Where will the new normal take this tourist town? – Santa Fe New Mexican

Posted: August 19, 2020 at 1:59 am

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The chicken or the egg which came first? Tourists or locals?

Santa Fe has been a destination since the 16th century with the arrival of Spanish conquistadors looking for gold and religious converts, leaving a footprint as big as the Southwest across New Spains northern provinces.

From the beginning, we have been a tourist town. Santa Fe was such a draw that its name was affixed first to the main trail west of Missouri and then to a railroad that didnt even pass through Santa Fe.

We have become a local conglomeration mixed in a petri dish of DNA, customs, styles, tastes, likes and dislikes. Blame for the tensions now present in town belongs to no one in particular, yet all of us are living in a pressure cooker of uncertainty, hopes and fears.

Will our small businesses survive? Will we emerge from the pandemic in good health? Will we even recognize many of the components of the old normal? What will the new normal be like?

My fear, like many, is that the fabric of our economy could unravel to such an unprecedented degree that the stitching composed of the millions of small businesses will not withstand the pressures of their foundations being laid bare to the elements of the current economic storm.

Will Lowes and Home Depot squeeze out Big Jo True Value Hardware and Alpine Builders Supply? Or will our local businesses turn toward one another and get on the same economic bandwagon? Could the new normal become an economy still based on small, individually owned restaurants and retail establishments, small businesses like the Inn on the Alameda?

Could the new normal be even better? Quite possibly, America will yearn to rebuild in the old tradition, create a better environment with defined hipness and pride associated with shopping locally.

Maybe this COVID-19 experience will scare us all the way back to the past and what we recall as better times, when business owners recognized their customers by name. This will take commitment on our communitys part to pay a little more to maintain who we are.

Maybe a great starting place should be a friendly acknowledgment of others with more of a smile than a scowl, even while wearing a mask.

The inn is coming back to life, slower it seems than other properties, we believe, because we hitched our wagon to a more mature clientele, guests who do not want pay-per-view or room service, who arrive with books about Bandelier, Santa Fe, the pueblos, our art and culture.

These older profile guests are more health conscious during this pandemic. Hence they are more reluctant to travel right now.

I am at a loss to think of any better approach to craft the new normal than in terms of how we have defined ourselves over centuries of socioeconomic evolution a vast blanket of small businesses covering the land.

Joe Schepps is the president and co-owner of the Inn on the Alameda and has lived in New Mexico for 50 years.

Where will the new normal take this tourist town? - Santa Fe New Mexican

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August 19th, 2020 at 1:59 am