A REPLY FROM JIM STILES TO THE "LETTER FROM FRIENDS OF THE ZEPHYR"
("with 'friends' like these...")
Recently many Zephyr advertisers received a poorly written, ill-informed piece of misinformation titled, "A Letter from Friends of The Zephyr." In true cowardly (but not unexpected) fashion, this letter was sent anonymously...so much for the courage of their convictions. And to add insult to their self-inflicted injury, these boneheads didn't even spell my name
correctly! (It's 'Stiles,' not 'Styles.')
Here are a few excerpts: (click here
to read the entire letter)
A LETTER FROM THE FRIENDS OF THE ZEPHYR
TO- THE ADVERTISERS IN THE ZEPHYR
WE ARE A GROUP WHO HOPES YOU BELIEVE IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF JIM STYLES AGAINST CLOUDROCK- TOURISTS AND RICH WEASELS IN MOAB!
YOU BUSINESS FOLKS... STOP BOOKING TOURS TO OUTSIDERS-ESPECIALLY ASPENIZERS FROM COLORADO, STOP SELLING THEM PROPERTY, BOOKING HOTEL ROOMS, AND CATERING TO THEM. DON'T BE FRIENDLY TO NEWCOMERS OR TOURISTS- THEY ARE THE ENEMY OF OUR LIFESTYLE. RICH WEASELS WHO COME HERE WILL RUIN OUR LIFESTYLE- THEY SUCK!!!
NO MATTER HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT STYLES- HE IS GOOD FOR MOAB. CHASING AWAY BUSINESS MIGHT LOOK LIKE. FINANCIAL SACRIFICE-BUT LETS FACE IT- YOU GUYS HAVE MADE ENOUGH BUCKS ON MOAB ALREADY. JIM KNOWS YOU BUSINESS PEOPLE ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM! EVERYTIME A BUSINESS GOES UNDER, MOAB IS A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE.
DON'T ASPENIZE MOAB! LOWER THE POPULATION AND LEAVE MOAB TO THE MOABITES!
Obviously these aren't what you'd call CLOSE friends and this was not a "Zephyr-sanctioned" letter, but I thought I should offer a reply. In fact, I wrote it weeks ago for the Feb/Mar issue of The Zephyr; it will be distributed in late January but I include it here in advance. In the essay, I allude to another time, in 1994, when similar anonymous letters flourished and a handful of Greedhead Moabites demanded more and more tourist promotion. What I don't mention is that, in that same letter, the unsigned letter-writer attempted to put me out of business by going after my advertisers--the more things change, the more they stay the same. It didn't work seven years ago. I doubt if it will work today.
As long as humans have breathed, there have always been tragic individuals within the species who are slaves to the almighty dollar. Who fall to their knees at the sight of it. Who can NEVER satisfy their voracious appetite for it. And who hate ANYONE who isn't similarly infected. What a wretched way to exist on this beautiful planet.
Fortunately, most supporters of The Zephyr share my outlook. We like the dollar, but we're not blinded by it. Money is a means to an end, not an egomaniacal end unto itself. We want to make a living--but NOT a killing. And we want to have a LIFE. Not just a job.
So here is my reply to all my "friends" who write anonymous letters--or is that 'fiends?' Dopey fiends?
PROMOTING' MOAB...A never-ending saga
I've been following the most recent efforts by some local citizens to "promote" Moab. It's a story that has repeated itself for the last 65 years. This Second Annual Retro Issue is dedicated to the 1940s, and as you follow the events of that decade, it's apparent that Moab tourist boosters have been around for a long, long time.
Right now, there is a sense of desperation in the voices of some of these boosters. They are concerned that we are not promoting the area enough, and that business is suffering as a result. In the last several months, I've read a few letters to the Times-Independent with that near hysterical plea to pump more and more money into the Travel Council budget and to take tourist promotion to new levels.
WE MUST HAVE MORE TOURISTS TO SURVIVE!!!
Now read this:
"It's Reality Time. With the commercial infrastructure of this town growing at a rate much faster than the visitation increases, what could we possibly expect? How thin can you slice the pie before everyone starves?
"So what is the response? "WE NEED MORE PROMOTION!" Of course. The never-ending spiral. We promote the area. Visitation increases. New businesses come in until we have more businesses than can really be supported by the current level of tourist visitation, and profits start to fall. The demand goes out for more promotion and visitation shoots up again. More new businesses come to town. The slices of pie shrink yet again, and the call goes out for more promotion. Et cetera...Et cetera...Et cetera."
I wrote that almost seven years ago.
In the same issue, I printed a letter that was sent anonymously to many Moab businesses, urging them to demand more tourist promotion. In part, the letter said, "Grand County must not give the impression that we do not want tourists. We need to be able to pay our bills and put food on our and our employees' tables."
Then the Unknown Letter Writer said this, "We have experienced enormous growth and the solutions to the problems associated with the influx of people will take care of themselves (emphasis added)."
It really said that.
All of this rhetoric, mine and theirs, came in the summer of 1994. Calculate how many more thousands of people come here annually. Then take note of how many new motels, restaurants, and curio shops have come to Moab in seven years. More motels are on the way, even as I write this. I recently heard that the Spanish Valley Water Conservancy District wants to extend its service area all the way north to Seven Mile Canyon and the Dead Horse Point Road, so that some entrepreneur can build even more motels out there. And then add Cloudrock into the mix.
Are we completely mental?
Once again, I'm sure I'll get tagged with the old "Anti-Growth" label, but is it anti-growth simply to want the existing local businesses to survive and flourish? Communities like ours can experience two types of growth: Internal and External.
External Growth requires the never-ending influx of new businesses to an economic area and generally these businesses merely compete with businesses of the same kind that are already there. Motels? Fast food chains? Souvenir ball caps? How many more of these tourist-driven businesses will be needed to satisfy the voracious, bottomless appetites of pro-growth boosters?
So why doesn't this town focus more on internal growth? Why doesn't the Chamber of Commerce or Pro-Moab support the growth and expansion of already established businesses? If the Chamber really wanted to be effective, it should advertise the idea that if out-of-town businesses want to come here, they should at least offer us something we don't already have.
Consider the coffee shops in Moab. Right now they're all independently owned and operated and struggling to survive as it is. So do we want to boost our tourism to such levels that we finally meet the demographic requirements for a Starbuck's?
What will that do to Red Rock Bakery and the Knave of Hearts and Mondo and Eklectica and the others? Is the purpose of tourist promotion to drive out the small businesses and replace them with national chains?
I seriously hope not. But that seems to be where we're headed.