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Shunning the National for the Local

If you've ever been to Scottsdale, Ariz., you can picture what this story is talking about. The downtown is full of mom-and-pop stores hawking Western-themed wares. In some ways it reminds me of Old Town San Diego, except the stores in Scottsdale skew towards Western themes while Old Town San Diego has a Mission feel to it.

The interesting thing the story mentions is that even though there is $3 billion of new development going on, builders of the new projects are eschewing national chains and sticking with local and one-of-a-kind retailers.

From the Scottsdale Waterfront complex, which houses restaurants and large-scale retailers as well as condos, a pedestrian bridge crosses the canal to the partially completed SouthBridge, a series of retail and office buildings notable for the absence of national chain stores. By next year, the development will include seven restaurants. Developer Fred Unger plans to add three more phases to the project, plus a classic hotel, within the next five years.

"People seek the unusual. There's just so much cookie-cutter stuff," Unger says as he strolls through a plaza where 43 events, from outdoor movies to farmers markets to concerts, will be staged each year. In one of the boutique areas, he pauses to leaf through a rack of diaphanous dresses. "It's fun to have this as we become a more sophisticated cow town."

Indeed, there are no plans to jettison Scottsdale's claim of being the West's Most Western Town.

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