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Every week we get another dose of bad news for Nantucket. The Even Keel is closing, the MSPCA is shutting down and the Stop & Shop has bought their way into a virtual monopoly by acquiring mid-island land that very well might have provided competition for them.
I understand why the Even Keel is pulling out of their leased space on Main Street. We will all miss Marshall and his staff and the fine service enjoyed, whether on the patio on a warm afternoon, or a cold winter evening when the half-price meals were a great reason to go outside and drive to town.
Gus Thornton must be spinning in his grave about now. He was the MSPCA when I first moved here and for many years after that. Eventually Dr. Thornton went on to be the head of the entire MSPCA. Unlike many executives, he was connected. When I had a problem 15 years ago, he called me back before the end of the business day and made things right. Unlike the head of today’s MSPCA, he wasn’t paid almost a half-million dollars in salary.
The ridiculous edifice made it a sure thing that the Crooked Lane operation was sure to put them into bankruptcy. Enough animal-lovers were found to donate huge sums of money for an over-the-top building. I mean, what was the point of all the glass and an atrium that did nothing but suck the gas tanks dry to keep it heated and cooled, depending on the weather?
Then there’s the Stop & Shop. I tend to do most of my shopping there for several reasons. First, it has a better selection of produce and second, parking at the Grand Union is difficult at most times. In the summer, well, we know about downtown in warmer months. Once winter sets in, most times during the day, open spaces are at a premium. I shop there, but only when I happen to be in the vicinity and need a few items. People residing in town use the Grand Union, with good reason: no vehicle is needed.
I am tilting toward using the GU more in the future, knowing that the Stop & Shop bought their way into a goldmine. This is one more local institution we need to keep functioning downtown. Some of you may remember that there was a time when the Finast (now Stop & Shop) was located on Main Street, as was the A&P and Charlie’s Market.
Main Street may be one of the 10 Great Streets for 2011, but as we know, most of the businesses along there have little to do with Nantucket and more to do with having the location on their shopping bags. Main Street is great because of the people that inhabit it and those who hang out there. There are beautiful brick sidewalks, leafy trees, old style benches and familiar faces. What could be better?
David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror