A V I E W F R O M C H A R L O T T E T O W N , P R I N C E E D W A R D I S L A N D
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It is almost a month since we celebrated Heritage Day at City Hall. This year we had a small exhibit on Corner Grocery Stores. It was a timely subject since downtown Charlottetown had just lost its prime store - the Co-op on Queen Street. Gloriously situated for downtown residents and workers, it seemed not to have a strong handle on who their customer was and the changing demographics of the downtown to say nothing about the changes in culinary needs [more about that latter]. A year ago Frank Zakem did a wonderfully little book on his family and his father's store on the corner of Weymouth and Grafton Streets. It was very popular.. As part of his project he did a preliminary list of other grocery stores in the down town. He had listed 48 and by the time the exibition was over we had a list of 64 and it was obviously growing. Then if we counted grocers the number would almost double since stores changed hands and have almost a genealogy of their own. When we were growing up on Hillsborough Street we had ten grocery stories in a two block radius. Generally you charged at one and they had delivery boys - cute ones like Howard Glover. Over Christmas when my sisters were home, we had a Saturday morning coffee party for the Taweels whose store was on the corner of Queen and Fitzroy. We had shopped there almost all our lives. It was great fun. Saul, Peter and Paul and Dulla came, their wives and some who worked in the store and a lot who shopped there. Everyone enjoyed being together again. That was what it was about those stores were part of your extended family. A couple of weeks ago The Downtown Residents Assoc. had a meeting on the Shopping Crisis in the Downtown [we also lost our last hardward store recently]. Over 60 came out to the meeting. There were no solutions, but a strong consensus that we form an interesting group of consumers with fairly fussy needs and if the hurdle of "buying power" could be addressed, a wonderful useful, gathering place could be added to the downtown. Quality of product, ambience and consistent staff were some of the needs that were pointed out. Parking was an issue, but it sounded to me as if it was a hurdle that was overrated, after all most people live down town because they like to walk to places. City Hall people were there and it is hoped there will be a solution to this problem.
Written Sunday, March 23, 2003 at 02:10 PM