We don’t take it seriously enough because it happens to us in inches. In fact, the deterioration process is very similar to how the Universe will eventually fade into a cold, dead, empty space. Sometimes the end comes with a whimper.
When we finally do reach that tipping point, as I believe we already have, we will react to it much like we do when watching our first child head off to college. We’ll wonder where the time went and how this kind of thing could’ve happened right under our noses.
If we have regrets, we’ll harbor a desperate desire go back and relive some of those difficult moments. But it’s too late. It’s out of our hands. The arrow of time only points in one direction.
After 52 years in Geneva, Cole Travel is closing up shop. You probably wouldn’t even notice if it weren’t for this column and the one in the Chronicle because they share a storefront with The Gift Box which will remain open.
I know it seems like small potatoes, but rest assured, it’s just another nail in downtown Geneva’s coffin.
“We did so good for so many years. But in the last six years, there was a huge slow down,” manager Barbara Cox told the Chronicle. “We have had a disappointing year on overseas business. People buy tickets online. That is the story.”
And it’s a story that quite a few downtown folks oughtta be paying a whole lot of attention to. “People can buy their tickets online.” That certainly says it all.
Maybe if it was just this small business, we could collectively sigh and quietly mutter that times will get better. But in our hearts, we know it’s just another sign of this downtown death by degree.
Folks keep telling me a nightclub will be coming into the old 302 West site, and I certainly wish them the best, but how will they survive with a complete lack of nearby parking? People don’t want to have to walk across a ferociously busy street to eat dinner, either.
While Mike Simon certainly pulled out all the stops to snag an Apple Store, despite downtown landlord Joe Stanton’s previous optimistic pronouncements, every last one of those Merra-Lee shops sits empty.
What worries me even more than the totality of what we’ve just outlined here is that one of the downtown guardians we hold in the highest esteem is turning out to be part of the problem.
Pure Gardener owner Craig McLean's fruitless efforts to get Joe Stanton to relent on rent no longer matter because the Pure Gardner and The Art Box—both sales-tax-paying businesses that actually attract foot traffic—are being pushed out for yet another cookie-cutter bank.
I suppose you can’t fault someone for looking out for their own financial interests, but when Wood Award winner Joe Stanton isn’t looking out for our business district’s best interest, then I can’t help but whisper the phrase, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”
I also had high hopes for the downtown aldermen who took the bull by the horns by hosting meetings with downtown merchants. But so far, the only thing the City Council has done is issued momentous declarations like we don’t need a downtown grocery store.
Meanwhile, if we have to wait much longer for our in-house economic development team to add the word "proactive" to their vocabulary, we’ll all be sitting around taking Geritol and bragging about our bowel movements.
And don’t get me started on the Chamber of Commerce. They still think it’s 1985. I’ve seen the plans for Swedish Days and, with the exception of High Infidelity on the music stage, it’s just another cure for insomnia.
Guys! As that rock group once sang in the '80s, “video killed the radio star.” It’s over.
If it will make you happy, go ahead and get as mad at me at you want, but in your hearts you know it would be just another case of shooting the messenger. If you’re willing to take the time and effort to add up the variables, there’s only one reasonable conclusion—Downtown Geneva will continue to slowly fade away.
And our reaction to this sad reality? It’s like the lethargic creature in Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book, “His tail is so long, he won’t feel any pain, ‘til the nip makes the trip and gets up to his brain. In exactly eight hours, The Chippendale Mupp will, at last, feel the bite and yell, “Ouch!” and wake up.”
But when our downtown pain finally hits, it will—sadly—be too late.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this column included a paragraph that suggested the Erdays were selling their building. A post by Ron Erday on the You Know Your From Geneva When ... Facebook page says his brothers are selling only the part of the building at 301 W. State St. (on the corner of State and Third streets) and that Erday's at 10 N. Third St. is alive and well and "not for sale or lease."