Monday, September 3, 2007
This afternoon, I whiled away an hour or so strolling Fredericksburg’s downtown shopping area, which is located within the city’s 40-block historic district. It’s what most visitors would consider “quaint,” and includes boutiques, antique shops, restaurants, art galleries and studios. So far, there are no retail chains with the exception of Ben Franklin, which is so outdated and old fashioned, I’m not sure that it counts. There are a few coffee shops, none of them Starbucks, a few bookstores, none of them Borders, and a few ice cream shops, none of them Baskin-Robbins. Of course, within the city limits, we have all of those chains and many more, with new ones opening all the time. It’s been hard for some of the downtown stores to compete with the big boys in the shopping centers that spread out from the town’s center in all directions, and a few have gone out of business because they haven’t been able to compete with their chain counterparts. But for the most part, the downtown retail merchants have adjusted to the competition from the malls and big box shopping centers and Wal-Marts, and the downtown shops seem to be holding their own.