‘There’s two of everything in Slave Lake,’ a local person once told a new Lakeside Leader reporter on his first day in town. ‘Two pizza places, two car dealerships, two newspapers, two drug stores, two hardware stores, two video stores, two big hotels, two supermarkets.’
How accurate that was we’re not sure. There were probably more than two of a few types of businesses and fewer than two others. Some would say (still do say) there aren’t any of certain desirable things. But back then, a third supermarket had just opened or was just about to, in the new mall. For a while a few years later there were three newspapers. Things have changed. Now there are zero video stores, one newspaper. On the other hand there are more pizza joints and several more hotels. There are way more liquor stores (although one just closed) and we’ve got a hunch in a few months there are going to be several cannabis product outlets. Tattoo parlours seem to be thriving as well.
Some things haven’t changed. The Slave Lake Boxing Club is still going strong, and still with the same coach! There are still three supermarkets, or three again.
The opening of the Cornerstone shopping area was a big change for Slave Lake, That happened in 2004 or thereabouts. It drastically altered the traffic on the south end of Main St. It went from occasional to constant, almost instantly.
The novelty has somewhat worn off, though. There are people who work downtown who don’t want to have to drive all the way down there to pick up a cup of coffee. Nor do they have to. Downtown suffered a blow – as downtowns always do – when all that commercial stuff opened south of the highway. But it has bounced back a bit. There is stuff to see and do. Interesting shops. A coffee shop and bakery that offers a completely different experience than anything else in town.
Not only that, a lot of people are looking forward to the big Riverboat Daze ‘block party,’ this year. That’s a downtown thing, that couldn’t really be done anywhere else. All good. Given how many turn out out for the inaugural block party, there’ll likely be a lot more than two of everything there.