Carleton Place Does Not Have to Live in a Walmart Economy


atif1                                                          It’s Always Springtime at the Ginger Cafe!

The big box stores come to our small towns and they give much needed jobs to our communities. I was once corrected on my negative stance on the local big box stores and I apologized. I appreciate the employment they give Carleton Place and the surrounding area. However, if your small local businesses do not have something extra to give the consumer they cannot compete with their lower prices. Walmart and others sells itself as a job creator and small communities buy into it, but ultimately they will do what is good for business and not the community.

key                                                                   The Good Food of the Good Food Co.

area                                                                 A Steamer is NOT What You Think!

Of course the first argument is that they are fulfilling unmet demands in rural areas. But our downtown businesses also have choices and provide employment and tax revenue for our local economy. Did you realize that a profitable downtown core could generate more jobs, and tax revenue than Walmart if our local citizens supported it the way it should be? Accompanied by the heritage aesthetics of our local architecture it could also possibly restore the soul of Carleton Place.

wis                                                The Determined Fashionable Women of Carleton Place

Some small towns go out of their way to attract and bankroll creative entrepreneurs who can suddenly begin to make their streets alive again. Local developers soon get in on the action when they see dollars begin to flow. Most interested parties however, quickly realize that if they want the town officials to support their vision, they have to educate them. That means offering them hard numbers on the tax and job benefits of revitalizing the downtown area. The numbers they envision can produce a “holy cow” moment among the town’s accountants and powers that be. In revitalizing a downtown core you need to take on a multi-dimensional approach, similar to the way our farmers look at their land when they decided what to plant each year. It’s that simple. 

adress2                                       Picture Perfect- Olena from The Dress Shop — By Christine Armstrong

anan                                                   Nancy Code Miller– A Chip Off the Old Block

Let’s say that Walmart brings in $50,000 in retail and property taxes each year, but if the downtown and surrounding streets are working to its full capability; it could bring in just as much in taxes as Walmart pays, and they would employ just as many people. What’s even more surprising is that due to energy use and infrastructure improvements, large-footprint sprawl development patterns can actually cost small towns more money to service than they give back in taxes.

de (1)
                                                 Derek Levesque – More than Words

acurry                                    Hurry my Curry! You’ve got to Eat in Carleton Place!

The result? Growth that produces deficits simply cannot be overcome with new growth revenue. By investing in our local small-business retail rather than mega-stores, Carleton Place could actually boost jobs and our local tax revenues, and spend less on other services. I think it’s time we looked at this idea before we lose the downtown core like other small rural towns. If Almonte and Perth can do it we can too. Food for thought.

agsqq                                                The Granary in Your Backyard — Dena Comley

aser3                                                     It’s All About Love at Slackoni’s in Carleton Place

akrista1                                                 People of Carleton Place, Ontario — Ms. Krista Lee

aeraa (1)                                      The Carleton Place Goddess of Greenery — Erica Zwicker

yvonne (1)                                  Yvonne Kilpatrick from The Blossom Shop at Ladies Who Lunch


            Laura From The Blossom Shop –The Truth Beneath the Rose


“If you don’t know where you come from, you don’t know who you are!” —The late Edna Gardner Carleton Place


Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

This video is pretty brutal… and it is NOT done in mean spirit.. but this is what I see on most days. It is to prove a point. It has to stop.. I want to see it thrive– I want to see it packed..I want to see all business owners (not only on the Main Street) not worry about money.. not just have heavy traffic on a few days of the year either-

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

7 responses »

  1. I think the bigger picture has more facets to it than simply saying that the down town options are unsupported by the local residents. That’s too simplistic and, I believe, untrue.

    1) Demographics plays a big role. What percentage of Carleton Place residents have the ‘ability’ to exercise ‘choice’ and shop for their staples (clothing and foods) on the main street vs what percentage shop at Walmart by necessity due to the cheapest possible price points?

    2) Product Offerings – What percentage of existing ‘Retail Good” stores exist on the main street that are actually in competition with Walmart? Not the restaurants obviously, not the service businesses, and not the real estate firms, not the pizza places either…what does that really leave. What businesses on the main street are in ‘competition’ for those same dollars going to walmart?

