Slow But Steady



Hello, all. I thought I’d take a moment to say hello and let you all know I’m recovering well. If you didn’t know already, I experienced some unexpected health problems in July which led to a hospitalization and lots of subsequent medical appointments to make sure I recover and don’t end up in the Emergency Room again. I’m satisfied with that strategy, lengthy as it is.

Coming Right Up!
Coming Right Up!

I’d like to thank those of you who expressed support and who offered to help carry the load while I take the necessary time to recover. This is one of those times when I feel the community behind me and that alone has made a huge difference in my health. In the meantime, I’ll be slowly re-integrating and have a few updates for you:

  • I’ll be hosting a fall Coffee at Kickstand event at some point soon after Labor Day. It would be great to see you all and find out how you’re doing. I’ll have a date and time for you as soon as the holiday is over.
  • I recently joined Support Arlington Center, a group dedicated to addressing the alarming rate of empty storefronts and exorbitant rent increases that occasioned them. I’m on board in an official advisory capacity and will be helping the organization coordinate their activities with other business development and municipal entities around town. I’ll also be helping to organize the first in a series of “cash mobs,” based on the flash mob phenomenon. Our cash mobs will focus on existing Center businesses. Visit Support Arlington Center for more information and to join the organization.

I’m still on the lookout for additional volunteers who could help with events (just being there would be a great benefit), groups (mostly touching base with group members by updating feeds and/or blog posts) and technical support for some of our web development projects.

Finally, special thanks to AE member Bruce Hoppe of Connective Associates for his offers of help and great community development ideas. I’d also like to thank friend and AE Partner Mike Grossman of Mike Grossman Consulting for his behind-the-scenes technical help and support. I’ve been starting to make the rounds of friends and colleagues once again and hope to see or talk with you at some point soon.

That’s it for now. I’ve got my annual physical exam coming up tomorrow and – joy! – will have Friday all to myself. Please feel free to keep in touch and let me know if you have any questions, ideas or requests.

The Cost of Doing Business

Former Derby Farms
For Lease Sign
Losing Our Center of Gravity

I live in Arlington Center. Like many of you, I’ve seen business after business close down, especially in the last year or so. I’ve watched in dismay and then horror as shops I’ve frequented for years shuttered their doors and moved away. These days, all I see are empty storefronts and For Lease signs where those small businesses used to be. I miss those folks and their services. I had my hair done at Heads Up for over a decade. I shopped at Derby Farm and got to know and respect owner Barbara Popolow. At one point she expanded the shop, a move which no doubt cost a great deal of money. Now it’s in East Arlington (fortunately still around!) and the former shop stands abandoned in the Center. I often treated myself to breakfast or lunch at the Madrona Tree (thank you, Tanya!) and am heart-broken at their forced exit. The same goes for the little frozen yogurt shop, the CVS and all the rest. Thank goodness The Artful Heart (here’s to you, Carla!) was able to relocate to another location a block away, but the move cost some serious money which the store now has to recoup. There are other businesses who are wondering if they’ll be next. And I wonder, will we be able to have dinner at Tango anymore? Will people driving through Arlington Center take one look and just keep going?

Empty Store Interior
I Used to Shop Here

I run a small business community and, as such, I have a personal stake in all of this. Landlords can charge what they want, of course, but small businesses may not be able to keep up with the cost. I’d rather have an independent business in those shops than a corporate chain that has deeper pockets but no commitment to the community. We’ve heard the statistics – local businesses keep the money here, corporate chains take it out. That leaves us all poorer, in more ways than one.

A number of media outlets, including the Boston Globe, have written about this. It’s distressing and there doesn’t seem to be anything anyone can do about it. Maybe it’s the activist in me (yes, I’ve been on a picket line), but I refuse to believe that we’re all doomed to go down with the ship. I have a feeling other Arlingtonians feel the same way.

For Lease Signs
Why So Many For Lease Signs?

So, what can we do? First, join the Support Arlington Center Facebook group. This group wants to make sure Arlington Center remains vibrant and full of small, local businesses. Check out their website, too.

Second, The Madrona Tree has a GoFundMe page. The restaurant may be gone, but it looks like their page is still up and running. Make a contribution. With enough resources, maybe they’ll be able to stay in Arlington after all.

Third, go shopping and eating in the Center! Let business owners know you support them and want them to stay. A lot of people are working to make that happen. Add your voice to the chorus!

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m recovering from a recent illness that had me in a hospital for over a week. Even with that, I plan to do what I can to help restore Arlington Center – my home – to its former health and prosperity. Can you help, too?

Best, Margy Rydzynski, Founder and Community Manager
Arlington Entrepreneurs