By Terey Delisle
Last month I posed the question of what new businesses people would like to see in Trenton. I got a lot of positive response from current and former Trenton residents. I think this is because those of us from Trenton remain fiercely loyal to the city, even if we don’t live there anymore.
My husband likes to tease me about being from Trenton, saying that Trenton is like the Eagles song “Hotel California” — “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave,” referring to the fact that many of us choose to stay or move back to Trenton.
Even those of us who move away never really seem to leave. I know that I loved growing up in Trenton in the 1970s and 80s, and want the city to be just as memorable for current and future generations.
I have included some of the responses I received. I also got a lot of feedback from those who live in other nearby cities, showing that people from other parts of Downriver also feel a vested interest in the growth of the area.
Curt Cole of Trenton says “Whatever the business may be, it needs to be able to draw people to the downtown area to help bring downtown Trenton back. I would love to see A&W reopen as I have heard it is the oldest A&W in Michigan.”
Melvin Wilson of Taylor suggested, “I really do think that A&W could have been viable had they somehow added a drive-through. The people from Trenton engine would frequent it.”
The closing of the A&W certainly was sad. I wonder if updating it, including a drive-through or even expanding to “eat-in” seating, could have made it continue to be viable. It would not have to be just a seasonal business, then. I am not a big proponent of adding more fast-food places to the area, but it was a great alternative to the usual burger place, and was the perfect food to grab on your way to Elizabeth Park!
Wendy Randazzo of Wyandotte would like to see an ice cream parlor downtown. I heard several suggestions for coffee shops. Trenton resident Ruth Galko would like to see a dog park space in one of the city’s many parks.
These are some good ideas, if they could be profitable. An ice cream parlor or a coffee shop could be a welcome addition if you are strolling through downtown.
Elayne Petrucci of Trenton would like to see, “A bar that is a venue for live music!”
Along those same lines, Cheryl Gosselin of Southgate suggested, “A comedy club. Occasional stars, but mostly Downriver talent!”
These last few ideas certainly tie in with Joe Hoshaw’s October column, speaking of the potential “synergy” between different businesses. What if you could see a classic movie, live music, or a comedy show at the Trenton Village Theatre, have dinner and drinks nearby, and make a night of it? How about a coffee shop that features local bands? Trenton could even start competing with places like Royal Oak with offerings like that!
Jan McSweeney has lived downtown for more than 20 years and has seen a lot changes. She says she would like to see, “something for kids and teens to do. Something like an arcade, pool hall, or dance club for teens.”
What if your kids could spend an afternoon downtown, and have fun, safe things to do? I have fond memories of when I was a kid, seeing old horror movies like “The Incredible Shrinking Man” at the Trenton Theatre and then shopping at the “5 and 10” store. I really loved going to “The Disco Kid” in Riverview when I was a young teen, and later the arcade that took its place.
There are not many places like that around these days. I’m not saying we should go back in time, but having a space that is inviting to kids and teens will create memories of good times. When those kids are adults, they will be just as enthusiastic as we are to preserve the area. Maybe some of them will be future business owners in Trenton!
I know we won’t solve this problem today, or just by talking about it. Trenton doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The economy and unemployment are huge issues that are going to take time and big changes to get through. Still, the passionate responses and conversations I’ve been having on this subject really give me hope, and lets me know that we — the city, the state, the country — will come back strong, just like we always do.
I will be revisiting this subject in future columns, but moving ahead I will be looking at what Trenton businesses are doing right, right now, not just downtown but throughout the city.