January 05, 2017

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Steve Siler is a song writer, and founder and director of Music for the Soul, a non-profit music ministry. He is writing this column on behalf of Downtown Frankfort, Inc., a Kentucky Main Street program.

Keeping Frankfort Special

Make a Resolution to Check Out Downtown Opportunities.

Early in 2016 I began writing a bi-weekly column featuring local downtown people and businesses. It has been wonderful getting to know some of our great downtown personalities and merchants and having the opportunity to share their stories with you, the State Journal readers.

The good news as we set sail into 2017 is that we’ve only just begun. There are many more interesting people with great stories to tell. For me, having grown up in Los Angeles, followed by spending twenty years as a Nashville resident, it has been a joy to be part of a community with a more intimate scale. Every time I’m downtown I see someone I know, certainly a far cry from the metropolitan experience.

I’ve heard from many of you that seeing your downtown through these stories has made you aware of things that you hadn’t noticed before or things that perhaps you had taken for granted or forgotten.

One of the things that has happened to me from writing the pieces is that I find myself more personally invested in the success of these businesses and the whole downtown area. Why? Because it has helped me to realize on a deeper level just how special what we have in downtown Frankfort is.

Our downtown stores are distinct, reflecting the personalities of the owners and the character of the area. The smaller scale of the establishments allows for more personalized service and for real relationships to form.

With the advent of the interstates and strip malls, Anywhere USA has become the norm in this country. The same chain restaurants and retail stores can be found coast to coast. They deliver convenience and affordability but in the process the uniqueness and personality of communities is compromised.

Many small downtowns, and ours is no exception, face challenges posed by the big box stores who offer more of everything under one giant roof. But more is not always better. We lose something when we allow all our restaurant and shopping experiences to become cookie-cutter.

My wife and I and several of our friends once experienced losing a beloved, locally owned, non-chain bookstore in an area of Nashville where we lived. When it closed we heard several people respond by saying, “Oh, I loved that place. I wish I had gone there more often.”

I tell that true story to make this point. Having a special downtown is something that depends on all of us. If we want to maintain a downtown that reflects our local community, we need to take the time to visit the downtown shops and restaurants more often. The bonus is, in doing so it can mean we wind up supporting people we actually know!

What kind of opportunities do we have downtown? Clothes?  Downtown’s got ‘em.  Gifts?  Downtown’s got those too. Books? Uh huh. Art? Yes again. Antiques? You bet. Want to see a movie? No problem. What about Museums? Bingo! 

You can handle your banking, drop off your computer to get fixed or your shoes to get repaired, and sign your child up for ballet lessons.

Hungry? There are a dozen eating establishments in the downtown area catering to a variety of tastes.

We’ve come to that time of year when people make resolutions. This year, you can vow to exercise six days a week, or go on that low-fat, low-taste diet plan you’ve been thinking about. Or, instead, you could make a resolution that’s easy to keep!

Make a resolution to be a regular visitor to the downtown area to check out the local merchants. You’ll enjoy yourself and be doing your part in helping to keep downtown Frankfort a special place!

1 Comment

Ann Hester
Ann Hester

January 07, 2017

I agree. Frankfort is a special place. We have many local businessmen and women who take it upon themselves to provide wonderful goods and services that we enjoy. They take the risks to go into business and the community benefits as a result. I shop local as often as I can!

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