Tag: downtown

You have vitality. You have a downtown worth visiting.
2014.09.18 01:33:35

One thing you hear from people who don’t value downtowns is that the downtown will never again be what it once was…whatever that may be. Gardiner was a thriving mill town with factories, shops, hotel and an Opera House. Will mills and factories come back to our downtown? No. So if that is the only measure of success then we are doomed. Of course those things aren’t the only measure of success. And quite frankly it isn’t what people are looking for in a downtown these days.


I do believe when we look back, we gloss over the realities. People imagine that the businesses in town were always thriving but small businesses have always come and gone. We have records on businesses in our space going back to 1867. In the late 1800’s it was an apothecary and a dry goods store, under four different owners. In the early 1900’s it was a hair goods shop then a shoe store. The photo below shows the entire list to the present for our first floor space.


building history


The nature of being a small business owner hasn’t really changed much. It is risky to start a business. It is an investment of money and time and energy and often people’s lives change. So when a small business closes it doesn’t always mark a failure. Sometimes it simply marks a life change. A shift in how the individual wants to spend their time, money and energy.


Another comment I often hear is, “I thought business X was supposed to save our downtown.” Of course no one involved in any downtown revitalization effort pins the success or failure on one business. There is no magic bullet. A donut shop will not be the savior of our downtown, a restaurant will not be the savior, and an art gallery will not be the savior. But when you begin adding those businesses up, well then you have got something. You have vibrancy. You have vitality. You have a downtown worth visiting.


Each business is a piece of the greater picture. You may not eat a particular kind of food, or you may not find the offerings at a particular shop to be items you want or need. But that is ok. Each business contributes to the whole. I am excited that we have three new businesses opening this month. Progress! Visit each business to see what they offer and support the ones you like. If you want your downtown to thrive make a commitment to buy locally. And if you haven’t already, consider volunteering. I know Gardiner Main Street is always looking for volunteers for events like Swine and Stein. We all have the ability to shape our community.


Tags: Gardiner Main Steet | downtown | revitalization | Swine and Stein

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Renovation Realities
2014.02.08 02:43:26

3rd back to front before after demo copy


We don't only have a business at 263 Water Street, we live here. For the past few years we have said we were living like college students. The things I thought I would have to change immediately (orange trim, a pencil sharpener attached to the wall) I quickly pushed to the back of my mind while we worked instead to prepare the first floor space and then opened Monkitree.


Much of this past year was focused on turning the office space on the 2nd floor into an apartment so we would have somewhere to live while we tackled the top two floors. The second floor is great but now we are crammed in there with all of our belonings while the demolition takes place. The picture above gives you an idea of the extent of the demolition. It is complete. Back to the bricks. The plan is to do it once so we need to do it right. Which means getting a good look at the beams, the plumbing and the electrical. I have no idea how long it will take until the upper floors are our new living space but we are starting to see how that might look and it is pretty exciting. 


Anyone who has lived through a renovation knows it can be stressful and dirty. The demolition portion is wrapping up so the truly filthy part is coming to an end. We have many decisions to make but one we have already made is to keep the space as open as we can. Windows, insulation and some exterior work are first up so that gives us plenty of time to think about how we want to use the space while we try to figure out how we will pay for the next phase...time to get to work!

Tags: renovation | downtown | main street | Gardiner | Water Street

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