Decay…really?

Discover Stillwater

There has been lots of conversation lately downtown Stillwater about the word decay.
.
The word was brought up at a City Council meeting a few months ago.
.
It was said that our downtown was in a state of decay.  Decay is a pretty serious word and words are powerful.
.
Decay = fester, descend, decline, ferment, mortify, rot, putrefy
.
Wow.   That sure sounds serious.  Especially during a City Council meeting.
.
Sure, like most Main Streets in America, our Main Street has had a rough 15 years.  The big box retailers up on the highway have made shopping more convenient, get everything in one shopping trip.  I get it.  It hasn’t just happened in our town, it’s happened in hundreds of small towns all over America.  Throw that in with the recession and you’ve got a recipe for small business trouble.
.
Some long time locals will say they miss a pharmacy, a furniture store, a butcher shop.  I don’t blame them for not coming downtown anymore. There used to be a daily reason for them to come.  They could come to get prescriptions filled, diapers, and aspirin.  They used to stop at Brine’s and get brats and meat and deli.  It’s not necessary for them to come downtown anymore.  That’s what’s changed.
.
It’s not because there aren’t great things downtown.  It’s not parking or traffic.  It’s not because businesses downtown aren’t working hard enough.  It’s not because the Chamber, the IBA and the City aren’t working together.  It’s not because we don’t have fancy lit up buildings or great signage.  It’s not any of that.  It’s just the way it is.  Downtown Stillwater will never be the way it was and some residents that remember the way it was, when there was a pharmacy and a furniture store, simply won’t be satisfied.  And that is ok.
.
Many residents and visitors love downtown Stillwater.  They know how to get downtown, they know where to park, they don’t worry about traffic.  They come downtown to enjoy an experience. They come to buy baby gifts, t shirts, yarn, cooking supplies, olive oil, tea, spices, a new dress, a new purse, a kayak, school shoes, wedding presents, wedding dresses. They eat on patios and have ice cream in the park.  They have drinks in long time established pubs and they check out brand new ones.
.
We love local shoppers.  Locals are important to keeping downtown thriving year round.  And every day I thank a local for shopping in my store on Main Street.  But I also thank my Wisconsin regulars and my Minneapolis and St. Paul regulars and the visitors from California, Washington State and Iowa.
.
We need to remember that downtown will never be the way it was.  It will never provide absolute necessities again.  Those things are found in more abundance at big box retailers.
.
What we can and do provide is a great boutique shopping and dining district.  A place where people feel at home and welcome.
.
What we can do is stop using words that tear down our town.  That make us look bad, that make us feel bad.
.
Use your words wisely.  People are listening.
.
I prefer to say that downtown Stillwater is in a state of ascent.
.
ascent = climb, lift, rise, scale, spring.
.
Better right?

8 Responses to “Decay…really?”

  1. Jackie Pearson says:

    Rock on, Aimee!!

  2. Jeanie Chambard-Orth says:

    You can never find a uniqueness in a big box store that is found in DT Stillwater. If the shops continue to offer something different and interesting and affordable, they will always have a clientele. I love the feeling of Main Street Stillwater!

  3. Julie Kranz says:

    Downtown Stillwater is still my favorite downtown and Main St. I have the fondest memories of all you described…walking down the hill with my grandfather, to have lunch at the lunch counter with my grandmother, at Reeds, where she was a longtime employee. And I keep those memories very close to my heart…but, I still love visiting Stillwater…love all the shops…the hustle and bustle of tourists…the great dining to experience! And yes…I thank the locals who keep it going so I always have Stillwater to come back to, for remembering and have a positive experience. It doesn’t hurt that “Darn Knit” happens to be my favorite yarn shop!

  4. Linda Peterson says:

    Nice article, but sorry – for me, a local, born here, still live here – -it IS the parking and traffic. I’m not young anymore and don’t want to walk from the Lowell Inn Parking garage to Luna Rossa in the evening. That would have been the case last week, when I was trying to meet friends at Luna Rossa. It was a loose meeting, not a obligatory gathering – they were going to be there, a “come on down” sort of thing. I did “come on down”. And after driving around for 15 minutes to find something closer than the parking garage….getting stuck for several minutes behind the pedal beer bicycle….I saw Chilikoot hill – zip – up the hill and back home I went. I actually saw folks parking on 3rd street, the Veteran’s lot was full for a wedding…and they were walking down the hill to Main St. I do enjoy the nice shops downtown, and the pleasant eateries. White Bear offers very similar venues – I go there often, they have very easy parking -close to the shops. But I won’t go downtown Stillwater on an evening again – maybe in the day, maybe midweek!

  5. Aran Butler Jackson says:

    Aimee, you are my hero. And Julie Kranz, you are right on! My return trips to Stillwater are too few and far between these days. I appreciate the memories of what was there, and I appreciate ALL the things available there now, especially DKA!

  6. Karen says:

    Interesting post! As a non-Stillwater resident (but from a small town), I can empathize with the worry about the big-box retailers. In my opinion, Stillwater has done a pretty great job keeping a mix of retail and restaurant venues, along with a lot of charm. The only frustration I ever have when I come is the parking and traffic. Has there ever been any kind of discussion about having a trolley/tram that circulates between parking lots – some that are up the hill and hard to walk to for older folks, for example? Similar to the off-site shuttles for the state fair (but smaller in scale, obviously) so that you can reliably park up the hill, jump on the shuttle, get a ride down, spend an hour or the day, jump on the shuttle and get a ride back to your car? I would LOVE that.

  7. jeri slachta says:

    Great comment and so true. Having a business downtown for 40+ years, I’ll admit it was a challenge. We had to reinvent ourselves a number of times but it was so worth it. Miss the loyal local and tourist customers.

Leave a Reply