[Editor's Note: The following a letter sent to fellow downtown merchants by Jeanne Street, owner of Sassy Shoe Company on Bank Street in New Milford, concerning the impending closing of Homeward Bound].

As many of us wander the streets the past few days, there is a sadness in the air about the closing of a neighboring store, Homeward Bound.

In these economic hard times, it is the saddest realization we are in fact in a crisis.

Customers loom in and out of shops looking for bargains and sales, all the while asking if your are running a sale or if you are closing?

It is a sad reality to watch our neighbor close their shop. People happily saying "ohhh, a sale," a going out of business sale.

What is going to happen to small town America if our fellow neighbors don't realize we are only trying to live the American dream, and what will move in to small town USA?

Another discount store filled with items made in China?

A store not even owned by an American?

What can one small shop owner do?

We cannot compete with T.J. Maxx or Walmart, and why would we want to?

The whole purpose of having a boutique is to have unique items you cannot find in a mall or discount shop. We all shop at these stores, but most of us shop at our smalltown shops where you can find most everything you need.

We will all miss Homeward Bound's energy. I send my best wishes to all the employees who were always enjoying our downtown shops.

I pray we somehow let our community know we are here not to make a million but to work and enjoy our shops and give back to our community; that we don't turn into some old ghost town.

God be with Trip and Kathy as they say goodbye to their American Dream.

Jeanne Street

Sassy Shoe Company

New Milford