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"Tip your hat to downtown, Wendy Johnson"

"Talk about your one-stop shopping. That’s what downtown Winslow is all about.Think about it – you can pick up groceries, visit the hardware store, buy stationary, see a florist, drop off letters at the post office, and yes, buy a latte, all without moving your car once.This assumes that you can find a parking space, but that’s a minor quibble. Bainbridge Island enjoys an asset almost unique in this day and age – a functional downtown, as central to the island as a cultural hub as it is one of commerce.If you aren’t sure just how good you have it here, visit some of our neighboring burgs and look at their downtown business districts. Consider Bremerton – vacant storefronts cold and drawn, their vitality sapped by the vampiric forces of distant strip malls; Poulsbo’s touristy main street, charming for visitors but irrelevant to the needs of actual residents; Silverdale’s generic, chain outlets and featureless seas of parking, with no pretense at all of community or character.Please – no letters to the editor here about “island snobbery.” We spend more than a few of our own dollars in these shopping districts, all of which offer attractions of their own. And that’s our point. That a viable, pedestrian-oriented retail core – comprised of mom-and-pop businesses and hometown merchants – continues to thrive on Bainbridge Island in the face of such challenges is something of a miracle.That’s why we applaud the efforts of Wendy Johnson and her Team Winslow cadre. Their mission: to promote Winslow’s central retail core. Their strategy: give people a reason to be enthusiastic about downtown, and they’ll support it with their dollars.And we believe there are plenty of reasons to be excited. The possibility of a modest parking garage/retail alley south of the city hall building, new public art and beautification projects, new partnerships – all speak volumes about the creativity and participation that are flourishing in our midst. New faces are involved, new ideas coming to the fore. The emergence of Team Winslow as a player in city affairs, and the recognition of our downtown core as a centerpiece of national Main Street preservation efforts, will reap benefits for this community for years to come.Downtown Winslow still faces many challenges, as identified by Main Street consultants who toured the area last year. Among their observations were high rental rates; limited space for business growth or new enterprises; poor signage directing folks from the ferry terminal into the downtown retail area; business hours too limited to meet the needs of commuters. But Team Winslow isn’t giving up, and neither should you.Our downtown core is a treasure, and we ask you to remember this as the holiday shopping season gets under way. Every dollar you spend on Bainbridge Island supports locally owned businesses and nurtures this community economically. And your very presence reinforces its cultural identity. Take some time to visit Santa – in Winslow. Enjoy a round of carols or holiday music – in Winslow. Get to know your friends and neighbors, in the heart of your own community.Wendy Johnson didn’t start Team Winslow, but she has embodied its spirit, bringing vision and enthusiasm that have made other people want to get involved. As she steps down to renew her family committments, she leaves us in good stead.Take care, Wendy. You’re a valued leader and a good person, and we’ll miss you.See you around town."

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