Downtown boosters

High and Myrick streets may be Ellsworth’s economic legs, but the downtown is its soul.

Main Street and its side roads offer up an eclectic mix of restaurants, shops and services. The assortment of businesses and the locals who work there are unique. Where else can you find Sri Lankan food, burritos, craft brews, alpaca mittens, fossils, children’s apparel, retro soda, live performances and a creamery-turned-antiques store all within walking distance? Unlike at a big-box store or fast-food joint, you won’t have the same experience anywhere else in the world. Best of all, dollars spent at local businesses stay local.

After some challenging years, downtown Ellsworth appears to be on the upswing. There are fewer empty storefronts and more things to do. Threats, such as the surging popularity of online shopping, traffic congestion and a shortage of workers, have not gone away, but the downtown seems to have settled into its niche — leaving the mass-market goods for the big guys and focusing on specialty products and experiences.

The Heart of Ellsworth has taken the lead on helping redefine and promote the downtown. We applaud the group’s continued efforts, including the recent return of the holiday marketplace. The former J&B Atlantic space was again transformed from a blank slate to a bustling gift shopper’s paradise with several participating vendors and festive window dressings. It was an innovative solution, so it is fitting that the group behind it has just been awarded a $10,000 Downeast Innovation grant. Also fitting is that the award should come from another downtown organization, the Maine Community Foundation, whose Ellsworth office is on upper Main Street.

The money will support revitalization efforts as the group explores other creative ways to fill empty storefronts. It also helps the group collect data to further its efforts. We congratulate the Heart of Ellsworth on this most recent achievement. We can’t wait to see what’s next.

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