Brattleboro’s Big Shift To… ???

Brattleboro is undergoing a major shift, with many long-running and well-known entities exiting stage left, and some new projects are bubbling up. Here are just a few examples:

– Sam’s closing. 

– MT Bank closing.

– Josh Davis leaving Groundworks.

– Cor Trowbridge leaving BCTV.

– Lee Bradford leaving Co-op.

– Rescue Inc tossed by the selectboard.

– BFD will run ambulances.

– WVEW moves to Harmony Place.

– Renaissance Jewelry closed.

– Whetstone Brewery, etc. for sale.

– Hatch Space building at High Green has new energy.

– New train station coming.

– Flower program won’t have Dick Degray.

and I’m sure you could think of other items. It’s not unusual to have changes like these, but it is a bit unusual to have so many big shifts in such a short period of time. 

It isn’t entirely clear which direction things are heading, either.  Big empty spaces downtown are worrisome. Losing good leadership can be stressful. But changes can also be healthy and bring new ideas and perspectives. Whatever the outcome, Brattleboro has some questions to consider on the topic of downtown:

– How should downtown, especially the lower half of Main Street, reinvent itself?

– What does downtown most need?

– Who do we want downtown to attract and serve?

– When is downtown for people who live here and when is it for tourists?

– Should Gallery Walk be renamed, since there are so few galleries?  : )

Comments | 9

  • Palimpsest

    Pop Fictionary: Which is the real definition?

    1. Underlying content fades away and something new is inscribed on top of it
    2. Friends with benefits
    3. The faltering gait of a newborn goat which in hours becomes steady
    4. A freshly paved traffic circle with no available exits

  • Needful Things

    We need services. Shoe repair. Dry cleaning. A downtown pharmacy. A place to dance. A dive bar. And since I’m dreaming, bring back Baker’s, or another stationery/Hallmark/newspaper/magazine store.

    • Needful indeed

      Good list, annikee. And although no one would want to take it on, how about a laundromat downtown for those of us who have to figure out how to schlep laundry via bus or by foot?

      • Laundry and service

        Yes!!! Years ago when I was working 2 jobs 6 days a week, I brought my laundry to the Elliot St laundromat, where they washed, dried, and folded affordably. Does anywhere do that now?

    • Zone for it!

      It would be interesting for our Planning Dept/Boards to come up with a “needful things” zoning district. Lower Main Street would be a prime candidate.

  • more on Sam's

    Sam’s closing is a really big deal.

    Not only will it leave a gaping hole on Main Street, but it will add to the emptiness of Flat street, put lots of people out of work, and eliminate a “destination” for people who travel to Brattleboro. Not to mention, no more free popcorn. (That machine should be saved and preserved and operated somewhere downtown!)

    I keep circling back to the meetings where Selectboard and town officials kept pushing the 1% sales tax and Pal and other downtown business owners would tell them that adding that 1% tax could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Don’t do it, or we may close, they told us. Town officials said that was a lot of hot air and needless complaining.

    The 1% sales tax didn’t lower anyone’s property taxes for any length of time. (It meant the Town could budget for 1% more.) But it did help push Sam’s out.

    • Correct

      You’re absolutely right. Any tax that is passed is pre-spent so to speak. Here’s another example. Just when will we see the benefit of the 14% sales tax on marijuana sales? 20 million is the figure I’ve seen. Where’s that money? Why are the roads still terrible? How about our DMV fees? They haven’t come down.

      • every time I've bought at a dispensary the tax assessed has been 21%

        Further the quasi-cartel system keeps prices high even as growers complain about oversupply.
        A reasonable market would respond with lower prices.

  • Worried about downtown

    Since I’m not in the best mood today, here’s my sole comment (pardon my cheerlessness in advance)

    – When is downtown for people who live here and when is it for tourists?

    And when is it for burglars, thieves, vandals, and others in the “crime community”?

    But seriously, practical businesses are great — there used to be more of them. And (almost) anything is better than empty storefronts. We goes through this every so often and it usually takes quite a while for those vacancies to be filled. Not sure what else can be said. Brattleboro worries me these days.

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