Back in the mid-20th century, Cooperstown was a thriving local village, taking great care of its residents and neighbors with a Main Street riddled with all manner of shops and cafés, hardware stores and markets, a gas station, a car dealer, a bank or two and a movie theater, built in 1920, to fill up empty evenings and afternoons with glorious cinematic amusements. The Freeman’s Journal and The Otsego Farmer were on Main Street. too, welcoming all who had anything to say.
Today, with tourism now the major breadwinner for the village and high rents threatening, Main Street has changed. Many of the businesses that took care of our immediate needs in the past have rethought their uses and provisions, others have retreated to other, less central, outposts, and still others have closed their doors, their wares exchanged for Amazon boxes and envelopes outside front doors.
Were we to take a deeper look, we would discover quite a few shops and markets have indeed survived, a number in their original spots and some still under their original ownership, here for our purchasing and dining and refreshing pleasures: Ellsworth & Sill, still offering the best sweaters in the world; The Otesaga, the Tunnicliff Inn and the Lakefront Hotel, still with welcoming rooms and tantalizing victuals for weary travelers, wedding parties, baseball fans and houseguests; F.R. Woods, still a fascinating mecca for the many sides of baseball; Bruce Hall, still homing in on our construction, plumbing and maintenance needs; Danny’s, Stagecoach, Doubleday Café, Sal’s Pizza, Schneider’s Bakery and the Cooperstown Diner, still offering us daily nourishment, some never running out of those ridiculously delicious plain (not glazed) donuts; the Cooperstown Farmer’s Market, with twice-weekly seasonal, local food, flowers and crafts; Willis Monie, still offering those exceptional books everyone needs; Key Bank, sitting in the spot once occupied by the Second National Bank, and then the National Commercial Bank; the saintly legal establishments that have long hung out their signs in their same familiar spaces — Gozigian, Washburn & Clinton, Schlather & Birch, Poulson Law Offices, Green and Green; Rudy’s still supplies welcome libations, as does Cooperstown Wine and Spirits.
Outside the village there is Church & Scott, still offering us prescriptions and a place to park; Sam Smith’s Boatyard, once — and still — a place for boats but now, having introduced Dot’s Landing, a restaurant, a store and the new Mingo Market; the Fly Creek General Store, still providing food and a quiet place to confirm and question local gossip; the Fly Creek Cider Mill, off to a good start after a small hiccup; Bob’s Country Store, in Roseboom, serving as a gas station, deli and general meeting place; Staffin’s Auto Repair, expertly bringing all our cars and trucks and tractors and things back to life; Bennett Motor Sales, where we can find two- and three-wheelers that go everywhere and someone to tell us how to take them there.
We have lost good ones too: Derrick’s walked away; the Smart Shop hung up its dresses; Augur’s turned the page; the Shortstop ended its streak; Lippitt’s gave up its diamonds; Sherrie’s is no longer famous; Farm and Home went out to pasture; and those two hardware stores, McGowns and McEwans, put their tools away as well (Augur’s name still tops its entrance; McGown’s lurks behind the ivy. Look for them). Newberry’s and Withey’s and the Victory Market are gone. The Pioneer Grill became a reincarnation of Fenimore Cooper’s Bold Dragoon and now is Cooley’s; Reedy’s Tavern, a few doors down, became Dusty’s and bit the dust some decades ago. But the Pit, the Vet’s Club and the Mohican, miraculously and with good reason, survive.
We have some good new businesses too, and we could use more. But these establishments need your help. Let’s try to keep things local so no one else will disappear.