Each day, it seems, I read and see more about the relatively new locavore trend. And from my post at work in Rhinebeck Village, my heart smiles as I watch local residents buying from nearby farm stands and farmers’ markets; and I nod happily as many also frequent the neighborhood restaurants and eateries, a good number of which offer menus sourced from local fields and pastures. This is great!
But I can’t help but wonder: Don’t these same folks who eat and drink all these local goodies realize local businesses need their support as well?
I’m sure many local residents see their villages (Rhinebeck at the top of the list, especially on the weekends) thronged with people and assume business is booming. Alas, not necessarily for all the businesses. Thanks to Chelsea Clinton’s wedding (and the occasional write-up in the Weekend Section of the New York Times), Rhinebeck has become a “destination,” particularly for day-tripping tourists. For the most part, though, they come, they walk, they look, they leave… buying little more than a cup of coffee, a bite to eat and maybe a small token of their visit.
I also hear repeatedly from local residents that village shops pander to tourists, offering only expensive wares and weekend-only store hours; and that local residents feel priced-out and pushed out of their own towns. Well, my response is, Nonsense! My gallery/shop is open six-days-a-week, as are most of the shops in town. And while no one appointed me the voice of the merchants in Rhinebeck, I will say most of us pride ourselves on carrying a wide variety of items at an equally wide variety of price points – pretty much offering something for everyone.
So with the holiday season now upon us, I sincerely hope locavores will allow a portion of their gift budgets to be spent in local shops. Sales during the winter holidays pretty much determine the fate of most small businesses. And without local patronage, retail Darwinism will take its natural course.
In ending, I would like to respond to the letter-writer a couple of weeks ago who pleaded that something other than another real estate office or restaurant occupy the long-vacated premises of the former Northern Dutchess Pharmacy: Please, shop your neighborhood stores and help keep us all going.
Owner, EB’s Hudson Valley Finds, Rhinebeck