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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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Wake up, Waitsfield -- your town is dying on the vine

When will you ever learn? We need as many people coming to this Valley as we can get.
Why is it that Waitsfield continues to be a place where the locals are hostile to tourists and visitors alike coming here? As a business owner and moving to The Valley three years ago, it still amazes me how inhospitable many of the locals are.
They know nothing about customer service, or even how to greet someone with a "Hello" or smile. Instead they just grunt and snarl at you. It's as if they purposely go out of their way to be difficult toward outsiders. I ask you, is this a sense of entitlement, or are they just born rude and ignorant?
If the best we can do is to attract the low-end bohemian counter culture (who spends no money here whatsoever), God help us all!

Clean up your towns, pay attention to the aesthetics (details), and take pride in putting your best foot forward. Are we not even capable of making our towns look like they are ready for tourism coming to The Valley? Some sweat equity, a little paint and Windex would go a long way for starters.
Inexpensive decorations throughout the town would be great as well. (Look to Waterbury as an example.) At least they make an honest attempt with every changing season.
The truth hurts, I know, but The Valley continues to lose business and no one really cares. Yet the locals are the first to complain when they see their taxes increase.
For as much as you talk about supporting local business  -- the locals don't support us, i.e., "Lily of the Mad River Valley," "Alta Day Spa," "Spotted Cow," not to mention the many other restaurants and businesses that have come and gone. The restaurants here alone can't even keep consistent regular hours, due to the lack of support.
In this ever-changing world we have seen the difference one person can make. Can you imagine a town, or an entire valley? Whether you like it or not, we need tourism and local support throughout the entire year, and not just during fall foliage or ski season.
So even if it kills you, "Put on a happy face and smile, Waitsfield." Our visitors and tourists expect it and deserve better. Let's stop being just another one-horse "pass through" town on Route 100 and work toward getting people to stop and stay awhile.
Remember: We need the tourists more than they need us. They can always spend their money in Woodstock, Manchester or Stowe. Those towns also offer everything we do, and more.
As a business owner in the tourism industry, it's up to the locals to change the negative perception visitors have (and they do) of "Waitsfield" and its people.
I hope this message does not fall on deaf ears and you will rise to the challenge.
Please do not continue down the path of mediocrity that has been the "norm" for the past several years. It does a disservice to all of us who are trying hard to attract other business and tourism to this Valley.

Larry Richichi is the innkeeper at The Belding House B and B in Moretown.


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