To the editor:
During the recent City Commission race, we heard lots of talk about our thriving downtown, how it is one of the city's greatest assets. I take issue only with the thriving part. On the surface, downtown does look healthy, but looks can be deceiving. Just ask a local merchant. Many unique shops remain, but for how much longer? Some go for hours, a whole day even, without making one sale.
No, these aren't just charming storefronts put there to make Massachusetts Street look like a Disney set. They are stores with real people inside with real bills to pay, stories to tell and wares to sell. No matter what your theory about the cause - Internet sales, an anemic economy - if people don't choose to purchase things from stores, those stores eventually close. Each time you find a way to rent a DVD or buy a piece of cloth, a CD, a book, a frying pan, a pair of shoes someplace else instead of from a local merchant you put one more nail in the coffin.
Lawrence residents rightly speak about downtown with pride, as if they own it. But when you own something you have to take care of it.