Growing up in New Canaan, Connecticut, or ‘The Next Station to Heaven,’ as it is sometimes called by its residents, the town’s annual sidewalk sale event was always a highlight for me. I looked forward all year to that one day every summer when all of the local businesses ‘set up shop’ on the street so customers like me could mix, mingle, and revel in the outdoor shopping experience. Later, as a teenager, working after school at a small clothing store situated on the town’s main drag, I still looked forward to the summer sidewalk sale. Working the event was just as much fun to me as shopping there.
Fast forward thirty-plus years, I am now a grown woman with a tenured career in marketing and public relations under my belt, and a new one as co-author of two-and-counting women’s fiction novels. In addition to a bit of life experience and professional achievement, the past three decades have also gifted me with the sensibility to see things from an adult perspective. Today, my sentimental memories of a wonderful event are fringed with a mature understanding and appreciation both for what it is and what it represents: a partnership between commerce and community.
As an author, one of my favorite New Canaan shops is Elm Street Books. Though independent bookstores are hard to find these days, I’m pleased to report that this one is alive and well. And, you could have knocked me over with a quill pen when they invited me and Leigh to do a book signing there during the 2015 Sidewalk Sale. Under any other circumstances, wild horses wouldn’t have kept us away from my old sidewalk sale stomping grounds, but this year we will be signing at another local business, Joseph’s Wayside Market, in Naples, New York.
The inspiration behind our second novel, The Pie Sisters, Joseph’s draws people from near and far to get farm fresh produce, regional wines, and delicious pies and pastries baked right on the market’s premises. It is the crown jewel in a compendium of small businesses that brilliantly bedazzle the Finger Lakes region.
Just like Joseph’s, Phantom Farms, Pine Swamp Place, Symposium Books, Ocean State Apparel, and Only in Rhode Island, are also part of a treasured small business collective that carry our books on their shelves; this one in Rhode Island where Leigh and I both reside with our families. We share a bond with these stores, as well as Elm Street Books and Joseph’s Wayside Market, that is more than just a business-to-business connection; it is part of something bigger and beneficial to us all: community. The support we give each other is what keeps communities strong and makes them great.
So, the next time you run out to the store, the service station, the dry cleaner, or the hair dresser, remember to value your community and keep it local.