December 30, 2020

Local Business Owner Expresses Thanks for Generosity, Kindness of Princeton Community

To the Editor: 

Try to remember back to 2019. It seems like a different lifetime doesn’t it? As a small bakery owner and Princeton resident, I remember what used to be considered retail problems – high rent, power outages, road closures, and the like.   Don’t get me wrong: those were problems, but they were nowhere close to the existential threat facing our small businesses today. What LiLLiPiES has gone through is only one of many stories.

When LiLLiPiES closed last week due to a COVID-19 scare, I had to call our customers and break the news that their holiday orders would likely need to be canceled and refunded. These weren’t just faceless phone numbers I was calling. These were people I’ve known for years; people whose unwavering support made LiLLiPiES into what it is today. I dreaded making those calls. This has been a difficult holiday season for most and there I was taking away one more small beacon of normalcy. 

But as I started making calls, I was overwhelmed time and time again by the generosity and kindness of our Princeton community. Instead of focusing on their own loss of a special breakfast or dessert treat, customer after customer asked how our staff was doing, how the business was doing, how they could help! A couple of days that could’ve been extremely painful became days that I’ll forever remember as feeling most cared for and valued. Those couple of days helped me realize the power that each of us hold as consumers.

As we embark on a brand-new year, imagine what you’d like Princeton to look and feel like in 2021, 2022, 2023, and onward. As consumers, we all have the power to materialize that vision. Princeton businesses could be Mom and Pop stores, or they could be chains. They could support local schools and nonprofits, or they could just “maximize shareholder value.” Princeton could remain varied, exciting, and unique or it could become “Anytown, USA.” This is the crossroads at which we find ourselves standing.

Yes, 2020 was a painful year for many. But this year, teachers and students found new ways to teach and learn. Organizations like Mr. Rogers’ Kindness Project fed local residents while helping keep businesses afloat. Princeton businesses supported each other; gave advice to each other, helped other businesses to navigate PPP loans and other government programs and manage COVID-19 safety, and, most importantly, helped each other STAY OPEN. The Princeton community showed its support of local business by shopping local.

This year proved to me that our Princeton retailers will come back stronger than ever – because our community will support the Princeton that we cherish and the future that we want. If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that we have the power to save Princeton retail! Thank you, neighbors!

Jennifer Carson
Owner, LiLLiPiES Bakery
North Harrison Street