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Giving things a try

Apr 18, 2012 - By Steven R. Peck

If you want evidence of how well Riverton has done in preserving a viable downtown business district, just drive through any number of other cities in Wyoming and neighboring states where that isn't the case.

There's no longer any sense in bemoaning the shift in local retail. There are more of the big, chain-owned stores that you can find in Anywhere, USA, and fewer of the distinctive, locally-flavored, locally-owned stores that give a town much of whatever distinction it enjoys.

Those local businesses that have survived have done it through industriousness, diligence, perseverance, determination, innovation and cooperation. The sensible local business community has found a way for its retail establishments to recognize and embrace a common purpose even as they continue to compete against one another where applicable.

One way that cooperation has been manifest in Riverton is the cooperative effort to make sure downtown remains vital. The district has fond continued success through the county fair parade, high school homecoming parade, Shrine Circus parade and others. Political candidates don't dare campaign in an election year without making the rounds of the downtown stores.

Main Street's biggest hits in recent years have been the Halloween trick-or-treat events after hours, and the big Friday Night Cruise tied to Riverton Rendezvous every July.

It makes sense, then, for the local business community and event planners to eye downtown for more ideas to draw people to our equivalent of the town square, where they can get out of the cars, walk the blocks, see the stores and their friends, and enjoy a community downtown experience.

Not everything is a success, but every attempt is worthwhile. Latest on the drawing board is bringing a farmers market of locally grown and produced goods to Main Street on a regular basis through the early fall.

The local food concept has a growing following of committed activists. Their objective is to include more of the community at the consumer level. That could dovetail nicely with the aims of those who would have downtown remain a thriving center of community activity.

By now The Ranger's position on this sort of thing is well known: Give it a try. We'll run the story, make the advertising affordable, send the photographer and stroll the street as part of the crowd. Let's always look for ways to improve community life. This could be just the thing.

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