Erasing Old Borders: Our Evolving Downtowns

Posted on May 5, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

It is indeed a sad day for the bibliophiles of Connecticut! Yet another book store is about to close its doors for the final time, leaving one fewer gathering place for the literati of our state.

This particular closure is a noteworthy one, though, considering the establishment’s proximity to a pair of major universities and a populace of extremely affluent and highly educated citizens. The Borders mega-store of downtown Fairfield has announced its imminent closure, leaving nearby students of Fairfield and Sacred Heart Universities high and dry along with the residents of Connecticut’s Gold Coast.

Ironically, just fifteen years ago, it appeared that downtown Fairfield would be left without a retail anchor when The Fairfield Store — a 75 year old family owned department store in a landmark building — was torn down to make room for a modern retail development. But Borders took its place, both physically and socially, as Fairfield moved into the 21st century.

Interestingly, downtown Fairfield’s 90 year old Community Theatre is still going strong as a second run movie house, staffed by neighborhood volunteers and managed by a local nonprofit organization. Back in 2001, movie legend Paul Newman and others stepped in to save the theater after it lost its audience to neighboring multiplexes.

Why save the theater and not the book store? Perhaps the local citizenry’s affinity for cinema exceeds its desire for books! Nevertheless, if a bookstore cannot survive in a wealthy suburban town with two major universities within its borders, it is difficult to envision a location where such institutions can thrive in our state.

Contributed by Michael Kraten, PhD, CPA, Accounting Professor at Providence College and President of Enterprise Mgt. Corp.

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