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The Tentacle


July 9, 2003

Downtown Frederick Businesses Missing The Boat

Mike Kuster

My family and I recently headed to Historic Frederick Town for a Friday evening stroll through the streets and shops and to peruse the shelves of the C. Burr Artz Library. To our shock and dismay, the only businesses open were restaurants, bars, and Colonial Jewelers.

Our first stop was the library. CLOSED! The C. Burr Artz Library closes at 5 P.M. on weekends, but is open until 9 P. M. on weekdays.

This seems a bit odd. Where are all of our fresh, young minds reading and studying on the weekends? I imagine there would be high demand for a library to be open past five o'clock on the weekends.

While I have the utmost respect for the director of our county libraries, I question the use of a "world-class library system" that closes at five on the weekends.

Next, we walked up Market Street to Third Street and back to Carroll Creek. We walked up Patrick Street to Carroll Street and back to the Carroll Creek Parking Deck. The only businesses we found to be open were Colonial Jewelers (Kudos to Jeff and Patti Hurwitz) and Classic Cigars & British Goodies.

This writer is no expert in business, but it seems downtown shops are missing a cash crop in the flocks of visitors to the historic district on weekend evenings.

There were literally hundreds of people milling the streets. They were waiting for tables in restaurants, strolling the streets, and looking quite bored with no place to shop while they waited and after filling their stomachs.

Let's look at the demographics of these diners and strollers. Most of these people have money. Otherwise, they'd be eating elsewhere. They are interested in the success of downtown businesses. Otherwise, they'd be eating elsewhere. They enjoy the beauty of downtown. Otherwise, they'd be eating and strolling elsewhere.

So, why in the world were Colonial Jewelers and the British goods store the only retailers we found open?

Don't most people shop in the evenings and on the weekends?

Aren't most people at work throughout the weekday hours these businesses are keeping?

After our stroll downtown, we went to several shopping centers to buy baby supplies. We found every store packed full of shoppers. There were millions of dollars being poured into the pockets of the retailers in Frederick's shopping centers. In fact, we saw quite a few people shopping that we had seen downtown.

It seems a lot of business is lost on Friday night downtown. People want downtown to flourish. Perhaps the shopkeepers are shooting themselves in the feet.

If having the C. Burr Artz Library downtown as a way to draw people downtown, perhaps it should be open when people want to come downtown.

If downtown retailers want to compete with the behemoths in the shopping centers, perhaps they should be open when people want to shop.



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