Newburyport, Economics and Power

Sometimes I think I am my own worst enemy.

Lots of folks read the Newburyport Blog, but my guess would be that if I went and looked for advertisers, almost every business would feel the Newburyport Blog would be too “controversial.”

In fact, I’ve been told that, the too controversial thing, by a couple of folks that I’ve approached. Apparently, the Newburyport Blog would be too hot to handle.


I look at the three previous posts, and think, for some reason, I just can’t help myself. It’s in my nature. Why can’t I just shut up and play along?

A “friend” said to me, if I “cooperated” (it wasn’t quite like that) that I would become powerful and sell lots of paintings.

Another sigh.

The Newburyport Blog has never been about “power.” That’s just never been my “shtik.”

And to have a billionaire, who not only does not live here, and has not bothered to pay (well once, I think) any attention, in person, to Newburyport, MA–just a real estate holding– shape our destiny, drives me (and lots of other folks) nuts.

If I was smart, like my “friend” said, I’d shut up and “smooze” with Mr. Karp and company and whoever, and make some dough.

The fact that I do not, is either one of my most major short comings, or one of my better assets. I’ll probably never have a clue.

However, I would be intrigued to meet the gentleman. And find out what he is like as a human being. That would fascinate me a whole lot.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Spirit and Soul

I remember when Atkinson Lumber was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Lagasse. It was beautifully restored. But any number of folks said to me, “It’s almost too nice.”

And what did they mean by that? Atkinson Lumber was a wonderful, space, that was available to all economic groups. There was something about the unfinished wood floors and the hustle and bustle of the place that always drew me in, and would be one of my favorite places to go in Newburyport, MA.

I rarely, if ever, set foot in the restored version of the Atkinson building.

I thought the Atkinson building restoration would be an anomaly. I couldn’t imagine that anyone would want to do away with the spirit and soul of a place.

But the high-end business plan for the Atkinson building seems to be holding true, whether it would be Mr. and Mrs. Lagasse or New England Development.

And the high-end spa that is coming, may come, or has come to town, slated for 1 Merrimac Street… 1 Merrimac Street to my knowledge is not owned by New England Development, but in someway it doesn’t matter. New England Development is setting and has set the tone for retail in Newburyport, MA.

I’ve been thinking why this whole Chico’s thing, the shoe shop on State and Middle Street thing, and the luxury high-end spa thing makes me so cranky.

It seems as if Newburyport is being turned, quickly, into just the sort of place I never wanted to live in.

One of the reason’s I’ve loved living here all these years is the wonderful and often eccentric mix of people. But a different socio-economic mix and often eccentric mix of folks, possibly not so good for a high-end business plan.

Possibly good for some high-end folks.

I often read that during the last 7 years, that there has been a steady divide in the wealthy and the less wealthy. And what if Newburyport ends up epitomizing that very thing?

Looking at New England Development’s website, it doesn’t outright say so, but if feels as if it could be very much implied, that Newburyport, MA is an already a ready-build, “life-style” center, with “Fifty top retail properties in downtown Newburyport and along the waterfront,” just waiting to be filled.

I can understand the folks who went through those terrible, terrible years before the 1970’s Newburyport turnaround, that having the possibility of the super rich living in Newburyport, however unimaginable that could be, would be far preferable to the boarded up, wasteland Newburyport once was before urban renewal.

Newburyport’s spirit and soul were in danger then. At the brink (or beyond the brink) of Karpdom, is Newburyport’s soul and spirit in danger once again? Once due to paucity, now possibly due to extreme wealth? Polar extremes.

Mary Eaton

Possible High-End Business Plan

This is my new theory on the plan that Mr. Karp and New England Development could have in mind.

It popped into my brain when I started reading about the very high-end European spa that is coming, may come, or has come to town. (See previous post.)

Maybe I’m too Yankee cheap, but I can’t see paying that kind of money for a haircut.

Question from a friend of mine–what kind of person would use that kind of very high-end salon?

Not a lot of the folks who live in Newburyport, MA, that’s for sure (at least I think that’s for sure).

High-end tourists. Or possibly, have the high-end shops in place and then use the high-end shopping, resort feel of the “new,” life-style, Newburyport, MA, to attract very high-end buyers for very, very high-end places to either live in or to visit. Not a bad business plan, if business and not community is what one might have in mind.

Mary Eaton

High End Are Us

Oy Vey.

Chico’s chain store… good story in the Newburyport Daily News, December 3, 2007, by Steven Tait. “982 women’s specialty stores under Chico’s and other names in 48 states… it sells clothing for ‘sophisticated women.’ The store’s products are marketed toward middle-age woman…”

This is from an earlier post on the Newburyport Blog, “…New England Development (NED) is thinking of stuff like the store on Middle and State Streets—’independently owned or small-chain outfits that offer something that complements, not detracts from, the existing retail mix of downtown….'”

Obviously Chico’s doesn’t fit that description.

And someone told me of a “high-end” salon coming to Newburyport, MA. I can’t figure if the salon is up and running, it’s snowing, and I’m too lazy to go out and take a look.

The address for the new salon is 1 Merrimack Street, Newburyport, MA–supposed to have opened November 2007. It’s December 2007. The phone number that was given was not working, and I could not reach anyone at the Boston location, 11 Newbury Street.

The person who told me about this salon said that a haircut would cost $100.

(Disclaimer: I’m probably the only woman in Newburyport, MA who is not a salon person. )

$100 seemed high to me.

I found this review at

“Dress to Impress!
By Carolyn C.

Runway is a great salon if you are willing to pay approximately $100 for a simple haircut. The salon is extremely trendy with a European feel. The receptionists are extremely friendly and cater to your every need. The clients tend to be dressed to the nines for their hair appointment and that makes the scene a little intimidating.
Although it is extremely expensive, this salon is truly a luxurious treat! Just make sure you are dressed to impress when you go in….”

(There were more reviews along that line.)


“Always a fashion leader, Runway Salon is the only true European salon in Boston. Recently featured on TLC’s “A Makeover Story”…”

High-end is Ok. But only high-end, not so good in my book.


I have no idea (not being a salon person) if this salon would be the sort of business that “complements, not detracts from, the existing retail mix of downtown.”

Mary Eaton

Swarms of Starling Visitors

Early Sunday morning hundreds of Starlings descended on my lawn/green stuff and madly started pecking.

Who knew that my lawn/green stuff could provide a gourmet meal for Starlings.

They would peck madly, fly off in a swarm, and then come back and peck madly again. The lawn would suddenly turn speckled, dark grey. But, I guess they’ve moved on, because I haven’t seen them since.

When I lived on the island (Plum Island) Starlings would descend this time of year onto trees that had berries on them. Well, that made sense, but my frozen solid lawn? Gourmet, yummy stuff? Got me.

I just assumed they were Starlings. But I thought since I was going to talk about them on the Newburyport Blog, that maybe I better make sure, well as sure as possible, that the fact that they could be Starlings, and not some other bird.

And it wasn’t very hard to find flock of Starling stuff on the World Wide Web. And sure enough, my trusted friend Wikipedia had info on Starlings.

Starlings, just like the one’s on my lawn.
Daniel Plazanet (Daplaza)
Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike

And I found out a very cool thing about Starlings.

“All the European Starlings in North America descended from 100 birds released in New York’s Central Park in the early 1890s. A group dedicated to introducing America to all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works set the birds free. Today, European Starlings range from Alaska to Florida and northern Mexico, and their population is estimated at over 200 million birds.”

That’s a heck of a lot of birds. And just a bunch came and visited me briefly, pecking madly.

Mary Eaton