When my wife and I were deciding where to live in Concord, we had two main criteria – we wanted to be near the schools and within walking distance to downtown.
The school part of the equation was simple preservation. We didn’t want to shuffle our kids back and forth to practices and after-school activities. But we really wanted to be near downtown so we could enjoy life in a small city. We do so as often as we can, and these days it’s hard to walk along the new Main Street and not think about the future.
It’s no secret that restaurants and local business have had to deal with unprecedented challenges in 2020. My concern, though, has less to do with our collective ability to weather the next few months, and more about what comes after that. The emergence of Covid-19 is scary enough. But the takeover of behemoths like Amazon may turn out to be the legacy of the pandemic of 2020.
This holiday season, online shopping is expected to grow at least 33 percent over last year. We all see the value of online shopping – the deals, the ease, the instant reviews. What we don’t see is the slow erosion of the brick-and-mortar world around us. Our local shops just can’t keep up with Amazon. And when fewer people come to shop downtown, fewer go to the area restaurants. That cycle works in reverse, too. If our restaurants can’t lure shoppers downtown, which sadly may be the case this year, local retailers suffer.
So, what are we to do? Well, controlling the unfettered growth of corporate giants like Amazon is likely out of your control. But shopping, eating and living local is not. The future of our downtowns may in fact depend on it.
Steve Leone Publisher