At least that is what it was originally called back in the early days. Now it is called Wilde Lake Village Center. I have been thinking about Wilde Lake quit a bit lately. Wilde Lake Village Center and I go way back.
Wilde Lake is only the latest village center to lose a grocery store and once again there is outcry throughout Columbia of the need to "save the village centers" by replacing the grocery store and making the village center whole again.
I'm not so sure that this is a good idea.
The Giant grocery store in Wilde Lake was the smallest grocery store in Columbia. It was arguably the worst grocery store in Columbia too. It wasn't always so of course. I remember when it was the first grocery store in Columbia and the village center was a vibrant marketplace with a butcher shop, a cheese shop and even a bookstore.
I also was a patron of the Wilde Lake Giant in the more recent years. The store had an uncanny knack for always being out of what I was looking for. Once they were even out of chicken. What kind of grocery store runs out of chicken?
Now it is gone but interestingly enough the village center still attracts me as a shopper. David's Natural Market is where I regularly purchase my daughters vitamins. I make a special trip to visit Produce Galore for their excellent produce and some of the best sandwiches in town. The only place I buy my running shoes and running apparel is Feet First. I have patronized these stores much more than I ever did the Giant and I still do even though I now live in Ellicott City. The absence of the grocery store has had no impact on my Wilde Lake shopping.
The thing is, demographic patterns have shifted such that a village centers retail role should probably be rethought, especially the older ones like Wilde Lake. Peoples tastes have changed. The modern grocery store is at least four times as large as the Wilde Lake Giant was and they are designed to serve a much larger population base than that of a Columbia village.
Soon, a Wegmans will open in Columbia (not in a village center) and the village center/grocery store model will be challenged yet again. It is time to rethink the village center retail model.
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