Readers comments: May 13, 2022
There has been an opinion piece and several letters in the COURIER recently bemoaning the changing landscape in the Village that many of us have lived in for decades. There’s no question that the pandemic has played a major role in this, but changing times are a factor, too.
The loss of many long-time, iconic businesses in Claremont such as Barbara Cheatley’s, The Press, Laemmle Theater, the Candlelight Pavilion, Rhino Records, Video Paradiso, etc., has been a blow. Many of us hate to see these businesses close and worry that the Village and Claremont will lose its appeal as a destination without these unique attractions.
Increased rent has been touted as the reason for the closure of Rhino Records and Video Paradiso. To unjustly target the landlord as the villain in this story is unfair and totally inaccurate. The Bentley family doesn’t need anyone to defend them, after many generations of being respected merchants in the Village and owning the building that now houses Rhino Records and for decades was Bentley’s Market. The inaccurate information and innuendos that came out about Rhino and Video Paradiso moving out of their building because of a guesstimate of a 40% rent hike is totally incorrect.
Without going into the details, I can tell you that the Bentley family was more than generous to and supportive of Rhino Records during the pandemic when they were unable to pay their full rent for many months. A few months ago, when business returned to semi-normal in the Village, the Bentleys gave Rhino the opportunity to return to their pre-pandemic rent, with NO rent increase requested. Rhino chose not to take that offer. They made the decision to move to Montclair for their own reasons, and to suggest otherwise is blatantly wrong.
No one in the Bentley family was ever contacted to get the real facts about the situation before information regarding a large rent hike was published. That’s unlike our local newspaper, and I’m especially sorry this misinformation has spread and had such a negative impact on a family that has been an integral and positive force in this community for so many decades.
Mary F. Weis
Editor’s note: The COURIER stands by our reporting and the sources used in the story. —P.W.