2022 is off to a worrisome start with the pandemic but I strongly believe that we need to forge ahead with our 2022 plans at the Better Bennington Corporation (BBC) with the intent of living, shopping, playing, and getting outside. It is very exciting to see new business owners moving forward with the same anticipation of return to some sort of normalcy. We all hope you all remain healthy and safe in the coming year. You will not see me around town without my mask, and while there is not a mandate, I do encourage patrons to wear masks in our shops, restaurants, and everywhere else you may gather indoors.
As many of you know, the Town of Bennington conducted a town-wide survey that touched on just about every aspect of living in Bennington. The town shared the hopes, thoughts and dreams that were submitted with regard to downtown. The three top “asks” were more events programming (coming!), retail businesses, and restaurants. Breaking it down even further, the four retail businesses that got the most attention were a grocery/market, clothing/shoe stores, jewelry stores, and cannabis. People also want more ethnic variety in future restaurants and take-away food choices, as well as a local café.
While obviously the BBC does not control what businesses come and go, it is very helpful to us to know what the community wants when a developer does come along and wants ideas, so it was extremely useful to receive this data from the town. What we can control is helping to get the word out when new businesses are coming in, what businesses are actually already here, and sharing this kind of data with the community. You never know if a jewelry retailer reads this article and finds that they are wanted.
So that brings me to the sharing.
How timely for the community to learn that a grocery/market called The Bennington Community Market is already working to get underway on Main Street. This was the number one “ask.” While the BBC can take no credit whatsoever, it is a pleasure to help share the news that you asked and they answered. The newly formed board has secured a revolving loan from the town and they are actively seeking donations and grants. For more information, contact Board Chair Aila West (firstname.lastname@example.org.) They plan to have fresh local produce, prepared foods, and a bakery, amongst other items you would expect to find in a market.
The Coffee Bar is getting very close to opening their doors to the community just next door to the Bennington Bookshop on South Street. I took an impromptu peek inside and it is absolutely beautiful! The Village Garage Distillery posted that they intend to open early this year. Check out their Facebook page for a sneak preview. Survey respondents also expressed a desire for a THC dispensary. I can say this — there is a current business that is working on their licensing, so do stay tuned.
I, too, would like to have places to shop for clothes within walking distance of my office. Nix Nax on Main Street is a good place to start. Perhaps she will expand if given enough encouragement. The other retail shops that would do well if this survey is truly a good indication is a hardware store, a recreational/sporting goods store, and a bicycle store.
A few suggestions that were made more than once makes me realize that more Bennington residents need to come on downtown and see that what they want is already here. Take a look:
• Drug Store: The Pharmacy, Rite-Aid both on North Street
• Spiritual Shop: Paula’s Rock Shop & Weaving Workshop: 126 Washington
• Yarn Shop: Scarlett Creation: 626 Main Street
• Records: G’s Records and Books: 475 Main Street
• Flower Shop: The Gift Garden: 431 Main Street
• Craft Supplies and Gift Cards: Jay’s Art Shop & Frame Gallery: 113 South Street
Meanwhile if you, my lovely reader, have ideas of specific folks to woo for those types of businesses you desire, send them my way! You never know what can happen and, in my love/hate relationship with clichés, it does take a village.