Renaissance Means Rebirth

I have a nice little “Renaissance” theme happening here on iBard. It fits nicely with my idea that I’d like to be a sort of postmodern Renaissance woman (which sounds much better than “Jack of all trades, master of none”).

But I’ve been thinking lately that my home region is going through a sort of Renaissance of its own.

The New York Times wrote a lovely travel piece about the Ville’s “cultural and civic blooming” over the last ten years.

In news a bit closer to my particular home, our church just obtained a decommissioned elementary school to become our New Albany campus. While no one likes to hear about a school being closed, (lots of my friends are local teachers) it’s encouraging that the building won’t sit empty.

In my experience, bad things happen when large buildings sit empty downtown. It will still get to serve that community. The Midtown campus is host to an annual free medical clinic, a fall festival, free marriage and finance counseling (the former of which I’ve personally benefitted from), and arts events. The plan is to use the New Albany building in much the same fashion.

Even closer to home (and even less likely to experience anything resembling a “cultural renewal”), I’m seeing encouraging signs of life in my own Corydon and Harrison county area.

Inside Arlston's Booksellers, Corydon, IN

A new independent bookstore has opened up on the Square downtown in the old antique mall building. I love antiques as much as the next lady, but we really needed a good bookstore.  Quills & Quibbles, the writers’ group I attend at the Harrison County Public Library, is toying with the idea of trying to get an art and publishing fair going.

Outside Arlston's.

Joe’s Records, an independent record store that specializes in classic vinyl and “antique” video games and movies, seems to be doing well in the shopping plaza next to Wal-Mart, contrary to the fact that most everyone has declared the independent record store an extinct entity.

Aside from their apparently deep commitment to Comic Sans font, Joe’s must be doing something right–they’re still around after more than a year.

Chris and I had a brief conversation over the weekend about how the internet has effected local businesses. We were driving past yet another empty big box (this one used to house a Big K – Kmart.)  He said “Oh how the mighty have fallen.”

I agreed with him that the internet has radically changed retail business, (especially for the K-Marts of the world), I said I thought it had opened up a lot of new opportunities for smaller fish. With websites like Ebay, Amazon, Craigslist and Etsy making it possible for them to sell all over the world, smaller businesses have even more opportunity than ever before.

So what about you, reader friends? Is the internet killing local business? Any signs of renewal in your necks of the woods?

Drop it in the comments, if you feel like sharing.


  1. ·

    It’s incredibly location specific in Charleston. There is no place in the heart of downtown to buy music. I guess the Internet killed that since it was always dependent on the college students. With them not buying there was no business model anymore. I can only think of one bookstore downtown that don’t just resell books for the college crowd.

    The one-two punch of Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn killed my favorite kitchen store when they opened on either side of it. However a new store opened a few blocks away and has been thriving. A new spice and tea store also opened down there and it’s doing well too. Where a record store failed a stationery shop is successful.

    So I guess the renaissance isn’t all doom and gloom, it’s just milling around.

    1. Kat French

      yeah. I think there’s a lot of shuffling and resorting going on. Sad about the kitchen supply store, though.


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