west chester growers market at risk! help save the market!

marketAs shocking as it may sound, the Borough of West Chester might do something exceedingly dumb and horrible where the West Chester Growers Market is concerned.  The buzz around Chester County is that they are purportedly considering selling the lot that the market calls home!!!

How dumb is that?

I have been busy and was playing catch up with e-mail when I all but fell out of my chair last night.  I had received an e-mail from Melissa at Applied Climatology LLC – I buy plants from her at the West Chester Growers Market.  Here is what the e-mail said:

Hello Garden Club members!

We received some very concerning news last Friday.  If you are already on the West Chester Growers Market mailing list, then you may have already received this news via the market newsletter.

The borough of West Chester is entertaining offers for the sale of the parking lot where we hold our market each Saturday morning.

I’ve attached a copy of the official letter that the market vendors have composed for you, our valued customers.

Letter_to_the_Public

We hope you will consider writing to your local representatives to let them know what the market means to you. Even if you live outside of the borough, please consider writing these officials, as they need to hear from all of our loyal customers.  The borough website in the attached letter will provide you with both email addresses as well as a general mailing address.

If you are as concerned about the market’s longevity as we are, please contact the borough as soon as possible.

We are grateful for all of your support – past, present and future!

Thank you very much for your time

wc1

Seriously??  Could the Borough Council and Mayor of West Chester be such whores that they would render homeless one of the BEST things about the town of West Chester in fair weather months?  Would they really jettison the Grande Dame of local farmers markets? The market that inspired so many OTHER markets?

fresh veggies

With all the emphasis on eat local, buy local (you know that little thing called the localvore movement) why would West Chester Borough be so dumb?  Is all the borough wants to be known for something like that college party turned riot from last weekend?

The West Chester Growers Market has been a goodwill ambassador and champion of downtown West Chester since before there was a Business Improvement District isn’t that correct?  Speaking of the West Chester BID, what do they have to say? Are they ALSO that dumb that they would be behind a decision that if made would take feet off the street in a town they are supposed to promote and support businesses in?

jam

For Sale, Free, or Trade Chester County has posted a petition on Change.org.  Please consider signing it and sending it along to everyone you know.

This is what the petition letter says:

To: Carolyn Comitta, Mayor Holly Brown, West Chester Borough Council Member Cassandra Jones, West Chester Borough Council Member Charles Christy, West Chester Borough Council Member Jordan Norley, West Chester Borough Council Member Thomas Paxson, West Chester Borough Council Member Stephen Shinn, West Chester Borough Council Member John Manion, West Chester Borough Council Member Staff, Borough of West Chester

Keep The West Chester Grower’s Market at Church & Chestnut Street!
We, the residents in Chester County, would like to ask for your consideration in keeping the West Chester Grower’s Market at it’s current location.  The possible development no matter how high of a dollar figure can’t replace the community out reach that this market has created and sustained for 19 years.
Keep The West Chester Grower’s Market at Church & Chestnut Street!
We, the residents in Chester County, would like to ask for your consideration in keeping the West Chester Grower’s Market at it’s current location.  The possible development no matter how high of a dollar figure can’t replace the community out reach that this market has created and sustained for 19 years.
As residents and fellow business owners, we ask you to sincerely think about our community. The Grower’s Market brings not only families and locals to West Chester, but it brings residents from all over Chester County.  These residents then stroll the streets and patronize the local businesses around the Market.  Local West Chester neighbors have found a sense of community on that lot like no other.
We ask you to reconsider this decision.  When making the decision, think of how many businesses have not be able to sustain and have had to cave to the economy and close in West Chester over the past 19 years, and then think about what it takes to keep something going for 19 years in a town, the West Chester Grower’s Market has pulled it off!  Please do not stop them from Growing!

Sincerely, [Your name]

West Chester Does is also talking about this.  “Market Faces Possibility of Losing it’s Place in the Community” and they provide a link to West Chester Borough’s public officials contact information.  I like to go to the top so let’s start with the mayor:

Carolyn T. Comitta, Mayor

115 S. Brandywine Street
Tel: (610) 692-6521
ccomitta@west-chester.com
Term to expire 2014

I don’t feel like putting up every e-mail as I am a little pressed for time, but go to the web page where you get contact informationContact the borough council members and the Mayor. Sign the petition.  You can politely remind them that a fair number of them are up in 2014. To me it is never too early to start election issues if they are thinking about things as dumb as getting rid of the farmers market.

people

I have to ask is West Chester Borough really poor or something?  They can’t afford to keep this parking lot?  Or are they just that greedy and short-sighted?

I also would like to know what developer wants this lot.  They should be contacted too.  Is this a developer who has also bought up a lot of land in the borough or a new Johnny Jump Up?

Do you all know that some of this market’s vendors do good things like participate in the Pennsyvania Farmers Market Nutrition Program? This program, the  Pennsylvania Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) distributes checks to eligible seniors and Women, Infants & Children (WIC). These checks can be used at participating farm markets and roadside stands to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables which are grown (or are growable) in Pennsylvania.

This market is also about community, and no developer sucking up to a bunch of politicians can really create that except in the false, made for marketing material sense.

Please help save the market!  If you tweet try a hash tag like #SaveTheWCGrowersMkt

Together we can save this market.  It is a shame someone couldn’t buy the lot from the borough and give the market a 99 year lease or something, right?

The other alternative is if you own land this market could move to close to this lot with parking, please step forward.  The easiest and most properly right thing is for West Chester Borough to sit down and leave the farmers market and that parking lot  alone, but in case that doesn’t happen, it would be good to have alternatives that  could save this awesome market.

Thanks for stopping by. it’s a sin truly the way politics can potentially ruin a good thing and tradition like this…..

more market


say it isn’t so west chester! chester county book and music company is CLOSING?

