While I’ve been preoccupied with the off-blog obligations of teaching and grading, there’s been a mini-exodus of stores from downtown Keene, winter being the slow season for retail business.

Remember the boutique whose window I showed you smashed and then repaired? They’re now closed, having liquidated much of their inventory in order to move their brick-and-mortar business online, leaving an empty shell in the place of their once-colorful window display.


After some 40 years of business, Paulsen’s Bookland has similarly pulled up stakes, closing stores both here in Keene and in Concord, NH. It’s difficult to maintain a small, family-run bookstore with heavy competition from online and Big Box retailers; truth be told, I never bought anything at Bookland, disappointed that it stocked more magazines than books.


Although I as much as anyone agree with the downtown merchants’ slogan that “It’s Keene to Shop Locally,” I don’t buy many magazines, and I don’t frequent upscale boutiques: my business isn’t the kind either of these stores tried (unsuccessfully, apparently) to court. Still, the sight of empty shop windows is a sad one, something that makes me wish I were a more Conspicuous Consumer whose wallet could keep Ma and Pa in business. Instead, I tend toward frugality, tending to the off-blog obligations of teaching and grading, walking the dog, and taking pictures: activities that do little, unfortunately, to fuel the local economy.