Supporting local merchants

Jessica Lewis

When Mayor Joseph Maiurano approached me about doing a story to promote shopping downtown during the holiday season, I thought it was a great idea. Unsure of exactly how I wanted to approach the story, Mayor Maiurano and I dedicated a few days to traveling from business to business in the heart of Norwich, asking what the stores had to offer their customers. The results were amazing. Neither of us had anticipated the sheer volume of merchandise available in the downtown Norwich area.

It took many tries before the article was complete. First I tried to mention each of the stores and what type of merchandise they carried. When the story began to look more like a shopping list than an article, I knew that particular option was out. Then I tried breaking the story up into segments, featuring a handful of businesses in each article in a series, but again it sounded like I was just listing stores and items. Finally, I decided to write one article, discussing downtown shopping as a whole. I mentioned a few business owners who mentioned special services they provided for the community, and those that gave the best quotes.

The article was complete, and I was proud of myself for doing something that would promote down town and all of the people who work hard to keep it thriving. That is for a little while.  Only hours after the story ran, I began hearing about complaints from some of the merchants. The problem, basically was that I mentioned some business owners and establishments, and left others out.  Although the story was supposed to promote down town shopping as a whole, that is not the impression that it gave to many local merchants.

Although I will admit, I was initially upset over the business owners’ reactions, I suppose the fault lies in my own judgment.  The merchants cannot be blamed for looking out for the best interests of their own businesses, however, I have learned my lesson. I won’t be writing any more holiday shopping stories, because someone is sure to be left out or forgotten. So instead, I will just say, downtown stores have a wide variety of merchandise, and shopping locally helps the local economy.