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Historic store has seen better days

It's about time someone spoke his mind about the dire condition of the downtown Meier & Frank (Is M&F ready to bolt from downtown? Dec. 23).

After moving here a few years ago, I was surprised at the embarrassing condition of this 'flagship' store. The place is abysmal and depressing. The racks and displays are old and tired, the lighting is bad, and the carpet is torn and ripped on many floors. And they wonder why their sales numbers are so poor?

The mayor had every right to make comments about the store's appearance. Downtown Portland deserves better, and if M&F will not make the investment for improvements, the city can find another large retailer that will. Good riddance, Meier & Frank!

Cecilia Campa

Southwest Portland

Downtown store could-and should be great

Some of the problems that the May Co. faces while it ponders whether to invest in the downtown Meier & Frank store have nothing to do with seismic upgrades or competition with malls.

If I had a moment with May Co. executives, I would ask them the following: First, have you considered spending some money to make sure the restrooms are clean and properly functioning? The men's room on the 10th floor is and has for years been nastier than a bus station restroom.

Second, would it hurt to have more than two elevators working during peak times? The lines of families (key customers?) with children in strollers waiting to visit Santa clogged up the jewelry section earlier recently as four of the elevators were out of service.

Third, if you expect the downtown store to perform, why not make sure the shelves are adequately stocked?

The downtown store has a special place in the hearts of many Portlanders. Santaland, the holiday parade, the venerable Georgian Room and the timeless architecture of the building all combine to create an experience that can't be found in a mall setting.

While it would be difficult to compete with the mall stores in regard to dollars per square foot, can't you at least keep the store as clean and functioning as its mall brethren? Make the downtown store a special place to shop. Pride yourself on your selection, your customer service (which is pretty good to begin with) and the environment of your building. Customer service and satisfaction are the key components in building a loyal following for any business.

The recent expansion of New Seasons Market shows that superior customer service and excellent product can succeed in the highly competitive arena of supermarkets. It would be nice to see the downtown Meier & Frank experience success by following the same model.

Steve Nims

Northeast Portland

It took an insider-to point out the perks

Thank you for writing a very important article about the reservoir boondoggle, and hurrah for Kevin Kohnstamm for pointing out what many Portlanders have begun to suspect but couldn't know, because we're just the citizens: Deals and decisions are made in P-town based not on what the citizens want, but on what an elite in-crowd deems worthwhile (Insiders helped get reservoir reprieve, Dec. 12).

Citizens can (in some cases) speak their mind, but the City Council doesn't really care what they have to say, and in any event it carries minimal weight.

I'm not so naive as to think the backroom deal hasn't always been the way things were done, but neither am I so cynical and jaded as to think it is the only way things can be done. I still want to think that PDX is 'The City That Works,' not 'The City That Works You Over,' but it takes more than a cute slogan.

I was disappointed that the article did not mention the contract connections to which Tribune columnist Phil Stanford has alluded to in this reservoir fiasco. A no-competition 'bid' process? That alone is enough to invoke a recall petition for anyone in city gummint even remotely associated with the project; if it isn't graft, favoritism and corruption, it's close enough to stink like it.

Ray Horton

Northeast Portland