Tag: revitalization

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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