I just read the most awful thing on the West Chester PA Facebook Page :

Coffee Talk: How do you feel about the Chester County Book & Music Company closing down? What are you hoping takes its place? Share your memories and thoughts with us below.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

I just discovered Chester County Book & Music Company within the last year.  Was just there to photograph Teresa Giudice, one of the Real Housewives of NJ in the Bravo reality series land when she had a book signing about a month ago.

A website named West Chester Does which my browser won’t let me open so there must be viruses on it has this to say:

The Chester County Book Company grew from its first size of 1K square feet in 1982 to 28K square feet, making it one of the largest independently owned bookstores in the US. However, the book store is entering into its last chapter; closing. Even though the store stocks over 100K book titles, over 25K music recordings and 5K movies it’s no match for on-line discounters like Amazon.com. For now, the closing date has not been determined. The Chester County Book Company and its 38 employees will continue to serve customers as normal. The owner of the West Goshen Shopping Center; Robbins & Co has agreed to give the book store 60 day notice to leave once the time comes. The book store has been in the community for a long time and many will  miss it.

(Truthfully I wish West Chester Does would figure out whatever it is that doesn’t allow its site to open because it looks like it has a lot of good stuff on it)

Anyway, back to CCB&M.  What a wonderful store!  On the Main Line proper where I used to live, we first saw most of the independent book stores die – one of the only ones left is Reader’s Forum in Wayne.  Then we watched the big box book stores die.  First Barnes & Noble disappeared, then Borders.  If you wanted used or rare books, there were stores to accommodate that need, but until I moved to Chester County, if I wanted a real honest to goodness book store I had to hunt.

When I saw Chester County Book & Music in that godforsaken and truly ugly West Goshen Shopping Center (well it is.  It makes Ardmore West Shopping Center in Ardmore look attractive), it was like I could hear that “taaa daa” sound in my head.  A book store was close by.  And not just a chain, but an independent book store with employees who actually liked and cared about books and weren’t just chain store cash register jockeys.

I gave Chester County Book & Music a call this morning and spoke to someone who is a long-term employee.  They tell me the store will be open indefinitely.They do not have a definite closing date.

I heard a LA Fitness might go there. L A Fitness seems to be springing up all over and they are trying to shove one in the Wynnewood Shopping Center too, and from what I am told residents down there are none too happy.  Chain stores eat small businesses as a far as I am concerned.  They have their place, but nothing can ever replace the place small businesses have in our communities.

LA Fitness is to me like Rite Aid or CVS, as in how many are needed?

We don’t have book stores, but we have tons and tons of chains and big box stores.

In this economy, it behooves us even more than before to support our local businesses. Local businesses are often run by neighbors and friends, or neighbors and friends are employed by small businesses.    Small businesses also help define a community’s character.

So that being said, I wonder.  I wonder if someone in the West Chester area stood up and told the owner of Chester County Book and Music Kathy Simoneaux they had a new location for her if she would consider it?  Maybe smaller, definitely less expensive in the rent category, but could this business be saved?  Maybe not all employees would keep their jobs, but some would and wouldn’t it be worth a shot?

So West Chester.  Think hard.  Who do you know that has a space to fill that maybe this book store could move to?  Seems to me not every retail slot is filled.  Seems to me maybe even along Paoli Pike there might be something? A site for the store without the cafe.  Bookstores don’t need to be in the restaurant business.

And interestingly enough when I asked the employee if that had been considered, the response was “go for it” ….as in it couldn’t hurt.  “None of us want this store to close.” they said.

I don’t know about you, but I love book stores. I love books.  I have done the electronic version, but truthfully, nothing replaces the feel of a book in your hands, or the smell of new books.

Can this business be saved?  I for one would love it. It seems to me when I read the article it is the landlord giving them the boot, doesn’t it?  And if the West Goshen Shopping Center is owned and operated as per newspaper by this Robbins & Co of Bala Cynwyd, is there any connection between the LA Fitness proposed for Wynnewood and the one proposed for West Goshen?  Also important to note, the one in Wynnewood they are trying to get shoved through as being open 24 hours a day and is that something people out here would want?

Here is the article in the Daily Times:

Business

Published: Thursday, July 19, 2012

By GRETCHEN METZ gmetz@journalregister.com
WEST GOSHEN — The Chester County Book Co. & Magnolia Grill on Paoli Pike is looking at its last chapter. The store so familiar to so many in the region is set to close.The space that is the book store and the former neighboring Fashion Bug could become a LA Fitness exercise center.

Kathy Simoneaux, owner of the book store, said her old lease expired in January and the store has been renting on a month-to-month lease ever since.

As for a closing date, “I have no idea when that will happen,” Simoneaux said. “We’re going along business as usual.”…..The landlord will give the book store 60-days notice to vacate when it comes time to move, she said.

The decision to end the lease was “mutual,” Simoneaux said. “It was a 15-year-old lease that steadily increased every year.”

Eventually, she said, the rent got “unbearable.”

The book store moved into the West Goshen Shopping Center in 1987….Casey LaLonde, West Goshen township manager, said land development plans to add space to the shopping center were approved last week. The township won’t know when there will be a change in tenants until the owner of the center applies for building permits.

The new space will be 46,000 square feet, roughly 30,000 square feet from the book store, 12,000-square feet from the former Fashion Bug and an additional 4,000 square feet that will most likely be added in the back of the shopping center, LaLonde said.

“It’s sad to see the Chester County Book Company leave,” LaLonde said. “They’ve been a part of the community for a long time.”

The West Goshen Shopping Center is owned and managed by Robbins & Co. of Bala Cynwyd in Montgomery County.