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.