Sunday, October 26, 2008

From Main Street


Friday morning at 9 am sharp, I drove down Hettinger's Main Street, and pulled up to park in front of Dakota Cabin Quilts. I paused to enjoy the beautiful autumn morning and noticed other merchants arriving at their shops, keys in hand, opening up for the day. Across the street, someone swept leaves from the sidewalk in front of the insurance agency. To the north, I heard the wet sound of a window being washed, followed by the squeak of a squeegee. I gazed with pride at our storefront, our pretty window displays (thanks Ellen!), and saw some of my favorite quilts hanging from the ceiling near the front of the shop.

Our small town is blessed with a vital, healthy, busy Main Street. Hettinger has very few vacant buildings compared to communities of a similar size. Our Main Street businesses include: a grocery store, a variety store, a NAPA, a print shop, an antique shop, White Drug (with great gifts too), a KB Jewelers (with gift and books), Prairie Rose Floral, three hair salons, two banks, three insurance/investment agencies, three bars, two restaurants, and a dry cleaner.
Main Street Hettinger has a couple of great non-profits, including the "Clothes Closet", a second-hand shop staffed by volunteers, stocked with clean, inexpensive clothing and housewares. Profits generated by the Clothes Closet are donated back to the community. And, a few years ago, the Hettinger Theatre Board and local tradespeople came together to build a wonderful theatre in an empty building on north main. On the weekends, the smell of popcorn wafts up and down Main, and local teenagers have a tradition of meeting at the Sunday matinee.
I like to think of our end of the street as the "Arts & Crafts" area, as the Music Studio, Fried Photography/Scrapbook Shop, Wild Crocus Embroidery, and the Quilt Store are clustered together on South main.

Just north of us, the largest building on Main is KMM, a manufacturing company, and the second largest employer in town (after the medical center). KMM is a family-owned high tech manufacturer, based in Kildeer, ND, and one of their regional facilities is in Hettinger. At KMM, workers assemble small components that go into military equipment and air craft, and the company has contracts with Boeing and the US Department of Defense.

The phrase "From Wall Street to Main Street" has been ubiquitous this Election cycle, endlessly repeated by politicians, pundits, and news reporters. There is no doubt that the economic downturn is directly affecting Main Street businesses across the nation. As a business owner, I can't help but worry about the economy. But, as a consumer, I know that I can make a difference by carefully choosing where I spend my dollars. From groceries to gasoline, clothing to housewares, and for holiday gifts, I have renewed my commitment to shopping at the small businesses in our region, and plan to do my online shopping at small specialty e-stores rather than large chains.

If we all work together to support "Main Street USA", we will make a difference.