Starting off with a topic that you don't know about or aren't invested in puts you at a level playing field with most everyone else. Starting off with a topic that you do know something about or that you're passionate about requires that you realize others don't know or don't care about said topic with as much feeling as you do which is hard, because when you love something it's difficult to understand why everyone else doesn't feel the same way.
Our town's main street merchants have complained about traffic congestion caused by the farmers market that's held weekly from May through October in the small park kitty-corner to the library.
Their objection is that the traffic and lack of parking deters would-be shoppers.
I contest that the farmers market is the only thing that draws me to Main Street Falmouth during the summer season and while it was difficult when the twins were younger to find parking and ferry the boys from the parking lot to the market, it's easier now that they are older.
If I can make the effort to navigate the traffic, find parking at an off-site location, and walk my four children from where I parked the car to where the market takes place - because I have a vested interest in going to the market every week - then I believe the people who want to come to Main Street, to shop, to have their hair styled, or to eat lunch will be equally likely to persevere in order to reach their final destination.
The farmers market doesn't compete with the merchants. There are no grocery stores on main street. Instead the market creates and invites community, invites people to slow down, perhaps even stop and talk to each other or listen to the occasional live music. The market appeals to all our senses: sight, sound, smell, touch and taste; and thereby awakens us to our surroundings. Instead of rushing past on our way from point A to point B the market encourages us to slow down and take a look around. Might we not, after slowing down, notice a new store front or an enticing sandwich board and take the time to investigate?
The farmers market reminds us that shopping can be a warm, interactive venture and not just something impersonal done with the click of a button via a computer at 11 o'clock at night. Might this revelation not benefit the shop owner as well as the farmer?
In the musical Oklahoma Aunt Eller implores the farmer and the cowboy to be friends. Today it's the farmer and the store owner.
I'm sure there's a way for both to coexist and even to mutually benefit of the other.
song: Main Street • artist: Bob Seger