Monday, March 02, 2009

My Town Monday - The Ups and Downs

A drive through Main Street shows a sudden and alarming trend - empty store fronts. It's not that businesses here always thrive. Main Street is home to small tourist shops: antiques, a bookstore/coffee shop, a gift shop, ice cream and fudge, an art gallery, toy store, and a shop that sells expensive quilt purses (that it is still there I'll never understand). But generally, the stores that do go out of business are quickly replaced with another try at entrepreneurship. Not so much right now. Several stores, three to be exact, sit empty.

When first we moved here 13 years ago, the town was a destination for those who enjoyed antiques. Little by little by little, the town remade itself into a more diversified small tourist destination. Given Anna's interest in art, we were delighted several years back to see the opening of art studios and the art gallery featuring local artists. In the spring, you'll see groups of (usually) women walking slowly along the street, peering in windows, shopping bags on their arms.

I suppose the fact that someone wasn't waiting for a spot to open up on Main is a sign of the economic times. I am not overly worried. The town has a history of almost "closing up shop" several times, particularly around the time of the Civil War. I believe that the town will weather the downturn, but concerned about what the economy will do to the "flavor". I know that StuffMart and BigGroceryRipOff will survive, but they are white bread, or rather stale toast. Our Main Street makes us unique and interesting.

Go on a virtual journey all over the world. Start with the list on Travis' blog.


David Cranmer said...

I have a friend that runs an antique shop and he says he has a loose change business. If the economy is good and folks have loose change they spend it. Otherwise it can be desperate. I hope the businesses in your town continue to thrive.

debra said...

We have experienced many cycles in the 20 years we have been in business in our town. We have confidence that, in the long run, it will be the little businesses like us that will do fine. We are the ones that provide service and who know our customers. We are the ones who employ people in our communities. We really are the backbone of the economy, I think.

Travis Erwin said...

I love a good main street with eclectic stores. Sadly they are harder to find every day.

Brother Tobias said...

It's happening over here too. Empty windows appearing in high streets like missing teeth. We've lived with the charity shops for a while (I think you call them thrift shops), but it's not just the small stores now, but familiar names at the heart of the town. With internet buying and intense competition from out of town centres they've been teetering on the edge of viability, and the recession has pushed them over.


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