Monday, January 13, 2020

Main Street USA in Brattleboro VT and Greenfield MA

Sadly, one of my favorite stores in the world - Delectable Mountain in Brattleboro VT - closed its doors on December 31st. You can read an article about it here. Julia and I made our last trek to the store on the 29th. The place was filled with other fabric lovers trying to find their one last piece of incredible cloth to add to their collection. Over the years, my needs for cloth have changed as I wear clothes that are more serviceable than fancy. I have helped keep the store going with my addiction to beautiful Indian shawls, sparkly earrings and beautiful buttons. I looked forward to my yearly Christmas gift of a gift certificate from The Farmer. As I walked out the door the last time with my treasure bag, I couldn't help but tear up. Such a wonderful place full of beauty and lovely humanity. I am going to miss it so much. I hope I run into Jan and her employees again. She did give me hope that she may run some pop-up fabric events. 

Greenfield, Massachusetts is the largest town in our area and where we go to do the things that need to be done. In the very center of town, Wilson's Department Store has been the anchor for 137 years. Walking into Wilson's is like walking into a time warp. When I was a kid, we shopped at a similar place in Morristown, NJ called Epstein's. "Progress" moved faster in NJ than here. Malls began wrecking the retail landscape in the 70's down there. Sadly, Wilson's is closing its doors after all those years. Their survival was possible most likely because the closest mall to Greenfield is a half hour away. People here in Franklin County are also ferociously loyal. I am not surprised that Wilson's is closing -- the retail environment is so difficult for brick and mortar stores now. I can't say I have helped them survive much -- I wear old clothes and make lots of the things I wear. I did love their housewares and kitchen departments and always tried to find what I needed there before going to a big box store. *See below.

All this closing of businesses though gives me cause to think about the future of the small town. How is it going to survive? What is it going to look like? Is this a generational shift of businesses? What is the next generation of local business owners going to do and be and develop? I have never wanted to have a retail business in a town with fixed retail hours. It just isn't for me - I like to be free to come and go and not be tied down to a schedule. I never minded having a job in an office but retail never wooed me. Funny though that I sell things on-line and that doesn't bother me. I like it because I am not beholden to certain hours and corporate overlords. I can do what I want and when I want. 

What do you think about the future of downtowns? What's going on in your downtown? Do you even have one anymore? Do you only shop on-line? Do you not know how to order something on-line. Would love to hear. 

Have a great day everyone.  
*Here is some good news. Our local food coop -- Greenfields Market -- is looking into moving into the Wilson's space. You can read about that here. Greenfields Market is a great little store with a nice bakery and they also sell our lamb! I think it would be a win for our Main Street if this did happen. 


Cynthia said...

Just like Windsor Button and Harrison Textiles both formally in Boston - these harbingers of beauty, dreams and creativity are becoming extinct like the dinosaurs.

Vera said...

So sorry to hear of Delectable Mountains closing. I would stop in whenever we were in VT and could always find some fabric, trim or buttons to purchase. Such a beautiful shop to browse in.

Kathryn Samuelson said...

The yarn store in Woodstock, VT closed. The one in Norwich as well, but someone bought the business and reopened the store. Now the Norwich Bookstore is for sale because the owners want to retire. I hope someone buys it as it would be a big loss to the community.

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