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Sunday, May 6, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Commentary

What Maple Valley residents really need is more shopping options

Special to The Seattle Times

I love living in Maple Valley.

It has almost everything a family could want: fabulous scenery, great schools, a wonderful library and neighbors who are willing to drive you places through the thick of traffic and share an umbrella to watch the Maple Valley Days parade meander down Witte Road.

What Maple Valley doesn't have are the shopping opportunities of Covington, newly flush with Wal-Mart, Kohl's and other stores.

When I want to shop for juice, toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, paper towels, bathroom cleanser, dishwasher soap, bar soap, pretzels, applesauce and fruit snacks, I travel to Covington to the new Dollar Tree, where I know I can get those sundry items, and more, for $1 each.

When I'm shopping for shoes and pants for my growing-like-a-weed 7-year-old, or boxer shorts for my husband, or a new vacuum cleaner for myself, I travel to Fred Meyer in Covington, where I can also pick up all the nondairy items I need throughout the week.

My husband and son shop at Game Crazy in Covington for video games, and I go to Payless ShoeSource for boots and sneakers.

I head to Black Diamond to Baker Street Books if I want to buy a used book. If I want to buy a new book, I either go to Federal Way or shop on Amazon.com.

If I want to see a movie, I've got to hike all the way out to Auburn or Issaquah for a first-run flick, and I have to go to Kent if my son wants to celebrate his birthday at Chuck E. Cheese.

If we need new innards for our toilet or a special bolt for my son's scooter wheel, we might find it at the Johnson's Do-It Center. If not, we have to travel to Renton or Kent to a chain hardware store.

If we want CDs, toys or clothing, we hit Wal-Mart.

My neighbor, Daran Blackwell, thinks I'm nuts to want big-box stores in Maple Valley.

"That's why I left Federal Way and moved out here, to get away from the box stores and the strip malls," Blackwell said. "We wanted to move here to be close enough to get what we needed but far enough away that the big stores weren't in our neighborhood.

"We like the rural look and feel of Maple Valley without having to live in the middle of nowhere."

Back in September, city officials sent a retail-development survey to 9,000 households, and I dutifully filled it out. They wanted to know what kind of stores residents wanted in town.

I wrote that the highest priorities should be a book store, family restaurants and places where residents can buy clothing, shoes and other necessary items, especially with all the families moving in.

A movie theater, bowling alley or recreational center would be wonderful, too.

I am weary of having to spend $3-plus on a gallon of gas to shop outside of town. It would help to have choices right here.

DeAnn Rossetti is a Maple Valley freelance writer: archer34@aol.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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