer little that's distinctive. We lack boutique-type shops or department stores that would satisfy us when we have unusual items on the shopping list. For example, I just returned from a very productive shopping trip down the hill. I was looking for something unique that I wasn't able to find at any of our local establishments.


Now that Gottschalks has closed, it's no longer necessary drive to the mall in Victorville. We have as much selection in Hesperia. We've benefited from the retail boom that came to the High Desert following the new housing; and the steps our city managers took to establish Hesperia as a California Enterprise Zone. I especially enjoyed the day when a couple of out-of-town shoppers at the Gateway Center commented favorably about SuperTarget, Marshalls, Ross and Rue 21 anchoring the complex and asked what city this was. I was proud to say, "This is Hesperia."


Our proactive business-friendly city offers free classes to augment the attraction of the EZ. These assist business owners and managers who want to establish local small businesses by providing tips on creating unique selling points to attract more customers. The concept is a good one and could be the first step in a process I benefited from when I was an independent professional woman down the hill.


The city I lived in provided free ongoing monthly programs to all local businesses or professional services. The classes were in city-owned facilities and conducted by local volunteers. These included sessions on many topical subjects such as business psychology, payroll management, understanding insurance, requirements of CAL OSHA and questions not permitted on employment interviews. The women of that community also developed a professional organization that provided dining facilities for local women suitable to use when meeting


business clients.


Much can be accomplished by cooperative action of the city government with local business and professional leaders. And perhaps the best way to start is to focus on what we have to attract people to spend their money here. I believe that it's specialization that will bring people to our town to shop.


Consider my experience last weekend.


I was shopping for a very specific wedding gift for a bride and groom who are committed to minimizing their carbon footprint. They will grow their own vegetables, dry their laundry on an outside line and recycle whatever they can. I wanted to endorse that philosophy by giving them goblets for their wedding toast that reflected their commitment to the ecology. But I also wanted the gift to be attractive and worthy of retaining as a keepsake. I searched locally before I reluctantly gave up and headed down the hill where I found colored goblets made of hand-blown recycled glass. They were attractively crafted and the hand-blown feature made each slightly different in hue and shape. This gift would have been economical except for the tank of gasoline to find it and $6 in parking fees.


My point is that Hesperia retailers have an opportunity to provide consumers something different. Rather than having the city look to attracting retailers who will duplicate what is offered elsewhere in town and setting them up to have to resort to price wars to survive, let's try something different. Or better yet, let's look for retailers who offer a lot of different things. Why not solicit for a department store?


Our rents are low. The city encourages curb appeal by enforcing architectural standards. Spacious, free, off-street parking lots are plentiful and these too create an invitation to shop. We have a lot to offer. If word got out that we also had unique places to shop, it would not be unreasonable to expect that shoppers would come up the hill to shop here. Word would get out. And when someone asks, "Where did you buy that?" we can proudly say, "in Hesperia."