Why we published this letter

A Red Wing resident sings the praises of the Outdoor Store in a letter to the editor elsewhere on this page. It’s a rare occasion when we publish such a letter.

We’re making an exception because the letter goes to the heart of a critical local issue: What will it take to strengthen Red Wing’s position as a regional retail trade center?

This newspaper’s guidelines are quite clear when it comes to accepting comments – whether complaints of compliments – about private business. They typically are rejected, unless they address a public issue.

In just the past couple of weeks we’ve received calls to People’s Platform about rude clerks, poor service and the lack of availability of a product. None was published.

However, we have published comments regarding the wisdom of closing a street for a business expansion or questioning the siting of a business, based on safety issues. Those are appropriate subjects for public debate.

Also ripe for discussion are Red Wing’s ongoing attempts to reverse the exodus of retail dollars to shopping centers in the Twin Cities, Rochester and other metropolitan areas. In recent years Red Wing has witnessed two concentrated – and failed – efforts to bring a major retailer to town.

The Planning Commission also is reviewing a suggestion that the city consider establishing a fourth retail district. And the Downtown Council just recently finished a survey that attempted to identify the strengths and weaknesses of local retail establishments.

Our policy cuts both ways. To be fair, if we don’t publish negative comments about private business, it’s difficult to publish positive comments. Again, there are exceptions. Each comment is judged on its merits.

Our policy is standard among most newspapers. Our decision to withhold comments has nothing to do with protecting advertising revenue, as is often suggested. And it is not a judgment of whether a complaint has merit. In fact, we encourage individuals to forward their comments to where they can be handled most effectively – such as the Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau or store management. We expect those sources would welcome the feedback and could produce the most immediate remedy.