Once upon a time, I started writing this column to help promote local businesses and encourage people to shop locally. Over the years, it has evolved into a bit of a diary of the chaos and insanity that tends to be my daily life. Despite that, I’ve done my best to remain true to my original purpose, and I feel like I’ve done a decent job of that. The last year, as you might imagine, has made it a bit challenging to stay the course of my original intentions. How do you promote local businesses and encourage people to shop locally when we can’t leave our houses, and everything is shut down?
Lately, however, I’ve seen some real glimmers of hope. Two weeks ago, on what was maybe the single most perfect weather day ever, I saw a vibrant, bustling downtown start to peak its head out from beneath the COVID comforter. The Artisan Market coupled with Kidz Fest gave people a reason to visit downtown and gave businesses that are normally closed on a Saturday a reason to open. The sun was shining and you could literally feel the optimism in the air. People brought their dogs so there were plenty of puppy snuggles to go around; Moonshine opened early for those looking for an adult refreshment and Fossati’s treated everyone by opening for lunch. Local artisans offered some truly amazing and unique treasures and reminded everyone that there is something really special about an original painting or a book written by a local author.
As you may not know, the city is in the midst of preparing a Downtown Master Plan. This is just one of the many master plans in the works. I encourage everyone to go out, learn about what this plan looks like, and voice your opinion. Make it known what you would like to see in our downtown. For me, it is more retail and more after-5 p.m. options, and more affordable living spaces around and near the square. Yes, clearly I am partial to downtown, but in my defense, I live and work down there so I have some incentive to be.
I will leave you with this. As Jeb and I sat at a little bistro table on Main Street, chatting with people walking by and eating lunch from Fossatti’s, a restaurant that has a deep connection with people who previously lived in our home, we felt hopeful. Hopeful that things are finally turning around. Hopeful that we have learned valuable lessons over the last year and will carry them with us going forward. And hopeful that the big dreams we have for our little town might someday become reality.