Easton Sidewalks: Marc|Randall on Dover Street

For Marc Randall, the owner of Marc|Randall, a women’s apparel store on Dover Street, the bet has always been that will be a select group of women on the Mid-Shore who care enough about fashion and quality, and who also have the means to spend $250 for a sweater.

In fact, this business plan has been in effect for twenty-five years now. Starting in 1993, Marc, and three fellow investors, felt the time was right for a high-quality women’s clothes store in Easton. And on many levels, this calculation has turned out to be a significant success story. The store has attracted many patrons who are indeed willing to seek out exceptional quality and pay the relatively higher costs that go with its quality, as an extension of their sense of fashion and timeless appeal.

And this customer base has also been very devoted to Marc as well. Year after year, this unique band of loyalists, make it a habit to build seasonal wardrobes are built around Randall’s distinct sense of style. It is also not uncommon for Marc to experience the joy of seeing those sweaters and dresses passed down to daughters and granddaughters.

All of this should add up to a certain sense of security that the Marc|Randall store should be sustainable during this rapid change in the retail sector, but that doesn’t stop Marc from worrying that younger women will not carry on this tradition.  With consumers forgoing quality and seeking lower prices, he can only hope that this great history of fashion on Dover Street will continue.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Marc/Randall please go here

Easton Sidewalks: Downtown’s Safeway Comes to a Sad Ending

Hundreds of downtown Easton residents found out some unfortunate news yesterday. According to the Star-Democrat, Safeway has decided to close its food store on Washington Avenue this September.

Considered to be one of Easton’s best-kept secrets, which is perhaps one of the reasons Safeway decided to close it, with short lines, friendly service and long hours, the Washington Avenue store was accessible by foot for many lacking cars or other transportation means to do their food shopping.

Even with its unique charms, the Safeway never really caught up with the changing times.  The store was small, and there was never a real investment by the parent corporation to upgrade its deli, improve its bread selection, or get on board will high quality prepared foods.

Perhaps there will be the silver lining in all this bad news. The current store and location would make an ideal spot for a Trader Joe’s or a small Whole Foods. We’ll need to wait and see, but given its location and the important role of providing downtown residents with access to a food store without needing a car, we hope this is only a temporary setback.

Easton Sidewalks: Surrealism on Goldsborough

While the Spy has just begun taking inventory of Easton’s outdoor sculpture and statues, we can say with great confidence that we have located the only surrealism sculpture on Goldsborough Street; at least so far.

For about two months now, a two-colored donkey, with a distraught child on its back, has taken up residence in downtown Easton to the delight and bewilderment of the neighborhood. Proudly running parallel with one of the primary roads coming into town, the donkey is also seen from the sidewalk contributing golden feces to the streetscape.

The Spy discovered that the artist’s title for the piece doesn’t really help make sense of it all. It is entitled Adesso è più normale, adesso è meglio, adesso è giusto (Now is more normal, now is better, now is right); so good luck with that.

But all this fun confusion is, of course, quite intentional on the part of the artist and, by extension, the sculpture owners. With each pedestrian crossing or motorist driving by, there is no quick resolution to what the viewer is looking at, providing just enough of a minor disruption in one’s day to be both humorous and provoking all at the same time.

But it is only after you the see Willy Verginer’s other work that one begins to see how brilliant the Italian artist’s art is, and how lucky we are to live in a town that has found a home for one of them.

 

Other examples of Willy Verginer’s work. 

 

 

 

 

 

Easton Sidewalks: Sonny Opens Up on Marlboro

There is always a certain degree of caution in checking out a pizza place, at least one on the Eastern Shore. Too often the search for a suitable New York style slice of pepperoni ends with a soggy crust and a weak tomato sauce rather than that perfect experience one gets on almost any street corner in Manhattan.

That might change a bit with the addition of a new pizza place that arrived a few months ago on Marlboro Street. Sunny’s of NY has joined a competitive field of pizza establishments in town, and throughout the county, in offering the ultimate perfect slice.

For more information about the new kid in town go here.

Easton Sidewalks: Mason’s Return on Harrison Street

In hindsight, it shouldn’t have been a shocker that the owners of Mason’s, a culinary “Rock of Gibraltar” in Easton since 1966, would put the family-owned business up for sale a few years ago. With most restaurants these days lasting about eighteen months, the decision for the family to sell the fifty-year-old dining establishment and retire seemed to follow the predictable lifecycle for any enterprise.

What wasn’t especially evident however was the motivation behind the new owners swapping out Mason’s time-tested business model for a high-end steakhouse with prices to match. Mason’s had not been sold because it was losing money. Its formula of excellent service and food in a perfect Eastern Shore setting had worked its wonders into making Mason’s one of the few restaurants in town that could count on a profit most years.

