Alex and Ani wasn’t the only Rhode Island company with a commercial on national television this weekend. The costume jewelry company paid more than $3 million for an ad during the Super Bowl while CVS got a free plug on Saturday Night Live.
Both these Rhode Island powerhouses will clean up on Valentine’s Day, but what is even more interesting that CVS and Alex and Ani also both represent the two different kinds of flagships for a neighborhood economy. CVS traffics in convenience and Alex and Ani traffics in style, but one business model or the other usually anchors any successful enterprise zone – be it a Main Street or elsewhere.
But I think the Saturday Night Live spoof on CVS was more honest about that company’s business model than the message Alex and Ani paid local film maker David Bettencourt, senior cinematographer at Seven Swords Media, shot the commercial”to craft for them.
Alex and Ani isn’t helping to revive any Main Streets. It’s locating stores on already successful Main Streets. Here in Rhode Island, there are Alex and Ani stores in Wayland Square, Newport and East Greenwich. But there is not an Alex and Ani in West Warwick where Bettencourt shot scenes for the commercial and where company CEO John Feroce grew up.
I’m not suggesting there Feroce should put an Alex and Ani store in downtown West Warwick (though it certainly would certainly help the city’s economy more than it would hurt the company’s profit margin). But it sure does seem like a great argument for state aid to struggling cities if you ask me.
Think about it: West Warwick fits the bill for educating Feroce when he was growing up, but when he becomes a job creator he does so in East Greenwich and pays property taxes on a home he owns on Bellevue Avenue in Newport. That all works out great for East Greenwich and Newport, but not so much for West Warwick. This is Main Street revitalization only if you are okay with the West Warwicks of the world being left behind.