A small group of business owners gathered this week at the American Hotel for the first meeting in the effort to create a new body that will advocate politically on behalf of Sag Harbor’s Main Street business owners. With fewer business owners living in the village, but still paying property taxes in the commercial district, it is time for the owner-operators of Sag Harbor to come together under the umbrella of a new entity that will operate independently of the Chamber of Commerce.
Under the leadership of Lisa Field and David Brogna, the chamber has developed a robust shoulder season of events that draws visitors and second homeowners to Sag Harbor, helping create a better year-round economy in a region largely supported by seasonal business. What the business community is struggling with now is a true cultural shift — that is not unique to Sag Harbor — but one that has been growing nationally for some time now. Shopping has become more and more an online experience as companies like Amazon, FreshDirect and Peapod take an increasing market share. The rise of meal delivery services, as well as home sharing services like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO, mean that virtually every business in the village is in the crosshairs. Couple that with parking concerns, traffic congestion and roads that are unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists and the loss of a year-round residents unable to remain in the face of rising costs of living, and there is a lot to digest.
There are bound to be disagreements in the business community. This newspaper happens to support the Sag Harbor Cinema project, which we believe will help business on Main Street. Others, whom we hold in high regard, have serious concerns about the proposal.
But if the business community of Main Street can come together and share a voice, and attempt to tackle some of the problems facing downtown today, perhaps we can retain the sense of community that has made Sag Harbor such a unique place as well as one that can sustain us.