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Cynthiana will survive if everyone chips in

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By Becky Barnes

A few weeks ago and friend posed the question: “What are we going to do about our town?”
“Everything is closing,” said one of the ladies having lunch at Biancke’s.
I agreed and we commiserated. Up to that point, I suppose I was in denial. It didn’t seem like a “we” problem.
We talked about the bypass around Cynthiana and weighed its pros and cons, trying to determine if it will help or hinder.
Citing the re-invigorated downtowns of Paris and Georgetown and how their bypasses appeared to have no negative effect on their economy, one can only hope the same holds true here.
We hear comments and criticisms all the time about how a business or clerk didn’t do right by its customers. Then again, one has to ask, how “right” has its customers been to the business?
It’s easy to criticize. I’ve done it myself, even during that conversation with the two lunching ladies.
As I later pondered our conversation, I realized that I was no different than the others who are standing by and watching our quaint town disappear. What a hypocrite I have been.
When Ronald Ecklar had Old MacDonald’s Dairy Barn open on Main Street, there was a sign on the wall that said something to the effect, If you like the service, tell a friend; if you don’t, tell me.
I want to see Cynthiana thrive. I love it when we have the opportunity to write new business stories.
Several years ago, Antioch, like so many other burgs dotted across the county, had a country store. It was a place to grab an RC Cola® and Moon Pie® as well as the latest “news” (and I used the term lightly) of the community. You could get a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread and an occasional ice cream bar.
Forget selection. You could have whole milk, Wonder® bread and Premium® saltine crackers.
But, it was convenient, especially if you left Cynthiana without the necessary staples. You could expect to pay more, but it was still a lot less than it would cost in time and money to make the trip back to town.
There is a price for convenience.
When it appeared our country store was about to close, members of the community tried to help out by vowing to buy a loaf of bread or carton of soft drinks.
It was too little, too late.
The store remained open a little while longer, but ultimately gave way to the stores in town.
It’s time to circle our wagons around our Cynthiana businesses.
We all live in this community. And, certainly you have an option to go out of town to make your purchases. However, what if there comes a time when you have no choice but to go out of town? What if there is no local option?
As I sat in the dentist’s office last week and looked at the buildings downtown, I tried to remember what was in each one.
There used to be a department store that could be entered from either Main Street or Pike Street. Lerman’s wrapped around the Farmers’ National Bank and had a healthy selection of everything from shoes to dish towels. Across Pike Street was Cato’s, then Thompson’s Shoe Store, McDanell’s Sporting Goods was also downtown on Pike Street as was Patton’s Department Store. There was a First Federal Savings and Loan, Maiden City Office Supplies, Getz Jewelers, Clara’s Dress Shop, Renaker’s and Begley’s Drug Stores.
On one corner was Newberry’s and across the street was Ben Franklins where you could ride the elevator, which was novel for Cynthiana.
And, there was and is VanHook Hardware, which has weathered the storms and remains the place to buy anything from a single nail to a hummingbird feeder or a chain saw.
There are a few new businesses downtown, the newest being J.J.’s Sweets on Pike Street that opened this week.
I can’t stress enough the importance of patronizing our hometown businesses. The money we pay to them feeds back to our economy through payroll and taxes. That comes back to us through services like police and fire protection, paved streets, library services and even recreation.
It also comes back to us because we still have a choice.
I choose to shop locally.
Ten years from now, or 20, how will the next generation remember Cynthiana?
They won’t remember going to the basement of Ben Franklins at Christmastime to see Toyland. They won’t remember the lunch counters at Renaker’s and Begley’s where you could get the best chicken salad... ever, or a real cherry Coke.
I just hope that when they remember Cynthiana from yesteryear, that there is something besides a ghost town to remember.