There are a few reasons why Easton residents experience certain anxiety when they see vacant storefronts in and around the historic district. The first is sentimental. These abandoned shops, which fall into the 3,000 to 10,000 square feet range, such as Ben Franklin, the News Center, Earth Origins Market, and Safeway were greatly beloved by their customers. The simple sight of these now deserted sites causes an understandable sadness with those missing products or former employees.
The second is more particular. No one likes to see empty storefronts since it seems to send a message about a town’s vitality, or lack thereof. And while it may be true that almost every town in America is also facing a dramatically changing retail world, when it’s your town, one is inclined to take it very personally.
That is one of the reasons that the Spy recently spoke to the Town of Easton’s Ross Benincasa. Beyond directly managing the town’s significant “Discover Easton” campaign of events and marketing, Ross routinely plays a critical role in the town’s economic development strategies, including daily contact with commercial real estate brokers and future store owners.
In his Spy chat, Ross talks about Easton’s “little box” challenge that could ease some minds worried about a retail Armageddon in the near future. Beyond citing that Easton’s vacancy rate is not of line with historical patterns, Ross highlights a new level of innovation with commercial real estate that finds new uses for these old favorite places. He also takes about the relationship between retail and the lack of housing for younger residents who are increasingly making up the largest percentage of consumers in the country.
This video is approximately seven minutes in length.
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