As old businesses head out and new businesses make their way in, Middletown Main Street, Inc., is once again amping up its efforts to remind residents to shop local and help support the town’s independent businesses.


    Downtown Middletown has seen its share of businesses close up shop or move out of the area within the last few years, but as empty storefronts begin to fill with color and companies like Christiana Care and Johnson Controls choose to expand here, some may see it as a glimpse of a brighter future to come for the local economy.

    As old businesses head out and new businesses make their way in, Middletown Main Street, Inc., is once again amping up its efforts to remind residents to shop local and help support the town’s independent businesses.

    With new signage, new events and a few new enthusiastic business owners, Tracy Skrobot, program manager for Middletown Main Street, Inc., is on a mission to revive Middletown’s downtown district and make ittheplace to shop and dine.

    “We don’t want people to forget about the little guy,” Skrobot said. “These small, independent businesses are the backbone of this country. Everything has to come back to its original place.”

    Come August, residents and out-of-town visitors may notice a few new decals in the windows of Main Street businesses that direct people to “shop independent.” The signs will also point out which businesses are part of the Main Street organization.

    “We have a good group of merchants, and they’re starting to see the power in numbers and are working to support each other.”

    Skrobot pointed to several national “Shop Independent” movements that spread awareness about buying locally and the impact it has on communities.

    One movement, in particular, Independent We Stand, claims that if every family in the county spent just $10 a month at a locally-owned, independent business instead of a national chain, more than $9.3 billion would be directly returned to local economies. Web users can go on the organization’s web site and see what that figure would be for their local area.

    According to the site, based on the Civic Economics Andersonville Study of Retail Economics and U.S. Census projections, if every family in the Dover area spent $10 a month at an independent business, $4,737,125 would go back to the Dover community.

    “It can be so minimal,” Skrobot said. “We’re not telling people not to shop at chains. It’s not either/or, it’s and. There’s a place for both types of businesses; we’re just saying don’t forget the independent shops.”

    The experience that comes with shopping in a private, independent store is also much different, she said.

    “People shouldn’t assume the prices are always higher, but you do have that uniqueness that you’re not going to get in chains. The nice thing is that each store doesn’t look like the next one.”

    Skrobot said with a new emergency center and manufacturing facility on their way, she is optimistic about the future and the impact on the local economy.

    “People no longer have to just work here or just live here. It will help the housing market and it will get the median income back to where it should be,” she said.