Six Degrees Of Stupid
Apparently, Value Village is NOT owned by Wal-Mart! It seems that mistake stems from a CBC Radio story from a few years back, and has been repeated by many media outlets ever since--including by us. Sorry! (Value Village is in fact owned by Savers, a U.S.-based retail chain.)
In this case, the Six Degrees of Stupid go something like this:
1) It’s announced that a used clothing store will be built in an upper-middle-class neighbourhood. 2) As used clothing stores obviously attract only the dregs of society, said neighbourhood will soon be overrun by said dregs. 3) The dregs arrive — right on schedule. 4) Inevitably, the dregs begin a rampant crime wave — it’s just what they do, right? 5) The crime wave escalates until the fine, hard-working — and by no means classist or racist, not at all, not ever — citizens of the neighbourhood fear for their lives. 6) Within a year, the neighbourhood is overrun by a Zombie Apocalypse, and all perish.
Okay, so we made number six up — but the rest of it doesn’t sound too far off from the fear-mongering that some residents in Stonebridge are offering up.
Plans for the construction of a new Value Village (a used clothing, household items and furniture chain) were announced in early March of this year — and almost immediately, a whine-fest ensued.
Initial grumblings out of Stonebridge were linked to increased traffic congestion in the area, and the potential for mess left behind from people haphazardly dropping off their goods. Fair enough, perhaps, although both seem like relatively minor concerns. (When it comes to traffic, for example, one might point out that the area already has a Wal-Mart and a ton of other big box stores — here’s betting a Value Village isn’t going to be the straw that breaks the traffic cop’s back.)
However, rumours also began to circulate that more than a few Stonebridge residents were frightened over the kind of clientele that a Value Village would potentially bring into their neck of the woods. You know — those “dreg” types we were talking about above.
Not fair enough.
In a thread on a Stonebridge community forum that began shortly after the Value Village announcement, users began to vent their subtly prejudiced frustrations.
“Do I need to fear for my children’s safety and my property with the types of people this store is going to bring into our neighbourhoods?" said one user, while another stated, “I also think this is a terrible idea. Value Village will reduce the image of the community, and I’m not sure the clientele of Stonebridge are the same people that shop at Value Village type stores. Horrible idea.”
Isn’t anonymity a wonderful thing? Well, get prepared for more of it.
I went trolling around the Stonebridge community (probably often being mistaken for the future “scummy” Value Village clientele that some of the residents are oh so afraid of, come to think of it) in order to extract more opinion on the subject. Most residents scurried away without comment, a few thought it now an old and dead issue, and to be fair, I found some that were excited about the proximity of a new thrift store.
“It’ll be great having one close by,” said an anonymous Stonebridge resident. “My kids and I shop at the one on Circle all the time. All types of people shop there. It’s pretty silly to think that the shoppers of the new Value Village are somehow going to ruin our community.”
Wow — is rational thought and basic human decency winning the day?
Maybe it will. To be fair, I’m betting a ton of Stonebridge residents would be of the same positive viewpoint as the above, and are kind, decent and rational people who would be horrified by any suggestion that allowing people of lower income to shop in their neighbourhood will somehow cause a crime wave or property values to crash.
On the other hand, maybe it won’t. Many of those I talked to seemed to hate the idea of a Value Village breaking into their pristine world, but refused to elaborate. One, however, was willing — as long as he could remain entirely anonymous, except for his gender.
So, what about the prospect of a Value Village near your castle, Mr. Anon E. Mous?
“Look, if I wanted to live in an area that had a thrift store nearby, I would’ve moved to Mayfair. If I wanted to live in an area with people that made me uncomfortable, I would have chosen Riversdale,” he said. “But I have a young family, and I chose Stonebridge because I felt it was a safe place to raise a family. These companies need to think about what kind of areas they’re building in, and how that’s going to affect those residents.”
Interesting! What is it that makes you “uncomfortable” about Riversdale, sir? Why, I can’t even hazard a guess!
It soon becomes clear that there’s no racism or classism at work in Mr. Mous’ opinions — just simple mathematics!
“It doesn’t take a math major to add it up,” he says. “You build a place that sells old used clothes and whatnots, you’re going to get a lot of people with lower incomes coming around here. It’s no secret that people with lower incomes have a tendency to have a higher crime rate.”
And obviously, there’s just no way they’ll be able to withstand the temptation of all those shiny possessions you have, right? I hope they don’t get so whipped into a crime frenzy that they riot!
“No, I don’t think they’re going to fucking riot after [shopping at Value Village]. But it’s going to bring these people to the neighbourhood. Who’s to say they’re not going to come back later for reasons other than shopping?”
Lord knows, sending a rock through the front of your brand new extended cab truck will almost certainly be an impossible temptation for most of the shoppers at Value Village. They’ll also probably kidnap your child and kill your dog right after they’re done picking out a new picture frame. Why not, right?
“It’s simple. I don’t want my house to be a target. I don’t want my family to be a target. And I liked my chances of that a lot more before I heard that we were getting a huge used clothing store,” said the resident.
“I’m not opposed to building a used clothing store. Go ahead, build as many as you want. But think about where you’re building it first. We really don’t have the market for that kind of store here. There’s plenty of other areas in the city who would love to have a store like that. It just doesn’t fit in Stonebridge. How many people on my block do you think wear used clothes? Um, how about none.”
Clearly, for this resident and more than a few others, Value Village is the one that’ll have a target on it if any crime happens to occur in the neighbourhood.
“We’ve had it pretty good here in Stonebridge. Once the Value Village gets up and running, if we start having problems, I’ll know what direction to point my finger.”
I’m thinking more than a few Saskatonians would know which finger to point in your direction, sir.