Sunday, 27 March 2011

On what Gander needs

I wrote earlier about a lack of a proper center to Gander. Since then I have been reflecting on the matter and have come to an interesting conclusion based on past experience. In short, it needs local LeBarons.

For the benefit of those readers who don't know me, I grew up in North Hatley, where the LeBaron family has had a very important influence on the town since before its incorporation. The town grocery store has been in the family for over a hundred years and three generations. Joey, the current owner and her sister Naisi are who particularly interest me in the context of Gander.

As I mentioned, the LeBarons are local family who have been in the community for a long time and who have contributed much to it. Generally, they have been business people running various enterprises. I find it significant that the largest brick house in town was built by a LeBaron. However, prominence doesn't necessarily equate to the type of innovation I see Gander needing: I am reliably told that Joey LeBaron's father ran the grocery store with little imagination.

On the other hand, his daughter took the hard nosed business wisdom he gave her and combined it with an inquisitive and curious spirit she seems to have acquired during her adventurous youth. When she took over the store after his death, she brought in numerous exotic products and made the simple grocery store into what is probably one of the world's best. Admittedly, she had the benefit of the markets created by both a university/yuppie population as well as a wealth summer population. But the fact remains that she was able to foster and cater to a more culinarirly adventurous population. In fact, I think she has single handily raised the culinary horizons of the town, including that of the yuppie population.

As for her sister, well, Naisi has an artistic sensibility and talent that impresses me every time I see either of the two of her creations that hang in my flat. She combines her artistic side with a business acumen that while not quite as sharp as her sister's is there nonetheless.

What these sisters have brought to North Hatley is a wider, more diverse outlook on the world while at the same time, being local and business oriented. They were not outsiders to the community. As such, they could elevate the culture of the community without having to deal with complications of being some high-faluting city slicker.

This is what Gander needs. A few local people who can combine experience (culinary, artistic, or other) from elsewhere with a serious business sense and a willingness to take a few cultural risks to elevate the ton of Gander.

Don't get me wrong. Gander is a nice town. It is just that it could do with a few LeBaron types!

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