Saturday, February 7, 2009
The Carmel Pine Cone began warning against the danger of a chamber as early as 1928. A chamber of horrors? A torture chamber? No, a Chamber of Commerce! The Pine Cone called it the "trademark of Babbitry." Then in November of 1931, in the depths of the depression, the paper reported that 40 business people had the temerity to consider the formation of "an organization to expound the charms of the village to the world." The paper noted that "despite the fact that at least half of Carmel's stores are owned by women, only one, a writer at that, braved the dangers of attending the session." Mayor Herbert Heron called the chamber idea ridiculous and said that "the merchants are cutting their own throats." One resident warned that if the chamber were established, people would call the town "Commercialism-by-the-Sea". A week later the Los Angeles Times reported that it was not surprising that Sinclair Lewis was about to take residence in Carmel now that the "charming little city has voted down a proposal for the establishment there of a chamber of commerce." The paper noted that "artists and authors...pooh-poohed the idea of commercial exploitation and would have none of it." A Carmel Business Association had been formed three years earlier in 1928 but it was organized to improve the city, not to be a booster organization. In 2003 the Carmel Business Association was renamed the Carmel Chamber of Commerce, 75 years after the controversy started.