In the past, 35 year ago or so, I was around
town with an interesting friend o' mine and, if
memory serves, somewhere on second or third
ave, in the thirties I want to say, we chanced upon
a sea shell store. Who ever heard of such a thing!
A sea shell store. Let's don't be silly.
The shop was manned by a single serious
silver maned woman who told us there were two
other shops in the world like hers. One was in
Japan – the other, I don't recall.
No pedestrian shells these. Spectacular sea
shells and all maintained and cataloged with
museum precision. Every specimen sported a tag
telling where and at what depth it was found.
Wow, thought my head would explode. I may
have gone back but soon enough it was gone,
whoosh. The woman was on in years or, maybe
the lease was up. I don't know. Whoosh!
Variety is a bitch.
If in the tea section of your local
supermarket, you find 8 different brands of the
same type of tea(pekoe or English breakfast) and
each brand comes in 2 or 3 or 4 package sizes,
is that variety?
If I then step out of that supermarket and look
to my left to see a supermarket size discount
pharmacy two blocks away and then look to my
right to see a supermarket size discount pharmacy
two blocks away, is that variety?
Sometimes and often nowadaze, I come upon
one of those coffee joints(or your noun here) with
the floor to ceiling fish tanky window and the
solo student strivers slowly sipping 6$ 'spressos
whilst in a Vulcan mind meld with their laptop on
the table. Whew!! Those places come and go so
quickly now, one almost right next to another.
Their tastefully designed logos still on the
windows ain't even scratched cause they never
got dirty so they never got washed.
That's how that goes. Not my fortress of
solitude, no sir. I write on the subway. With a
pen, u huh u huh,
The guy who talks quite out loud just got on
and sat down. Today he's orating in Spanish.
What was in that spot before? They turn over
so quickly, I struggle to recall.
Was it a butcher?,
hobbies and crafts.
a fish store,
a kosher deli with franks
rolling in the window,
a knife sharpener,
a record store
a record store,
antiques & curios,
men or women's apparel,
a noble and elegant bookstore
of 19th century charm and design,
(your precious memory here),
How about just little stores that bear
the name of its proprietor like
“Drumpf's Golden Joys”.
And lastly, holy holy holy,
the corner candy store with the
soda fountain where,
you could get an egg cream,
or a model airplane,
or a pensey pinky,
the newspaper or Mad.
I want an egg cream.
I WANT AN EGG CREAM.
Now in my neck o' the woods, streets are
residential and avenues are retail/commercial,
stores with apartments above. Mine is not a
fancy neighborhood though unquestionably
valuable, desirable and even fashionable.
He's back in English now – car insurance
An avenue block – the short side of the rectangle,
provides about 8 store spaces of various or
inconsistent dimensions. Sometimes 2 or 3
spaces are combined into one larger.
If those 8 spaces are maintained as 8, safe to
say, nowadaze, 2 of those 8 spaces be empty.
Vacant. Available. Sometimes 3 stores. Vacant.
Postered large in the vacant window – large
enough to be read from the opposite sidewalk is
a realtor's notice. It says “Prime Retail Location”.
U huh, in other words, this abandoned worn out
solitary flip-flop is a roast beef sandwich.
A big nasty problem, here in the U.S.A.,- has
been for a while - is this; the big critical issues
We have – and there are a few – have to be
reduced to either/or analysis/solutions.
Chocolate or vanilla, good vs evil, this or that.
The great questions or problems do not run in
straight lines to opposite poles. They are more
like circles with interior areas and sometimes
they are as spheres.
We simplify these matters to death so We can
vote on it and then call it democracy. Doesn't
work. Hasn't for a while.
Everything is nuanced. Everything is multi-
dimensional. Really, I don't think I need explain
that to anyone...maybe.
Having an empty commercial space or
apartment in your building is not necessarily a
loss. There may be tax benefits. Incentives?
On-line shopping, with its savings, is
something brick & mortar shopping cannot
Very large(VERY) national chain stores swat
local businesses like flies. Splat! Deep pockets
pay big rents.
Rents are pushed as high as the market will
bare and then some. If that figure cannot be met,
then the landlord gets a write-off.
And you won't make that rent selling sea shells
or kites or fish or shoes. No way.
As far as Ma &Pa shops go, Americans have
lost the mojo to open and dedicate in those
situations. Nobody gets a 30 year lease anymore
and ultimately, the kids don't want to inherit and
run their grandfather's hardware store. Generally.
I have heard some political posturing about
rent control for commercial spaces. Really?
What is it they say about a snowball in hell?
Do immigrants and refugees coming for new
opportunity and a life of possibility for their
children ( you know, the ones from other U.S.
states ) want to see all the same national chains
they had back on rte. 137? About the same for
tourists I'd guess.
Even a real landmark heritage site like
Le Figaro Cafe' got plowed under by a beverage
conglomerate. Let us now pray for Electric Lady
The affect of this scythe is certainly grim
however the reaper is giddy and writ large on
his/her brow is “PROGGRESS”.
When you tell Us what We gain, why dontcha
tell us what we lose. It might matter.
We lose a particular class of employment.
Call it small business ownership. One might own
a business in their building or neighborhood.
We lose cohesion. Local social cohesion.
The social fabric. The precious social fabric.
We lose the American dream. I'm not sure that
that was ever much more than a bumper sticker
but that objective of the family working in the
store together and in shifts has been erased.
They've made it impossible, you can't even own
We lose(last thing, I promise) variety. We lose
charm and trust and familiarity. The city I grew
up in was a quilt of many villages. Now it is
more like a mall. Last time I checked, malls are
failing all over the nation.
That's it. I'm exhausted. Let's look at some
pictures. Thank You.