To the Editor:
One reason I chose to make Southwest Harbor my home is the heart of the village. With its Harbor House, hardware store, bank, drug store and post office, Southwest has everything a community needs within a single modest block. Until recently. The closing of Sawyer’s Market is an unsettling change. While it was not a supermarket, its presence allowed residents to find everything we needed right downtown. It was a meeting place for boat people, well-heeled summer residents and locals alike. Beyond convenience, the market was also steeped in history. Many locals have fond memories of leaving Pemetic School at lunchtime and eating in front of the store’s picture window. The market also provided much-needed year-round jobs for young workers.
All things change, but not all things change for the better. In this era of Airbnb and summer rentals, many seaside communities have lost ground to seasonal commerce. While many of us depend on tourism to bolster the village economy, many more of us depend upon year-round businesses and shops to provide necessities to the community.
Southwest Harbor has been trying to buck this trend, as evidenced by the town’s strong opposition to cruise ship visits. But it is getting harder to find an affordable winter rental as Airbnb offers a more lucrative seasonal option. Communities like this depend on affordable housing and year-round businesses.
Along with Sawyer’s Market, we also close a chapter of this town’s history. Whether it is replaced by a year-round business or another shop for tourists to buy keepsakes will play a deciding role in its future.