2012-07-19 / Letters to the Editor

Don’t take hardware store for granted

The nature of my job constantly reminds me of the quality of life we enjoy living on this island. As a rental agent at Island Realty, I work with clients who, for various reasons, are interested in renting in the general area. Those who are moving for a length of time, which in many cases are military families coming to the Naval War College, often travel here to search for the right area and home. Typically, I drive them around and find myself seeing Jamestown through their eyes. You may have had that same experience when showing the island to out-of-town family or guests.

In particular, the sense of smalltown life and community, as embodied by the village, always impresses them. One stoplight, no strip malls, no franchises (except the gas stations) and no big box stores. I always see a grin on their faces as I point out Baker’s Pharmacy and Jamestown Hardware. Most towns have lost their locally owned pharmacy and hardware stores to the impersonal national chains, and thankfully, our geographic isolation keeps them at bay.

If you work off the island, I suppose it’s convenient to stop at Home Depot or CVS on the way home, but it’s revenue that’s lost to our local businesses. On weekends, it’s very convenient to pick up a few small items without needing to drive off island, but is that enough to sustain these businesses?

For Jamestown Hardware the answer is unclear. The slowdown in island construction has taken its toll, as did the disruption of last year’s sidewalk and road improvements to Narragansett Avenue. I hope it will survive, but I would prefer to see it thrive and be passed down to several more generations. They are certainly deserving of that, however, it will take a conscious effort from all of us to think of them first when the need arises. The amount of inventory they stock is impressive and the service is always miles ahead of the hollow big boxes. If they falter we’ll not only lose the convenience, but more importantly, that small-town feel from another time that makes living here so gratifying.

Dan Shapiro Mount Hope Avenue Jamestown

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