Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Ford Dealership in Cow Town

Growing up in Salem, Oregon can be difficult for a teenager who has a full summer on their hands, with nothing to do.  Fortunately, there are plenty of nice swimming holes around the area to visit, and socialize with the rest of the bored-out-of-their-minds crowd.  One such place, to which I make attempts at facilitating a yearly pilgrimage in order to relive my childhood, is the North Fork of the Santiam river.  It is a wonderful place, with plenty of dangerous bridges to jump off of, as well as water chiseled cliffs to dive into crystal blue waters from.  A mecca for those who search refuge from the "busy city life".

This past year, as I drove myself down highway 20 toward the city of Stayton from Salem, I saw something I hadn't quite noticed before.  A brand new Ford dealership in the middle of the country, just outside of Stayton, population: 7,765, and spread out over quite a large area of farm country.

It seemed to me quite odd, that a large Ford dealership would be located in an area that was as sparsely populated.  My first thought was to rationalize the methodology of the higher ups in the company, thinking "cowboys need trucks" --but on closer examination of the dealership, much of their inventory are cars. 

It simply struck me as incongruent for a retail dealership of such massive technology to be located in a place where the "corn festival", agriculture, and farm lifestyles are so prevalent.  This disconnect really made me think about what kind of reasons a large corporate conglomerate such as Ford would even think about putting a dealership in a lowly populated area. 

Then I thought, "this place isn't sparsely populated at all--we're on one of the most well travelled roads in Oregon!  The gateway to the east, and cities such as Bend, Redmond, and Prineville." -However it still struck me as odd... less in a practical sense, because many people DO travel right by the VERY visible lot full of vehicles, so in an advertising sense, they are probably getting their money's worth.

That doesn't excuse the aesthetic blunder which exists, and effectively disrupts a travellers spacey gaze out the window over rolling hills, and beautiful pastures.  See for yourself.


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1 comment:

  1. This is a tremendously important topic, and one that I find very interesting, even if talk of land-use makes most people keel over into unconsciousness. Another really interesting element of this specific case would be to look at the zoning AROUND the business. What we SEE when we pass through this area is predominantly rural, but what a planner or a developer sees is probably quite different. There might be a vision of this area as an urban/suburban space, which is expressed in zoning maps, and which is as "real" as what we see, if not yet as tangible.