Please Support Local Stores Because The Sky Is Full Of Vultures

by William Skink

A few weeks ago I stopped in Alberton on my way back from Spokane. Since I was without screaming kids and a wife telling me to JUST GET US HOME, I had time to actually browse the dusty shelves at the Montana Valley Book Store.

In the basement of the store, where you are directed to flip on light switches if you want to proceed further into the depths, I found an old, tattered book by the wife of Bishop James Pike, the man who inspired Philip K. Dick’s book The Transmigration of Timothy Archer.

I have found all kinds of incredible books and other curiosities at used books stores, thrift shops, flea markets and antique malls, but how can many of these places survive the fear that now permeates our lives, making in-person shopping seem to some more risk than it’s worth?

For my own selfish reasons, I don’t want to see stores like this disappear in Missoula. That’s why my book of poems, WELCOME TO THE COVAXICON, can now be found at the Loose Moose, located at 219 N. Higgins in Missoula.

The proprietors of the Loose Moose took over the space formerly known as The Bird’s Nest and have done a fantastic job keeping the spirit of the place alive while greatly improving the range of stuff being offered. Now, in addition to books, you can find vintage clothes, toys, old games and many other odds and ends.

The headwinds against a store like this are significant right now, especially in downtown Missoula, where construction on Higgins bridge is well underway. Without paying customers, stores like this will disappear, and who knows what will replace them.

To give you an example of what I am talking about, the vultures of capitalism are already circling the music venue industry, ready to “save” them from pandemic-related lockdowns. Here’s how one dude envisions keeping music venues from closing indefinitely:

With federal funding looking all but certain to not come in time to save these venues, Marc Geiger sees an opportunity to pitch his solution. Geiger, who formerly served as global head of the William Morris Endeavor Music Division from 2003 until 2020 and co-founded the music festival Lollapalooza, has formed what he calls SaveLive to essentially bail out struggling music venues.

SaveLive, which Geiger founded with former WME colleague John Fogelman, has landed $75 million in an initial investment round to invest in venues across the country by acquiring at least a 51% stake in each. SaveLive’s plan is to invest in dozens of clubs across the U.S. to create a network of venues that will be prepared for live entertainment to hopefully return in 2022 by their estimates.

“One of my favorite things in the world is to go to a club, be treated well and see an incredible band,” Geiger said. “So I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to raise a bunch of money and I’m going to backstop all these clubs. I’m going to be a bailout solution for them, and I’m going to call the company SaveLive.”

This is what vultures do, they see OPPORTUNITY in other people’s misfortunes and, with enough money and the right timing, they can really sink their talons into their prey.

Now, here’s some skepticism about Geiger’s savior option from the same article:

“Geiger’s solution on some level scares me,” Frank Riley of High Road Touring told the New York Times. “He is going to buy distressed properties for money on the dollar and end up owning 51 percent of their business. Is that independent? I don’t know. But it does save the platforms on which things grow and where artists are sustained.”

As an artist myself, one who would like to do poetry readings to a live audience, or have people stumble across my book in a funky store like the Loose Moose, it’s a scary and uncertain time, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to just roll over and let the vultures have at it.

Are you?

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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