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By Thom and Joan Gorman
As owners of a tourist-related business, we feel compelled to respond to Larry Richichi's tirade in last week's Valley Reporter. I am sorry for whatever experience caused his anger but, truly, not everyone who lives here or visits here experiences the kind of treatment he describes.
Thom and I have owned and operated Millbrook Inn & Restaurant for 30 years and have seen many businesses come and go, but we have also seen many visitors return again and again and again. In fact, the single biggest way we lose our inn customers is by them buying property in The Valley to use either as a primary or secondary residence.
One of the great features of The Valley, and the one that induced us to
settle here rather than in Manchester, Stowe, or Woodstock, was the
lack of commercialism. Yes, it is more difficult to do business here
than in other areas and, yes, you have to work harder for your
customers, but the reward is their loyalty...and that we get to live,
work and play in this amazingly beautiful place.
There is a large, caring community here that pulls together and steps in with money and aid every time there is a tragedy that affects one of our families. It was through community effort that the health center got started; that the ambulance service grew; that the Skatium got built; that the Mad River Greenway was constructed. These are things that benefit locals and visitors alike and that, without the support of both locals and tourists, wouldn't have happened.
Our local Chamber of Commerce, which, itself, has gone through many incarnations over the years, is now a functioning body that addresses itself to the business needs of The Valley. By volunteering to serve on a committee or by attending open meetings any member can work to affect change from within.
It is unfair to suggest that The Valley is "dying on the vine" based on the economy of the last couple of years. The country is in the midst of a severe recession and, when disposable income is at a minimum, the easiest things not to do are travel and dine out so the tourism industry has been hit harder than others.
While we agree that we should always be putting our best foot forward and that we should always have that welcoming smile on our faces, to suggest that most people, most of the time, are greeted with less than local enthusiasm is not only unfair but also not representative of our 30 years of being in the tourism business in this Valley.
Thom and Joan Gorman own the Millbrook Inn in Fayston.