Archive - Jun 16, 2012
Though I live in Woodbridge, Derby too often has been a city to drive through on my way to Beardsley's Cider Mill or Jones Farms. I've stopped from time to time at the Home Depot in Derby, but a Home Depot looks like a Home Depot just about anywhere. Yet now that I'm running for State Representative in a district that includes some of Derby, I really need to get to know the city a little bit better.
I must admit, it feels strange to call Derby a city. In terms of municipal organization, it's a city, but it is Connecticut's smallest city and has the feeling of a small town. Back in 2000, Derby was an "All-America City" winner. When I was younger, I lived in Williamstown, Mass, which is right next to North Adams which was an "All-America City" winner in my youth.
With this, my trip into Derby on Thursday felt very familiar. I stopped to speak at the Derby Democratic Town Committee in the basement of the Elks Lodge. Afterwards, I went up stairs and had a drink with some of the town committee members. They talked about the JC Penney that used to be in Derby and the Rambler dealership. Hopefully, I remember the places properly.
One of the key things we were talking about was when people used to shop where they lived. I remember going to stores when I was a kid, where you knew the owner of the store. The store owners knew that if they treated people poorly, they wouldn't hear the end of it, whether it be at church, at Little League, at the Memorial Day parade, or some event at the school.
In my youth up in Massachusetts, I used to go to local grocers like McNichol's and Eddie's Market. Those stores are gone, like their counterparts around the country are gone. I miss them. But it isn't enough to be nostalgic for an old grocery store that is now gone. Instead, we need to be working together to find ways to bring small locally owned businesses back. We need to highlight and promote our local businesses.
I don't know the businesses in Derby very well yet, but it is something I look forward to doing. I'll start off with the visit to Derby Day today. It looks like it should be a good day, and I hope a lot of people will turn out. I hope I'll get to meet a lot of folks from Derby and find out about the hidden gems that we should be telling friends about. Join me in discovering Derby.