I have a letter in this week’s New Paltz Times. Lest you think that my letters (this is my fourth in three years, does that make me one of those crazy letter-to-the-editor-writing people? Would that be a bad thing?) are particularly sparkling, I should point out that they print all letters. Hooray for small towns!
(Also, note that any weird small typos in my letter were added by the NPT editor. Very strange.)
MUDDY CUP IS A CHAIN STORE
So, New Paltz has a sparkling new coffee house, and with it our quirky town potentially gets a little less quirky. It seems entirely possible that Muddy Cup will put the coffeehouse 60 Main and the New Paltz Cultural Collective out of business. Wishful thinking tries to convince me that Muddy Cup will draw people away from the corporate coffee available at The Chain That Will Not Be Named. But since Muddy Cup chose to go into business immediately next door to a tiny, little forward-thinking collective, which is struggling to survive, the fate of 60 Main doesn’t look good. Since Muddy Cup is a chain (yes, a chain: eight stores with the exact same name and products in eight different towns is a chain, no matter what color the walls are painted) the owners are able to take a loss on it for a year or so while they drive out competition.
This is just the way the market works, I know this. Not being a capitalist, however, I would like to make a plea for politically minded New Paltzers to make an effort to support your local coffee houses. I will always support a wild, stumbling, shambling, joyful, alive place like 60 Main over a coffee shop so yuppified it looks like it belongs on the Friends set. That said, I am not against Muddy Cup – I often get the urge to work in a coffeehouse late at night when the other places in town are closed, and Muddy Cup will fulfill this need nicely. But I am also pulling for 60 Main to survive, because I think it’s an important community space.
I will be the first to admit that 60 Main can be a little off-putting. I do not like drum circles and I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing tie-dye. But though that might be the common perception of 60 Main, underneath the hippie faade (and I’m not critiquing hippies, if that’s what you’re into!) is a group of young idealists. They are throwing their entire lives into a coffeehouse that reflects their values: that people who harvest our coffee and tea should be treated fairly (they sell organic and fair trade coffee exclusively – and at better prices than Muddy Cup), that our environment is in serious peril and that our government is doing us serious harm. They are not afraid to lead with their values. Sixty Main is a wonderfully, sometimes frustratingly strange place, and that is why I like it.
As New Paltz becomes ever more geared toward leaf peepers and weekend NYC refugees, we must remember that we live here too. And we are a complicated, offbeat group of people, full of good hearts and good intentions – 60 Main reflects this.