Heeding the paradox of choice in exurban planning

Big box stores, such as Target and Walmart, are beginning to re-think the way they do business by providing fewer products instead of more.

They’re heeding the theory of the paradox of choice, which states that contrary to popular belief, more choice doesn’t lead to greater happiness. Instead, too many choices overwhelm a customer, making them spend so much time agonizing over which item is best they are eventually dissatisfied with the whole experience, including the resulting product.

Why is this good news for Baldwin?

For one, it’s more proof that industry in Baldwin doesn’t need to try to compete with industry everywhere else. Small town businesses don’t need to have the variety of big boxes if they choose to focus on quality items and making the entire experience satisfying instead.

On a broader scale, it makes me think about land use in Baldwin. For some there is a temptation to model suburban and exurban development after metropolitan development. To make sure everyone has everything they want in close proximity to where they live.

But being mindful of the paradox of choice, perhaps it’s better to think more about what people need and how the topography of Baldwin interacts with that, than providing them with everything they think they want.

Yes, good development puts people in walking distance of area assets, but Baldwin’s assets aren’t just future stores. They’re open spaces, wet lands, trails and the absence of the overwhelming amount of man made buildings you find in cities or suburbs like Maple Grove.

What assets do you see in Baldwin and how can the township use those as it moves forward?

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