Sunday, May 18, 2008

Lefty privilege

A consistent tension emerges here: the Town Council is intensely focused on marketing Port Townsend as a “Small Victorian Town” to tourists and new residents (mostly retirees from other places on the West Coast). That means no chain retailers of any kind, no stores that spoil this carefully maintained vibe, and “shop local” signs at every turn. As implied by the sign above (which manages to imply crunchy and elitist all at once), the town is a kind of theme park for progressive sentiment glossed with a decidedly upscale sheen. As a result, there are no department stores and very limited budget-friendly options anywhere in town. Water Street (the equivalent of main street) is lined with boutiques, artisanal crafts galleries, and upscale restaurants. A local mom told me that when she needed tights for a daughter’s dance class, she had to choose either fancy designer tights from one of the town's two upscale children’s store for $30 or drive almost an hour to another town to get basic ones. Yes, you can shop local, as long as your needs are oysters on the half shell, pricey blown-glass vases, and handmade jewelry.

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