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Sunday, August 19, 2012

A slice of Americana right here at home...


I recently spent a few days meeting with most of the local merchants and businesses while soliciting support for the upcoming Milford Home Tour. The experience gave me pause to reflect on how idyllic a setting the Village of Milford really is. I got to meet with the Butcher and the Baker, the Barber  and the Feed Store proprietors, because we still have all of those things in our little Village. I met the shoe store owner, several clothing store owners and a couple of our jewelry store owners, too. Then there were the furniture stores, the candy store, the local photographer and the kitchen/cooking store. Of course the more prosaic stores are there too – the auto parts stores the drug stores and grocery stores. Finally I got to meet with most of the owners of our great local restaurants. See the header at the top of this page for a composite picture of downtown Milford.

The thing that stood out for me was that all of these little, individual businesses still existed right here in the Village of Milford and that, for the most part, you could park once and walk to all of them by going up and down Main St. You just don’t find such a great assortment of stores and businesses in small towns anymore. Milford is far enough off the beaten path to have avoided the fate that so many small towns suffered when so-called “big box” stores moved in and took all of the customers away. Milford also had a good master plan for growth and strong and visionary leadership who carefully managed what and where growth took place, in order to preserve a strong downtown.  It worked and we still have a viable downtown that takes advantage of the great historical buildings that are there and the small town feeling that permeates everything.

Many of the local merchants that I talked to have had a tough time recently, with the down economy taking its toll, even here. Every one of them said there’s no place else that they’d rather be than in Milford, even in this economy. That says a lot, too.

Several of the local businesses decided to support the Milford Historical Society and its 36th annual Home Tour during the third weekend of September. The fact that we have the local Milford Historical Society, with its museum and a Home Tour that’s been going on for 36 years also speaks volumes about small town America and our little Village. People in Milford value and have preserved the fine old housing stock that grew up during the mid to late 19th Century. Milford was never a rich town, but it has preserved the bigger, nicer homes that were built by its early merchants and businessmen, as well as the smaller homes that were occupied by the workers of the day. There are no real mansions in Milford, but there are some fine old homes that have the best features of homebuilding of that era. Some of them are on display each year for the Home Tour.

So, if you get the opportunity to get out to Milford for the Home Tour, try to come on September 15th so that you’ll also have time to wander around our beautiful downtown. Most of the downtown stores are not open on Sunday, but on that weekend some will be, because there is also the big Milford Car Show downtown, too.  You’ll be able to easily find our Butcher and Baker and many of the other businesses that I’ve mentioned. The Feed Store is a little harder to find, but it’s there, tucked away off a residential side street (Houghton St) on the south east side of town. If you have an animal of almost any type you can find feed and other things for it there, along with a proprietor who’s more than happy to chat with you about your pets.

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