Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What will the recession do to Main Street?

According to Judy Peet and Jeanette Rundquist, the 234 Main streets in New Jersey are struggling to stay afloat during the recession. With consumer buying power down, businesses are making tough adjustments to their hours and their offerings, hoping to find a formula to make ends meet. On some of the Main streets I visit the "For Rent" signs attest to businesses that have folded. Sales are everywhere. For some businesses, extending hours seems to be the way to meet the challenge. For others, it's cutting back. One shopkeeper in Boonton told the reporters, "We need to work together, but I don't see that happening." Yet cooperation is obviously a key idea. What Main streets have is a rich mix of activities and history. These can be put together in ways that energize the whole surrounding area, making it safer and more fun, at the same time maximizing the turnover of dollars in the local area. This takes imagination and a bit of thinking outside the box. A Main Street business might not think about the neighborhood two blocks over, but those neighbors are certainly thinking about Main Street. There is -- in that possible exchange -- the potential to find a solution that gets all of us through this tough recession.

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