I would like to thank the mayor and Belleville City Council for having the guts and foresight to allow the German market idea to proceed. The downtown merchants are the main obstacle to the growth of downtown.
They simply don't get it when it comes to merchandising. This same group, or the predecessors, are the reason that Interstate 64 went through Fairview Heights and O'Fallon instead of Belleville. When we had a chance to have it follow what is now Illinois 15, the merchants declined because they wanted to "keep the rifraff out." Well, I guess you can see how well that isolationist attitude worked out.
What the downtown merchants need to recognize is that if they want to compete and progress, they have to wake up to the idea that most shopping is done in the evenings and on weekends. Businesses in Fairview Heights and O'Fallon recognize that more businesses from big box to mom and pop flourish when more shopping opportunities are available. If the German market is successful, the downtown merchants will see more floor traffic as well.
So I sincerely hope that, for the survival of downtown, this idea of an exclusive enclave that tries to keep competition out turns into a welcome mat for as many stores as we can attract. It would even save the former Belleville Hotel if we had more visitors.
Joseph M. Reichert