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The Valley Reporter
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Don't blame the locals

By Michael Flanagan

I'm sure I'm not the only person who read Larry Richichi's tirade about The Valley's "rude and ignorant" locals with a sense of sadness, giving way to deep offense. Sadness that Mr. Richichi, who has apparently lived here all of three years, is regularly greeted with grunts and snarls while doing his daily errands in Waitsfield. I can only assume that if his personal style is at all like his writing style, the "locals" he is forced to deal with simply aren't all that thrilled to see him. I know that I expect, give and generally receive friendly, helpful and caring service when downtown.

I did find truly offensive, however, Mr. Richichi's repeated slights regarding these "locals" in a variety of areas, ranging from customer service to housekeeping and property maintenance. This struck me as especially odd when I considered the fact that Mr. Richichi, during the drive from his inn in Duxbury to Waitsfield, passes several beautiful, well-kept farms (we call them "Dairies of Distinction" up here . . .) and a variety of thriving, vital and, to my eyes, truly scenic Vermont-owned businesses: Hartshorn's Organics, Kenyon's Variety, Waitsfield Telecom and the Village Grocery to name just a few of many.

It seems that Mr. Richichi's aesthetic leans more toward what he refers to as "inexpensive decorations." By this does he mean more inflatable Santas, plastic pumpkins or illuminated Easter eggs? I'm not sure. I do know we have the good fortune to reside in one of the most scenic parts of New England, one that was cleared, settled and farmed by some of the hardest working people on this green earth.

I've only lived here the last few decades myself, Mr. Richichi, so I'm not sure whether I should count myself among the "locals" you deride. I can tell you that I have had the pleasure of working with and even employing a number of these locals and consider myself a richer person for it in every way.

As for Mr Richichi's citing of the passing of several local businesses to illustrate his belief that "the locals don't support us," yes, businesses here do sometimes come and go. That is part of the business cycle in a resort area where the quality of life may outshine the business prospects. People from elsewhere, like me, and perhaps like Mr. Richichi, relocate here and start businesses and hope they can make a go of it. If The Valley's business climate doesn't suit you, Mr. Richichi, don't blame the locals, try learning from them. Alternatively, perhaps consider moving to someplace where, as you so succinctly put it, "even if it kills you, put on a happy face and smile" are words to live by.

Michael Flanagan owns and operates Michael's Good to Go in Waitsfield. He lives in Warren.

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