Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Small Town Takeover

When you're here, you're home.
The Red Barn restaurant

Not everyone lives in a small town. Those of us that do know both the up and the downsides to small town life. The perks are huge. People know your dogs, your kids, and are always looking out for their well being. There are lots of community events, both at the schools and through the town hall, that are either free, or that benefit some aspect of the town. 

I've noticed that, lately, things here are starting to change. Our post office is nothing like what it used to be. Just a year ago, it was a place where people talked as they waited in line, where the clerks knew the locals and would talk to them about their lives, asking how they've been, and sharing stories. I knew that when my letter crossed the desk and went into a bin, it was in good hands.

Now, though they still manage PO boxes and take mail, our mail goes to a neighboring town where it's sorted and put on the truck to go to Newark. It used to be that when I'd send mail in town, it would be there the very next day. It went from my hands to the post office and then out for delivery. Now, it leaves and goes to the neighboring post office, and then to Newark? Ridiculous, and what a waste of gas. While it would be just as easy for me to drop at a friend's house, I like the idea of sending stamped, postmarked mail, and it saddens me to know that, despite my efforts to save our post office, this has happened. I miss my old mail carrier, Rob, who stood with me while I was on the phone with my doctor waiting to see if I had a brain tumor, and who hugged me as I cried tears of relief and said, "I'm okay". I miss going into the PO building and listening to Ferdie sing, or chat with Gabi as she would go through my packages. Alas, the wheels are in motion.

There are other things that could slip into the same role, if we don't pay attention, and I think it's important that we guard them. Our police department currently has dispatch (I think) during the day, but on the off hours, our calls go to another town, 20 minutes away. This was done in an effort to save money. I miss calling and asking who's on, when I have a less than emergency call but just need a little help. Fortunately for us, our police officers are still widely available and helpful, and have an active knowledge of our community. They talk to the kids as they walk home from school, and are sure to be familiar with residents in town. On Halloween, the town closes streets to car traffic so that kids can walk without worry while trick or treating. The police are here to help redirect lost children, answer questions, and let the kids know that they are here for them.

We have a great pharmacy here, too, that's independently owned. The pharmacy, Preston Drugs, will deliver your prescriptions to your home (or your car, if you prefer) so you don't need to get out in bad weather or if you are sick. Still, people choose to go to big box pharmacies, which I don't understand. Now that A&P is closing, the opportunity for people to move their prescriptions to a local, smaller drugstore is available (don't allow them to transfer to Walgreen's just because they'll do it for you, please). Preston has a tab on their website that will help you transfer your prescriptions. Another local option is Main Pharmacy in Boonton. Though I am not familiar with it, it's been in town forever and is a favorite of many locals.

Small shops are what keeps the American dream alive. Say what you will about that dream being dashed -- I know what you are thinking -- but this is still our country and we have the power to make big changes.

Instead of going to chain restaurants, go to indie owned places. We have some great restaurants around here, including Hapgood's in Mountain Lakes, The Reservoir Tavern (locally known as the Res) in Parsippany, Matta Donna in Boonton, and both The Red Barn (breakfast and lunch) and 900* in Towaco.  Rather than shopping online or at the mall, take your business to great places like Simplify Marketplace, which is owned by ML resident Beth Moran. They have pretty much everything you'll ever need, including home goods, personalized stationary, hand made items, jewelry, accessories, Laker apparel, and baked goods. In Denville, you can get home goods and ladies' apparel at two shops on the same block, owned by the Olenowski sisters: Surprises In Store, and Sisters. For footwear, I personally love Shoe & Sneaker Barn (also in Denville). The point is that there are so many opportunities to support our small towns that it would be silly not to. 

And finally, if you are able, please mail cards! Notes, birthday greetings, holiday greetings. Maybe our post office is changing, but let's not allow the art of letter writing/card sending fall by the wayside.

It's so important to nurture and support the places and people that bring joy to your life. Look around and see what it is that you love about the place that you live, then be sure to put your attention there. It's truly the little things, that we sometimes overlook, that we would miss the most if they were gone. Be proactive and keep them strong. Shop local.


  1. I couldn't agree more!! Well said, and some great places you gave shout-outs to!

    1. Thank you so much! They are a few of my faves!

  2. Don't forget the Plaza Restaurant in Del's Village !! Family owned for over 26 years!!☺

    1. Oh, how I love the Plaza Restaurant! I should not have forgotten. It was our home away from home during Sandy!

  3. GREAT Blog post!!!!! I love& miss ALL the small shops & businesses! Even small food places like Roma's Pizza :)