... Really Do Come True
The summer flew by. We are settling into Fall after the fun and rush of having relatives from Florida [Daughter and Granddaughter to me; Sister and Niece to my co-workers] visit. I so enjoy doing the whole tourist experience in this area that I love so much. You get to see every thing with fresh eyes, and we get around to things that just get overlooked or put off in our day to day life.
From Prada Marfa to the Château Wright Winery to munching lunch from a Food Truck, it was a great week. We squeezed in what we could— shopping and a walking tour of Alpine. Afternoon snacks from the Bread Garden Bakery and fun vintage picking at the Kishmish Plaza Flea Market.
The week flew by, and then it was back to Work. I still don’t feel caught up. We’re hurtling towards Halloween, and the string of Holidays that seem to follow right on its heels. I am not sure if I’m ready for it. This year has flown by, and I have still not found the optimum trajectory for this Store and Business.
I Am Living My Dream, But...
I am still in search of ways to make our business more sustainable, and yet still appeal to the Tourists who are our mainstay. I have some concerns about the future of our small, and to my mind, most wonderful, corner of the world. Fort Davis, and Alpine and Marfa as well, have long been destinations for folks from the flatter, hotter and more populated regions of Texas. However, with the growing interest in the outdoors, natural and still primitive areas, and travel in general, we have begun to appeal to a much broader audience.
Like most everything in this rushed and technological century, that can easily become a two edged sword (if it’s not already). The very folks that come to enjoy this pristine beauty are just as likely to spoil it. Too often, they bring with them the attitudes of those more crowded and yes, contemporary areas. They want entertainment, and conveniences that have come to be seen as necessities in the cities and communities they come from— extended hours and instant gratification of wants and needs. While it is fine to cater to the customer, it becomes prohibitive when it begins to seriously alter the land and the lifestyles of those of us who have chosen to live here, or have settled down here because it suits them.
There is often little understanding (among many of our tourists) of small merchants and businesses that must close to attend to appointments or other necessities, of sleepy towns that don’t offer around the clock services and luxuries. The list of differences between us, and many of these visitors can go on and on. Already, the economic costs of catering to a tourist driven and part time resident business model is becoming obvious. Housing is at a premium throughout much of this area, and affordable rentals scarce or almost non-existent. While many homes are being refitted as Airbnb’s and Short-term rentals, it is hard for people who would normally work in the service industry to find homes. It is not always the unwillingness of people to work that so many point at, as the inability for them to live decently or at all on minimum wage in a growing number of areas.
The list of problems grow right along with the increasing allure of our area to tourism. From infrastructure and employment issues, to damage done to these areas by incautious and careless visitors, and to the arrival of ones whose interest lies more in exploiting the growing popularity of the area rather than preserving it, we are facing some difficult times here.
Okay! I’m coming down from my soapbox. At present, I have a lot more questions and queries than answers. However, I have hopes that some of these issues can be addressed to the benefit of all.
My Dreams Going Forward
I have been and will continue to be an advocate for Living Local, for keeping as many of our dollars and as much of our purchasing as is possible and plausible within the community (or communities; our larger Local certainly includes Alpine, Marfa and Balmorhea, as well as a number of other other small dots on the map]). I also love being a cheerleader for this entire area, and the many attractions that we have to offer. I have no qualms about recommending other businesses in the area to my customers and (Social Media) Followers.
I love that other people find as much to love in this still largely untamed corner of the world as I do. But I want to see it protected and cared for. I want growth to be of the considered and considerate kind, and I want to be part of whatever can be done to make it Better. Not bigger or more cosmopolitan or in step with the rest of the world, but Better, Cleaner, Healthier and more Wholesome than it already is.
I like the word Holism (Wholism ;-)) a lot these days. I am in the process of looking for ways to still be the very cool and eclectic shop that we are, but to also promote a Lifestyle that proposes that we not only look after ourselves and our beautiful area, but help to also look after the World at large, a way if living that helps makes things better instead of… Well, what we see going on all around us these days.
More next time.