End of an era
As promised, I'm planning a week-long or so photo essay about the current status of the business community in Sharon - reflections on the downturn, the prospects for revitalization, and how small businesses can thrive in small towns. If anyone out there is still reading this (unlikely since I stopped posting months ago) I welcome comments and a dialogue!
So, as not to bury the lede: Trotta's, the supermarket in the shopping plaza, is closing. The owners were in business overall for 61 years, 25 at this site (or so I gather - note that i did no reporting for this "story!") It reminds me so much of my grandparents' clothing store in Salem, Ohio - they had it for 63 years. My uncle carried on for a while after they died, but when he wanted to retire there were no more Hansells who were interested in Ladies Ready-to-Wear, so he closed it. (Actually my sister did end up going into the "family business" but she was too young at the time to take it on, plus she would have never wanted to live in Salem!) The end of an era.
The loss of Trottas now means we have to drive 10 miles for an apple or jar of spaghetti sauce. (We can get milk and ice cream at the ExtraMart, though they carry almost nothing else recognizable as food. Red Bull, that they have.)
I'll be honest: Trotta's wasn't the world's best grocery store, and it was a common sport in town to complain about it - especially the produce department. And I will not mention here some of the encounters I had with surly employees over the years - 99.9% of the time the people working there were perfectly friendly - mostly local teenage girls, all of whom will now have to find jobs - but where?. And I know the Trottas made a point of hiring special needs teens from time to time as well., AND They did a lot to support local non-profits, the food pantry, etc.
Despite the grumbling, I realized, walking through the other day looking for bargains (everything that's left is 25% off) just how much I depend on having it there - how often I've realized in the middle of making dinner that I need a lemon, or a jar of anchovies, or that we're low on juice for the morning. If I had to drive to Freshtown in Amenia, I'd probably just go without.
I have another soft spot for Trottas: when I first moved up here, I didn't know ANYONE. And for the first year, I barely met anyone either - I was telecommuting, going to the city once a week, and my efforts to meet people had mostly fallen flat. Then my daughter was born, and I became desperate to see other adult faces. I made up an excuse to drive to town just about every day, usually because I needed to pick up this or that at Trotta's. Nobody knew my name, still, but they knew hers: she was that beautiful baby with the huge blue eyes, and I was "Abbey's Mom" - an after-thought, but at least I was having a conversation with somebody! So thank you, Trotta's, for helping me keep my sanity during that long cold winter and spring of 1999!
The space hasn't been re-rented yet, and it's impossible to say whether it will be a grocery store again in the future. I did get an email from a friend last night suggesting we all bombard Trader Joe's with the suggestion that they open up here - they're looking for new locations. How awesome would that be! They have ones in Danbury and Hartford - too far to go for groceries - so why not Sharon?? Well, I know why not - they like bigger cities. But we can dream - about Two-buck Chuck, chocolate covered macadamia nuts and all the rest!
Trottas has been the anchor of the shopping plaza, that odd little blob in the middle of town that holds the post office, a couple of banks, a laundromat and a now-empty clothing store. More on the plaza tomorrow.