Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 30, 2012

TIM PRESTON: Downtown scenes, Valentine’s dinner, bacon and running

Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — I receive a lot of relatively useless “business news” and information on a daily basis, and this week’s batch included one that really made me stop and think. It’s no secret I have a deep love of downtown districts, so I was captivated by a piece titled “Internet Exiles Stores on Main Street,” written by Alan Greenblatt.

The story makes many points about the way we’ve changed our shopping habits in recent years, but the part that got me was this, “Open any children’s book with a scene set downtown and you’ll see a picture of basically the same row of shops. There’s a bookstore, a pharmacy, a florist, a post office and a bank, and maybe a bakery where the kids can hope for a free cookie.”

Add a record store to that mix and it is pretty close to what I think of when I envision a great downtown area.

 I got a little bit fascinated by the suggestion and checked a couple of children’s books with downtown scenes, and found almost exact drawings of the scene described above. Sadly, it is an image we may as well pack away with horse-drawn carriages and dirt streets.

While I’ll tell you I’d love to have a record store in downtown Ashland, those days are gone forever, and I couldn’t tell you the last time I actually bought a CD in a retail setting. I’ve always felt bookstores would survive because people who love to read also love to touch the paper and browse the stacks, but I know many rabid readers who’ve made the switch to electronic devices and genuinely seem to love the new format.

We still have a couple of good bookstores in the area, as well as other shops that have stayed in business for decades, but I fear we’ve already seen the writing on the wall for many of those businesses. I’m not certain what my point is with this, other than to encourage everyone who enjoys a particular small business to spend their money there before it is too late.


I had left out a fundamental piece of information in last week’s note about the new Colortyme store opened by Mike Courts at the Summit Plaza on U.S. 60. I was guilty of assuming everyone was already familiar with Colortyme, and realized that is not the case after receiving five or six phone calls from people asking if Colortyme is a paint store.

Colortyme is a rent-to-own business offering everything from appliances to furniture. The new Colortyme store will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and Courts is planning a major grand opening  throughout March. For more information, call (606) 929-5659.

For lovers

If you’re looking for a special way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, you might consider making a reservation for the Feb. 11 Valentine’s Dinner at Carter County’s Rock Springs Winery, which includes a wine tasting and four-course meal.

The menu for the evening includes an appetizer and salad along with an entree of “lemon chicken Milanese with risotto and Italian vegetables,” and Italian cream cake for dessert. Space is limited, so I’ll suggest you call and reserve a table for two as soon as possible. For more information or reservations, call (606) 923-9085.

For bacon lovers

Several weeks ago I wrote about a product called Baconnaise, which is essentially a bacon-flavored sandwich spread. After sharing it with the office staff and getting their opinions, I took the remainder home and have since enjoyed it on nearly every sandwich I’ve made. I’m at the bottom of the jar now and must admit I’ve come to love the stuff. It is not a substitute for bacon, but truly enhances a turkey sandwich in a way other whips and spreads can’t, and I’m ready to order more online since I can’t seem to find it on the shelves at local grocery stores.

An old buddy of mine, Joshua Hopfer, who now resides in Philadelphia, picked up on the baconnaise chatter and applied his decidedly-advanced brainwaves to  crafting his own bacon-infused sandwich spread. With a bit of experimentation, he chose to “flash an insouciant two-finger salute to the Artery Gods,” and reports he has come up with a winning formula which I will now share with our fellow bacon enthusiasts.

“It's fairly simple. The biggest trick lies in making the bacon sufficiently crisp that it crumbles readily. Beyond that, I do as follows: Acquire standard jar of Hellman's Mayo; Fry 1 lb. Bacon until crisp; Eat about 4 or 5 strips; Crush the remainder into tiny bits; Stir crushed bacon bits into Mayo; Add about 4 tbsp. bacon grease to Mayo and stir thoroughly.

“Allow to age in fridge at least overnight; the stuff gets vastly better with age. Total prep time: 45 min. + 12 hrs. aging.”

Yes. I’m going to make a batch myself this weekend.

Natural running

Due to physical circumstances I’ll never be a runner, although it is something I literally dream of doing. As a result, I’m overly interested in practically everything I receive from the folks at Next Mile in the Kyova Mall at Cannonsburg.

Rhonda Sizemore at Next Mile sent a note advising the people from Newton Running in Boulder, Colorado, are teaming up with the local business to present a clinic on Feb. 4 focused on ”the rapidly growing natural running niche.”

I’ll admit being intrigued by the concept of “natural running” as the subject of a workshop because it seems to define itself, but it’s actually an interesting concept and the Newton Running people have designed footwear that mimics the movement of a bare foot.

Clinic topics will include injury prevention, fundamentals of biomechanics and the science behind Newton Running’s products. Organizers say participants will learn “how to run faster, stronger, more efficiently and with less injury.” Participants wil also have an opportunity to take a test run in Newton Running shoes.

The clinic starts at 10 a.m. in the mall space directly across from Next Mile. For more information call (606) 928-7600.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.