Chain store invasion: Why here and not there?

A recent article in The Journal News by Mark Lungariello (“Communities look to lock out chain stores” on May 29, 2015), the theme of which was debated by the paper’s Editorial Board (“Breaking the Chains” on June 12, 2015), highlights an issue plaguing not just the Westchester suburbs. The disappearance of “mom and pop” local shops and the arrival of corporate chain stores is taking place in many communities across the country. For us in Tuckahoe, though, this is our backyard.
As Mr. Lungariello points out, chain stores are not new in Tuckahoe. There is a Carvel on Main Street and a Starbucks at the Tuckahoe Metro-North station. Now a Subway is coming to Main Street. At what point are the floodgates considered opened with no chance of return to a previous village “feel?” Is one chain store one too many for a small downtown? Are two okay but do three cross the line? Does it depend if you like standardized whale-shaped ice cream cakes and Oprah coffee? A footlong made fresh?
Mr. Lungariello informs that in Eastchester there are restrictions on new restaurants with more than 15 locations and those that offer stand-up service and menus on the wall. Was this a safety measure put in place by a group of leaders conscious of how chain restaurants significantly alter local environments, often with the fruits of their success leaving the local community and supporting global conglomerates? Eastchester clearly decided that chains do not belong in their backyard. Why do they belong in Tuckahoe?
Nobody wants to see a Main Street with empty storefronts. Currently, though, significant building of new housing complexes in Tuckahoe is underway. I can only imagine that the “luxury” rentals aim to appeal to renters who will appreciate a small village of 6,000 residents. What will draw them to Tuckahoe instead of other areas? The village “feel” of Tuckahoe or access to chain stores that look and are the same as the ones in countless other forgettable downtowns? I know that I was drawn to Tuckahoe because it wasn’t like everywhere else. Hopefully it can hold on to its charm before it’s too late.


About Author

Jennie Steinhagen moved to the Village of Tuckahoe in 2015 after a number of years in Brooklyn. Originally from New Jersey, Steinhagen has held various positions with corporate, academic, and non-profit organizations, involving extensive U.S. and world travel. Now she is working locally in the project management arena and as an instructor of healthy plant-based cooking classes for kids and adults.

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