Thursday, January 7, 2010

It's a Sad Day for Centretown

A few years ago, I lived in Centretown in Ottawa. One of my favourite memories from that era was going to Hartman's Your Independent Grocer and perusing the fruits and vegetables section while appreciating (or not) the musical stylings of whatever piano player happened to be playing there that day. One particular musician had a penchant for playing 80's and 90's pop hits by the likes of Billy Idol and Ace of Bass. It was awesome.

That's right - you read correctly. If you're unfamiliar with Hartman's, you may find it quite odd to hear of a downtown grocery store with a piano available for use by members of the community. It is odd in this day and age. It doesn't fit with the glossy, cookie-cutter image of grocery stores that we are used to visiting. The closest thing you get to music at most grocery stores is muzak or, at best, inoffensive adult contemporary over the PA system. Hartman's was different. The old wooden piano and the few comfy chairs set nearby added definite character to the store.

Today, I came across a blog post on Ottawa blog Apartment613 that delivered some terrible news: the piano is gone! Apparently, Hartman's needed to make room for a new flower section. Facebook to the rescue (I hope)! There is a Facebook group devoted to the cause called "Bring Back the Hartman's Piano!!!" According to the group's wall, this issue is going to start getting some media attention, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out (no pun intended). I hope that due to the outrage of its patrons, Hartman's will find a way to reinstate the piano. I believe it's in their best interest as the piano was a special touch that differentiated it from its competitors and promoted a sense of community.