Mass. town leashes chains

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NANTUCKET, Mass. (AP) – Nantucket has become one of the first Massachusetts towns to ban chain stores, approving a measure with a unanimous voice vote that will bar national retailers from the island’s downtown.

The move was endorsed by more than 480 residents this week at town meeting, validating a citizen’s article proposed by independent book seller Wendy Hudson.

“I’m extremely gratified,” Hudson said. “I guess it feels validating … people saw the balance and need to protect our character rather than this amendment just being another new regulation.”

The ban still needs to be approved by the state Attorney General’s office. It would bar any new chains with more than 14 outlets that have standardized menus, trademarks, uniforms or other homogeneous decor from opening downtown. The ban would not affect gas stations, grocery stores, banks and other service providers.

Other historic tourist towns have passed similar measures, including Bristol, R.I.; Ogunquit, Maine; and Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif. The driving motive for the bans is to preserve a quaint, small town atmosphere.

On Nantucket, Hudson’s proposal struck a chord. Last year clothier Ralph Lauren paid $6.5 million for a building on Main Street and hung his trademark polo sign outside an upscale boutique.

Other chains have tried the Nantucket market and closed after a few years, including Crabtree & Evelyn and Talbots.

The offseason – when the island’s population shrinks to 10,000 from 50,000 in August – is hard for many businesses.

The proposed ban would not affect the Ralph Lauren store. The town has 30 days to send the article to the attorney general, who will then have 90 days to approve or reject the measure.

AP-ES-04-06-06 1217EDT

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