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Forget the ’08 candidates…Fredericksburg has its own polling going on.
The whiteboard in the front window of Riverby Books usually has something to say. For the past three weeks, it’s been in the business of public opinion research.
The board invites folks to come into the shop and answer a single question: Should chain businesses and shops be allowed in Fredericksburg’s historic downtown?
The numbers, as of around 2 p.m. on Monday, were nothing short of a landslide, with 174 “no” votes and a mere eight “yes” responses. (Another 15 or so “no” votes still to be counted had been posted on the polling board inside.)
Riverby owner Paul Cymrot said he started the poll to take stock of his customers’ opinions. There have been rumors of a few chain stores considering downtown locations, and “We kind of thought that where goes Marriott, so goes Starbucks,” Cymrot said.
He had a hunch that the numbers would come out against chains, but said he was surprised that the results were so lopsided.
He thinks he knows why.
“When they take the effort to come downtown, they’ve chosen not to go to chain-store land,” he said. “They want to go to places that are individually owned and operated.”