Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Not-so-glad tidings on Washington Street

This used to a flag and costume store.
For 25 years Washington Street in Hoboken has been a favorite place to stroll and shop, especially for Christmas.  It hosted a bookstore, toy shop, chocolate store, knitting shop, clothing stores, favorite jewelry story (Sedona) and more.  Yesterday, in making my annual visit, I was sad to learn from the owners of Sedona that they fear their rent will rise out of sight and they will be pushed off Washington Street.  "It's becoming more corporate," they explained, "with no room for small boutiques."  My granddaughter Lily, who went to school in Hoboken and was on Washington Street every day, explained the changes as we walked along.  It was hard to keep track of them all.  She was a little stunned, I think, that so many landmarks of her childhood were now gone.  Commerce is a keystone of Main Streets, but it is under huge pressure: commerce can be a constant but the mix of stores shuffles all the time.  One historic place -- the old flag and costume store -- had a wreath on the door but was empty inside, waiting for its next iteration.  In the meantime, it was shockingly warm.  While pleasant, the unseasonable warmth is frightening in its implications.  These two processes -- the instability of Washington Street and the instability of the weather -- are linked.  The 64-thousand-dollar question is: What do we do?