The pending relocation of Swain Sports, the locally grown and popular sporting goods store, from Chain St. to Main St. is a great development for Geneseo’s Downtown. Its new home in the now vacant Scoville Building represents the ideal marriage of a large, landmark storefront with an active local business. The result, I believe, will be a new anchor for Main Street.
Swain is a great business for Main St. It is locally-owned and locally grown. It is large and successful. It is equally appealing to college students and full-time residents. It will be far more accessible to children than is the present location. It will serve to draw people to neighboring businesses.
Also, as a retail business with a broad range of goods and services, I think it will improve the mix of businesses on Main St. In recent years, Main St. has seemed to tip away from the vibrant mix of retail, professional offices, and food and beverage establishments that is critical to drawing a broad range of people to Main Street throughout the year. Frequently heard comments about too much pizza and too many tattoo parlors express a concern that the street doesn’t provide enough places for people to go to meet their needs.
On top of this, having a sports store, a store that encourages people to walk and run and bike, in a location on Route 20A to which you could not safely walk or run or bike, never seemed right. It’s like taking the elevator to the fitness center, buying a double cheeseburger and a diet Coke, or placing the Town Center shopping plaza on the edge of town.
Moving from 20A to Main Street is a great way of unifying theory and practice. Now more people, particularly kids, will be able to walk and ride to the store to check out bikes and skates and bats and balls. This is precisely the type of community-building business a Main Street needs.
Though you may think this nostalgic or exaggerated, when you consider the broad range of modern ailments that flow from our overreliance on cars – from health problems related to physical inactivity to social isolation to climate change to loss of open space – you understand the smart in smart growth.
Every step in that direction, and Swain’s move to Main St. is one small step, strengthens our community. Let’s hope it is a sign of more to come, perhaps a theatre, a hardware store, a corner store….