This is our High Summer issue of Edible Vineyard and it’s published as our Island population reaches its highest level of the year. Every Vineyard company is popping, and our business owners, farmers, restaurateurs, fishermen, and tradesmen all have one thing in common: They are all small business owners. Most of you have probably noticed that Martha’s Vineyard doesn’t have a lot of chain stores or franchisees. The ones we have — Napa Auto Parts, Stop & Shop, Dairy Queen, the gas stations — have mostly been here a long time. We do not welcome big business or corporate America with open arms. We create our businesses around our lives on the Island. We adapt and hire sometimes vastly overqualified or easily trainable employees with little experience. We hire our friends, our family, friends of friends, and children of friends. We have created a community that is fiercely loyal to supporting these businesses.
“Small” is a positive on the Vineyard in many ways but it does have a downside. Businesses are stretched thin, and understaffed; just try and find a plumber or electrician. When the bread runs out at The Grey Barn or the Scottish Bakehouse, that’s it for the day. Services, trades, and commerce operate in a world that is finite on the Island. The Island does import workers in the summer — far fewer this summer due to immigration restrictions and COVID, but housing is extremely limited, even more so now with the real estate boom and more houses being bought up as second homes, and not available as affordable summer rentals.
For businesses to keep up with demand, the Vineyard business community is learning to say no; they are closing a day or two a week, something unheard of in the past during the season. Businesses are aiming to preserve the employees they have, keeping them healthy, mentally and physically. But it still can be too much for anyone working in the service economy here on the Island.
We all think the Vineyard is special for our own reasons. We at Edible Vineyard would say that our caring community — the resilient engine that keeps the Island going — is at the top of the list. While you are enjoying all the Vineyard has to offer at the height of the season — the farms, the food, the beaches, the solace, the history, the unspoiled beauty — please remember the local business community and their workers. They are all busting their butts more than ever before with smaller staffs than ever before. Maybe start your morning latte with, Good Morning, how are you doing today?
–Tina Miller and Jamie Kageleiry