Opinion: Town should support Taos Plaza merchants

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I would like to address the horrible comments made on a Facebook post on Halloween. Horrible words written behind the screen of a phone or personal computer and equally as rotten as the merchant blocking the sidewalk for Halloween. Yes, if anyone is going to address things, its going to be me.

Credit for the problems going on in the Plaza are squarely on the shoulders of the town administration. There is no logical reason that the merchants in the Plaza should be defending themselves for not wanting Plaza closures. Merchants should never be pitted against the Farmers Market or the community or vice versa.

This is not the Plaza of the ‘50s, ‘60s or ‘70s. Those days are gone, adios, very sad. We are a tourist-based Plaza, yes, tourist, and no the merchants don’t own the Plaza, but they have a huge vested interest in the Plaza. They pay the  high rent, employ Taoseños, pay insurances and gross receipt taxes, so they absolutely should get a voice in the goings on there. Blocking off the sidewalk is a silent protest, as speaking at meetings for merchants is pointless. Artwares is a high-end shop, it’s  stunning and yes we need it on the Plaza. Taos also has the made-in-China shops that sell souvenirs branding the name Taos. These are the exact shops we visit in other communities from Washington D.C., to Chicago, to Virginia Beach to Disneyland to get cheap (not so cheap) souvenirs to give our loved ones upon our return home.

These businesses should be supported by other merchants rather than being attacked. Although times have changed, we have new millennials, there are still blue hairs (as referred to by Mr. Bellis) and they spend money in our town.

The town of Taos is not supportive of small businesses. This is quite apparent as they impede on the Plaza businesses at every opportunity without hesitation. I wish you all would really pay more attention. On Oct. 10, 2017 at the Town Council meeting more Plaza closures were added on to the 2017 calendar, which had already been voted on at the beginning of the year and closures for 2018 were voted on even if there may be a new administration in place. You know who was left out in this decision? The Plaza merchants. Indeed how did this happen? What’s more disgusting is that you the public are so easily distracted with all the parties that you fall right into what this administration (exception, me) wants.

When you add up the entire summer of Farmers Market, which by the way we all love, and yes, it will succeed where ever it is held. This is like having the Plaza closed for 5 to 6 weeks. Moreover when you add the Halloween Party, Sabor de Taos, Christmas closings, New Year’s closings, 4th of July closings, Taos Fiesta’s, Electric Light  Parade, this is a lot of closures or partial. Some of these events can and should be held at the [Kit Carson] Park; if it’s truly for the safety of kids, the Halloween party definitely should be held at the park.

Retail sales according to our finance director is the largest depositor of gross receipts. Merchants need to be respected and included when they are directly affected don’t you think? Wouldn’t you want to be included if your business were on the Plaza? Summer is when the merchants make their money.

The merchant who was attacked on Facebook has a beautiful shop and has every right to exist there. She maintains that entire corner and keeps it beautiful with her own funds. She goes to bat for merchants in distress, such as wanting to close businesses in Old County Court house where alleys are being pushed. One must question the motives of this action and who will benefit. Yes, I will be the one to say it.

There are several things that can be held in the Plaza with no closures and other things that should be held in the park. The merchants fought for years to move the Arts & Crafts off the Plaza due to the direct competition. We have to utilize our beautiful parks and maintain them to make them desirable to visit as well

The town should be more supportive and has no business impeding on the very businesses that support the town of Taos. Caring if any merchant has to shut their doors should be a priority. Don’t we have enough empty buildings?

– Cantu is a town of Taos councilor.

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