To the Editor:
In times of financial constraint, capitalizing on quirkiness is often the best strategy. What sets Vineyard Haven apart from all other charming coastal villages is, let’s face it, that it is a dry town. Other harbors have wooden boats, other hamlets have shingled shops, the curios are nice, the taffy is still sweet.
As a former resident and fond visitor of Vineyard Haven, I have often wondered why the asset of being a dry town has historically been marketed with shame.
This is a curiosity. A wonder. Look at this. Such a town can still exist. A dry town. What does that even mean? What is it like? Things like this are what people comment on at cocktail parties when they return home to Indiana, Detroit, Boston. Vineyard Haven is missing out on a lucrative opportunity by not marketing this unique trait more positively. The best part — the twist — to this dry town experience is that you can actually drink here.
Alcohol isn’t banned, there are just archaic (but quaint and kind of cool) rules that tell you how you can do it. Alcohol is suddenly more than just a beer — it is tinged with the illicit glee most people ditch after too many college keg parties. A glass of wine becomes titillating because you have to source your own bottle from over the town borders, because you have to bring your beers in an iced backpack to any restaurant’s delicate meal. There is an adventure here, a different way of doing things. You can still get buzzed and have a good time, you just need to bring your own. You aren’t limited to the selection (or pricing) of the restaurant. If you want PBR or Dom Perignon, you can have it. In this argument between silent streets and lengthened lounging hours, it seems that both are poised to win if you turn the problem a fraction of an inch in a re-branding direction. This dry town Vineyard Haven is something to try, to experience. It’s not a hassle, it’s a way to show off your ability to adapt to another culture, to succeed at something different. It’s rugged, individualistic, identity-oriented; crafty, cool, and definitely worth trying. Rarity is an asset, exclusivity breeds touring souls. There seems to be no solid reason to sacrifice the obvious sanctity of the town as a restorative, relaxing, solid, sweet spot of vacation tranquility. People pay to leave what they already know, they spend to experience refreshing air and simple silence. They like to go with friends. And eat really good food. There is more cash to be made by shedding the shame and embracing the idiosyncrasy. In a world homogenizing faster than polar bears can wear polo shirts to get enough hits on Youtube, Vineyard Haven is still a wonderful place to escape the expected normalities and embrace each one’s ability to have a sense of humor paired with the ability to adventure. If you re-brand the town as everything it is plus this intensely original trait, give clever instructions on how to act like someone in on the game and then create merchandise to lift the identity further into the public view, you basically stand on a Vineyard Haven 2.0, in which everyone wins. The Black Dog did it with a dog. Why not do it with something so much more important, interesting, and in this day and age, unique? Amy R. Carpenter