I really hate writing this, but it has to be addressed …
What needs to be addressed is the extreme apathy here in Kingston. The attitude that “this is just the way it is in Kingston” that I hear all the time in my store needs to stop now.
Memorial Day weekend was a classic example. According to reports, Woodstock was booming with visitors. New Paltz was booming with visitors. Rhinebeck was booming with visitors. In Kingston, all the shops were closed down — even though we had a parade scheduled to go right down Wall Street. And the reason … because “that is just the way it is in Kingston.” I actually was told “no one opens on a barbeque holiday.” Huh? WTF?
That is absolute B.S. This is not “that is just the way it is in Kingston,” it is the way Kingston “chooses” to be. And it is just not the merchants who are at fault here. The fault lies on many shoulders.
I have heard a lot of “talk” about how we are going to build the tourist base, and in reality there is no reason why Kingston doesn’t have a huge tourist industry — except no one wants to build it and support it. Let me rephrase that — there is a small base that is working very hard to do this, but it has been an uphill battle. However, instead of developing tourist-friendly events and involving everyone, there is constant infighting at City Hall by politicians with personal agendas and out-of-control egos and nothing gets done. Let me repeat that. Nothing gets done. But again I hear, “that is just the way it is in Kingston.”
We are currently witnessing a resurgence of interest in Kingston from outside of the community. In Uptown alone, there are a number of new and exciting businesses opened and opening, but they are all hurting because a) there is no support from the city, b) customers refuse to adjust their thinking and come Uptown to shop (yet a lot of people still like to spout the “shop local” mantra as they drive into Walmart), and c) merchants and businesses seem unwilling to work together to make the situation better. For the record, I also shop at Walmart. I am just selective about what I purchase there. If I can’t buy it from a local business, I will buy it at Walmart. But I make educated purchases.
So what can be done about this problem? Simple. Everyone needs to get on board.
Citizens need to support the businesses that are opening and are open. Don’t assume that someone else is going to support them. Take $10 a week and buy a bar of soap at Edelweiss, or a pair of earrings at Bop to Tottom or Art Riot, pick up that used book you always wanted at Half Moon. Buy your greeting cards at Catskill Art Supply. Check out Teresa’s, Columbia, etc., etc. Ellipse opened last weekend with gorgeous handmade clothes. We’ve got a great new candy store/ice cream shop (Kingston Candy Bar) opening. Check out the many new awesome vintage shops. There is so so so much. But it will be gone soon, if you don’t support it. Come up here on Saturday and Sunday afternoon and have lunch and shop. A lot of the merchants have made the commitment to open on Sundays for the summer from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (although no one really advertised this). If you find yourself needing a gift — buy local.
Merchants need to put more energy into your community involvement. The push to be open on Sundays this summer is great — but I have not seen one single merchant announce it on their Facebook page. Yes, there will be an advertisement in the Kingston Times this week, but the reality is we are living in a digital world. You have to let people know via your website and Facebook page. If you don’t have a Facebook page, shame on you. It’s free and simple. How many people are actually aware that stores are going to be open on Sundays from 11-3 during the summer?
City Leaders. Seriously, get over yourselves. We need to make Kingston great — we are not your little personal domain to support your private and personal agendas. Take an hour and write down all of your silly personal agendas and issues, tear them up and flush them down the toilet. We didn’t hire you for you to act like high school bullies. And to be honest, none of us really care about your personal issues. We want results. Get over yourselves. I’ll say it again. Get over yourselves.
So the choice is, do people here want a great Kingston or do you want to be the generation that destroyed Kingston? The beautiful old homes that have been maintained for centuries are falling down because of apathy and greed. Historical places are being lost because of the need for immediate financial gratification. Do you want Kingston to be a place where your kids want to stay when they grow up or be the place they can’t wait to get away from?
This is not a matter of “this is just how Kingston is,” this is a choice everyone in this community needs to make. Do we want success or do we want failure?
Julie Wehmeyer, Kingston
(Editor’s note: The writer is the proprietor of the Edelweiss Soap Co. in Uptown Kingston.)
Love, not war
Just when we started to think that people were enlightened about 17-year cicadas, along comes the Kingston Times’ “World War C” article. The remarkable life cycle of these fascinating insects is a thing to marvel over. I can only think that the people who want to “sell their homes and move to Florida” must also dislike hearing the first spring peepers, and lay awake at night resenting the late-summer crickets and katydids. Harmless to humans, animals, and gardens, the periodic cicadas congregate in the forest singing and mating, kind of like Maverick festivalgoers in days past. They really are beautiful, with their ruby eyes and amber-highlighted lace wings. Please put away your insect poisons, which are harmful to every living thing. PS: Woodstock is not situated within the narrow band of the periodic cicadas, so take a drive into Saugerties or Red Hook across the river and be serenaded by these amazing singers. Celebrate the cicadas — they’ll be gone all too soon.
Carol Zaloom, Saugerties