But, alas, this significant fact didn’t stop the new owners from re-branding the venue as a deluxe Chophouse, confidently thinking that area diners wouldn’t miss the original Mason’s. But they did, and that led to an early end to $50 steaks but also left one of the town’s most attractive restaurants sitting empty and lifeless.

It was, therefore, all the more exciting then for the Spy to learn that the mighty Mason’s will be getting a second life in a few months. Angel investors have come to the rescue of Easton’s “Grand Dame,” and plan to return both the name and its distinctive take on American cuisine to Harrison Street this Fall.

More details will be forthcoming on its grand opening date but needless to say, Mason’s, like a great phoenix rising again, will once again be back in town soon enough.

 

Easton Sidewalks: Thinking about Anne Truitt on South Street

Anne Truitt childhood home in Easton

One of the more interesting projects that the Talbot Historical Society recently introduced was a running list of the most respected and well-known Talbot County residents over the last three hundred years or so. It’s a fascinating lineup but one can’t recall seeing Anne Dean Truitt’s name among the top one hundred.

There should be no surprize with that omission. While Anne Truitt’s sculptures and art are just a few degrees south of Andy Warhol’s work in commercial value these days, and the subject of more than a few major retrospectives at such places as the Hirshhorn Museum since her death in 2004,  it is still understandable that this brilliant art minimalist, who grew up on South Street, would not be on the tip of the tongue of most folks living in Easton these days.

Nor was Truitt in Easton that long. Her family left town when she was fourteen for Asheville, and never really returned to the Eastern Shore except to visit friends from time to time. The artist would move on to Bryn Mawr College, then training in psychology at Yale, and eventually marry to James Truitt, a Washington Post reporter who eventually became president of Newsweek.

Anne Truitt

One would think with that kind of biography, Anne Truitt’s Easton days would be a very limited chapter in her memory bank of experiences. But the truth was that the artist would continue to keep her memories of Easton and Talbot County very much alive as she matured as an artist.

We know this to be true from the publication of her best-selling journal, Daybook, which was published in 1982, where she recalls her life in Easton and documents the impact that the landscape of Talbot County had on her work.

Attention Rewarded: Anne Truitt

Whether it be on a farm just off of Leehaven Road or the family home on South Street, Truitt’s mother philosophy that, “children should be brought up like cabbages — with lots of sun and space and let alone to grow,” allowed Anne to roam as she pleased during the 1920s and 1930s. Or, as she wrote, “and so it was with the little town of Easton, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore: an orderly scattering of houses, mostly white clapboard, so small that even on my short legs I was able to encompass the town’s dimensions. ”

Truitt also fell in love with proportions as well as dimensions in Talbot County. She writes in her journal:

“The actual landscape, of course, remains, and I returned to the Eastern Shore of Maryland now and then to look at it again. And at the houses in which I grew up.  The first of these is owned by a friend, and when I visit her I can see once again, by scrunching down, the proportions that taught me as a child. The house was probably built around the middle of the 18th century and is never been remodeled in any way. But what I remember is clearer to me than what I see today. I go back and yet cannot go back. Time has locked it all away from me as if I had died. I am irremediably thrust into my own mind, and there I find it all, in weights and lines and colors distinctively my own. Just as in my work I found it was the essence  rather than the objects that held me, so I find it is only the abstract part of my experience that is real for me. I wonder around the houses and gardens and see them with my physical eyes, while behind them glimmers the radiance of my vision. I have no home but me.”

Easton Sidewalks is an ongoing series of portraits of its streets and people

 

 

 

Easton Sidewalks: Paul Prager adds a New Coffee Shop

As a few Easton “in the know” residents are aware, local developer Paul Prager, a New York transplant and highly successful businessman, has been quietly transforming Federal Street over the last few years into the “go to” block for food offerings just steps from the County Courthouse building.

Starting with a up-scale lunch venue, featuring gourmet salads and other light food, followed by a high-end juice bar, yoga studio, and more recently, a fine dining restaurant, Mr. Prager, and his company Bluepoint Hospitality Group, has invested millions into making this small side street a new hub for foodies and health enthusiasts.

Without any fanfare, Paul’s newest addition, Weather Gage Coffee, opened its doors a few weeks ago and the Spy decided to check out the town’s new bean shop.

Matching the high style of the rest of the block, Weather Gage could just as easily be located on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. With marble floors, dark wood walls, oil paintings, and very limited offerings, the coffee shop once again demonstrates Prager’s good taste, but also his conviction that Talbot County residents will seek out and support this high-end collection of specialty shops in the years ahead.