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Editorial: Support what you enjoy

Peter Shokeir | editor@fitzhugh.ca

People don’t appreciate what they have until it’s gone.

Last week, news broke that the Chaba Theatre would be sold and converted into a restaurant.

The news created waves on social media, with some commenters offering their support and others complaining that one of the last indoor activities and cultural attractions in Jasper is closing in favour of another restaurant.

I can understand some of the feelings, particularly when the theatre has existed in one form or another for nearly a century.

But when you look at the economics of it, the small-theatre model isn’t sustainable anymore due to competition from alternative platforms and a reliance on bigger titles—the pandemic merely accelerated the decline.

The biggest recent turnout to the Chaba was for “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” but that kind of title doesn’t come out every month.

At least Jasper can be grateful that the location will remain in local hands and not get handed over to a faceless conglomerate.

A few people have suggested that the Chaba could become a theatre that serves dinner during the movie, but I suspect that kind of model requires a large population base to work.

Most importantly, where were all the complainers when I found myself sitting in a nearly empty theatre on multiple occasions?

I suspect that these complainers (who will remain nameless) like the idea of the theatre but don’t bother to show up when it counts.

It’s the same story with bowling alleys, arcades, clubs and—dare I say it?—newspapers.

People decide to take their business to the big city, fork over their cash to corporate giants or opt for the cheaper-but-subpar option, and then act surprised when small businesses go under.

Some of these closures are due to changes to the market and shouldn’t be attributed to community apathy.

However, if people are so attached to their local businesses, they should actually support them, and not just through lip service and petulant whining.

It’s time. Support your local media.

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Thank you in advance for your support.

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