    3) Of the families in CP that have the ability to spend more for better quality, how many of them have at least one adult working in Ottawa? Do those higher wage earners who need to travel back from their hard day at work down town, and who pass right by Bayshore and The Centrum and The Tanger Outlets…Do those people have either the incentive to spend that money downtown and/or the ability due to limited shopping hours?

    4) Comparing CP to Perth and Almonte is a bit unfair. Perth has a different demographic, it’s population is more rural based then ours, they have a large draw of farm based families and day trippers out of the city, so they’ve positioned their retail to accommodate both of those styles of shoppers by offering eclectic and unique options in their core, while crowding the highway with big box and fast food. CP has crowded it’s core with fast food and service style businesses (hearing aids, taxi stands, real estate offices, 8 hair salons and beauty shops, Banks, etc). Almonte was smarter, they have similar demographics to Carleton Place but their amazing down town core is a culmination of efforts from developers, owners, council, and residents…something CP has never been able to pull off.

    The solution to the problem is simple, but not easy. Control. Some how, some way, the town council needs to grab control of the main street. They need to expand the retail offerings, eliminate the ability of new ‘Service’ oriented business to take up space on the very limited downtown core. Encourage existing service style businesses to move to new ‘off main’ locations (secondary streets like Victoria, Mill, Beckwith are all options). Control and standardize the frontage options and hours of operations. The town should also somehow link or accelerate the downtown businesses marketing efforts to their own. Web based connections, directory of services, links to websites…I know they exist but they’re lame and outdated and could be handled in a much more ‘interactive’ and mobile friendly way.

    Thanks for the blog, love reading your work.


    • Everything you said is valid and right and it does pertain to all areas of our town. They need to grab control of the retail sector- but no one seems to care- hence we have empty store fronts and 15 year boarded up locations. There are a lot of things on the Main Street that Walmart competes with. The Granary has a store that rivals any health food etc store I have seen even in California.. Yet they go to Walmart for their vitamins etc when they good get personal service and lots of health tips. Or buy their gluten fee bread etc at the shopping centres. Yes, the workforce in Ottawa etc is a huge thing.. but if they put your thoughts and mine together we might get something going. There is no BIA in Almonte and they all work together. Very hard here.. all I am going to say. Way too many personalities.. Loved your comment and thank you… let s hope lots of people read what you have to say.


  2. Well said. I believe Carleton Place is going in the right direction. It takes time and leadership. The beautiful river and Town Hall is the foundation to this beautiful town. The Market, log house, eateries and flowers add a lot to the charm factor. So true about valuable storefront space going to service orientated business. It happens in other small towns as well. A chocolate store or a bakery would be nice. I guess if you figure out what shops are missing you could encourage them to locate downtown. Stores need to be open on Sunday to encourage tourist to come browse and have dinner.


  3. Here, here!

    I totally agree! I was just saying this weekend that it is time for our local paper to specifically take on a column which highlights the gems found in and around local shops in Carleton Place> This would help promote these amazing stores and drive people away from shopping big box all of the time. I even thought about submitting my idea to see if I could write it! “The Find” would be a great name for such a column.

    Is there any thing better than having a tea and walking up Bridge Street browsing the local shops? Try doing that with a cart at Walmart! Also, the service is exceptional at these places. Where can you go nowadays which will tailor a dress for you to your true size? Without support from the Town, there will be next to no hope for these places. The reason why Perth does so well is because their town has made it a focal point of the community. There is no more time to waste. The town is growing at rampant speed and it truly could be such a highlight of living here if only more support, investment and effort was put into taking care of it.

    The other thing is, we need to force landlords/home-owners to clean up their houses as you drive into the downtown core as this isn’t helping matters!


    • A lot of people fight change.. so much we can do. If you talk to the powers they don;t seem to understand the urgency.. Some of the shop keepers don’t either. I keep saying there is no time to waste.. have said it over and over and it falls on deaf ears. The hostory alone is a drawing point as I have found out. Thank you!


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