In yesterday’s post, I praised Southern Pines for its quality of life and vibrant downtown, while expressing my hope that the town wouldn’t lose its character and community affection. After work, I strolled to the post office and window shopped – every store closes at 5pm, except the bookstore which closes at 6pm. As I was walking, two people stopped me and asked me where they could find a store to get everything. I asked if they meant a drugstore or a grocery store. Either would do, they said. They were new to town but staying the week for vacation. They also asked me exactly where they were.
I informed them that they were in downtown Southern Pines, but sadly everything downtown is a boutique or a restaurant. They would have to go back to Route 1 and find the grocery stores and drugstores outside of town. It was clear that they didn’t mind having to leave downtown to find something, but our brief conversation reminded me of my biggest complaint about downtown Southern Pines: it is more tourist based than anything else. For everyday needs, save for the post office and a few offices there is not a strong need to go downtown, whether by driving or walking.
Therefore, I would encourage the long-range plan to focus on a few viable businesses that would bring everyday folks to downtown – whether a small grocery store or a drugstore. I am sure that there are many complications to such a task, but a new restaurant in a new building is opening soon and it filled existing space. Perhaps something other than a boutique or a restaurant would be good; a good downtown should welcome residents and tourists, not one or the other.