Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Sign Of A Deeper Problem

Over the past year, or so, we have driven down Route 20 and have seen many "Going Out Of Business" signs, being held by people hired to hold them,  up and down Main Street.  The "business" is Sturbridge Furniture, and every few months the store had a "going out of business" sale.  I've wanted to write about this peculiarity many times in the past, but held off.  It was obvious that the owners actions were not being completely thought out, and although I can think a lot here in Fiskdale, not all that thinking has to be out loud.

This past Sunday, Thomas Caywood, a reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette not only thunk out loud, he wrote real good, too.

In an article entitled, "Recurring Sturbridge business closing draws consumer scrutiny".  The article is not only informative, but gives us a peak at what may be the real reason behind the multiple claims of "going out of business" by the stores elderly owner, Carlton "Warren" Marshall, over the last couple of years.  I won't degrade Mr. Caywoods words by paraphrasing them here; I suggest that you click the link and read the article in it's entirety, right down to the last three lines.

You see, there in those last three lines may lie the reason for the bizarre business behavior.

"But Mr.  Marshall isn't exactly apologetic about the issue.

When asked what he would say to people who feel the signs are deceptive, Mr. Marshall replied:  "Tell 'em to go screw."

Those close to him should have intervened, and offered better business advice.

But wait, there's more...

With all the attention given to illegal sandwich board signs here in town, non-compliant open flags, and all the other transgressions against our silly sign by-law, you would think that the folks "in charge" of doling out the signs, and sign permits, would not only be up to speed on our our sign by-law, but the General Laws of the Commonwealth when it comes to "Going Out of Business" signage.  It's obvious that Mr. Marshall was advised by someone at town hall to hire "sign holders", and not just hang the signs around town.  You would think that after the third time in twenty-four months those signs were hoisted on Main Street, that the "somethings wrong with this picture" alarm would be going off at town hall.

You'd think.

Yes, we can blame Mr. Marshall for scamming us.  It wasn't an attempt to scam, he did make sales during those repeated "going out of business" moments, thus he did scam.  We also need to hold someone accountable at Town Hall as well.  This should not have happened.  

If there isn't a person "in charge" at Town Hall, but several people doing little pieces of the overall picture, and not knowing what the whole picture looks like, then that should be changed.  Otherwise, we shouldn't complain when those "pictures" come out distorted.

Lesson learned.  I hope.

And, now on a completely lighter, but not too far removed,  note:


  1. It's Just Plain MeanTuesday, February 07, 2012

    I feel bad for the human sign holders, especially the ones left by the side of the road with no chairs, and no bathroom facilities. It really seems inhumane - coming from a town that has seems to have such pride, no less.
    Wouldn't it make more sense to allow stationary signs for these "special events."

  2. I agree. It is archaic, and mean. For a town to demand that static signs not be hung for events like "Going Out of Business" because they may look "tacky", but not to give much thought about people holding a stick for hours on end, rain, or shine is beyond common sense.

  3. Hello Wally,
    Well, it seems that someone's fear of "tacky" has struck again - just as we knew it would. The Town Hall/Center School renovation project costing $5.2 million dollars has left us needing storm windows, which, as of 2 years ago, would have been priced at over $19,000 - so, when the original project is complete (when?) we may, if we have the money, invest in the storm windows. If not, get this, we may go after more CPA funds! You know, the 3% sur tax funds on our property taxes which have left us with a dept for projects that, as of right now, won't be paid until 2030! This is after already having paid a huge amount to "restore" the drafty old windows we had in the first place. To use insulated glass, according to someone on the committee, would have looked too tacky.
    Well, after this, I am all for tacky, and can't wait to put a flock of pink plastic flamingos on my front lawn!

    Oh, wait a minute, perhaps we could just hire the "sign holder people" to stand on stilts and hold the signs in front of the windows to block out the cold.

    Here's a link to the Telegram article about the windows in case you haven't yet seen it:


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