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YOUR WEEKEND: Ride Downtown New Bedford’s New Wave

Awhile back I wrote about the critical mass of eating and drinking establishments opening up downtown. Led by not one but two brew pubs – Greasy Luck and Moby Dick Brewing Co. – it’s an indication that New Bedford is about to hit hyper-drive. Here’s further proof.

As Greasy Luck previews for members this very week, we’re also seeing a wave of new small businesses opening up or planning to open shortly throughout the downtown. Places like Hippo; the New Bedford Barber Co.; Purchase Street Records (opening Sat. Dec. 3); and Soap La Tea Da are joining the list of eclectic and interesting businesses already open. That list includes two wine shops, numerous galleries and gift shops, fashion outlets, a skate shopa book store, a frame shop and a tattoo parlor – to name a few different kinds of destinations. And of course, downtown is thriving with a full menu of independent eateries.  This great shopping guide by Groundwork! co-founder Sarah Athanas takes a deeper dive.

So, your weekend is simple: Shop Small Saturday downtown New Bedford on November 26! And, anywhere else in the city where the hard work and vision of dedicated entrepreneurs are putting it all on the line to keep the resurgent momentum going. Because that’s the path to a sustainable and fulfilling civic future – not so unlike the past.

The trend back towards cities that began in the late ’90s and gained steam during the first decade of the new century is really all about getting back to a grassroots economy. New Bedford has that history in its bones and is perfectly poised for a richer future reaping the rewards of the “new urbanism.”

Think about it: How long has it been that downtown boasted a book store and a record store at the same time? A permanent artisan market and a tattoo parlor? Collectively, these small businesses are just as big a story as the two brewpubs opening because it all goes hand in hand. But the narrative is the same:

Downtown New Bedford is hitting hyper-drive.

So, you’ve got plenty of reasons to Shop Small Saturday this weekend in New Bedford. And just so know: the City of New Bedford is offering free parking at your first metered space for up to two hours in both downtown and on Acushnet Avenue, or up to two hours free parking at the Elm Street garage and the Zeiterion garage through the holidays.

Steven Froias