In the context of a general melancholy feeling among some about the closing of Benny’s, Ted Nesi expressed an interesting thought on Twitter:
It is amazing that the PawSox have had so little ability to capitalize on sentiment in a state as nostalgic as RI
That does seem curious, but on the other hand, people’s nostalgia for Benny’s didn’t lead them to forgo the conveniences and prices of Amazon or even other local retailers and shop there more often.
The reality is probably something more like this: Only a segment of Rhode Islanders are actually all that nostalgic, or rather, all that nostalgic about a particular institution, and one would expect the sorts of people who participate in public life and news media (as producers or consumers) to be especially interested in local details.
That’s true everywhere, of course. Perhaps what makes it seem more prominent in Rhode Island — apart from the state’s size and general quirkiness — is a social comfort with letting relatively small segments use government to impose their interests. That is, whereas most people in Rhode Island (or anywhere else) will observe a departing institution and give it little more than the thought, “Huh; the world changes,” Rhode Island has a high proportion of people who feel like somebody ought to do something to make the world exactly as they want it (probably at public expense).