In Brief Urban Outfitters Downtown January 2, 2009 Waldo Jaquith 58 Comments Urban Outfitters to open up in the old Hardware Store. Ugh. The very worst of Old Town Alexandria, right here in C’ville.
58 thoughts on “Urban Outfitters Downtown”
I worked in Old Town – before and after the arrival of the chains. When California Pizza Kitchen showed up – I moved to Charlottesville. :)
Isn’t this old news? I may not like the store but it has to be better than empty store fronts. I’m just glad to have someone respond to the younger demographic. As long as they don’t make their storefront ugly why should we care? I’m not saying I want every store to be a chain but some of them why not.
For example I think Sips is a very silly wine bar that is probably in violation of the ABC 50/50 food/wine balance. That just a guess based on my limited observation. That said it bothers me not at all that people go there and seem to enjoy it.
No. I’ve heard rumors of a half-dozen different stores opening there, but they were all just that—rumors.
That’s a false dichotomy. I might not like having a hot poker in my eye, but it has to be better than a lobotomy! You know what’s better? Not having a hot poker in your eye.
What on earth is wrong with a chain store?
Just one, probably nothing. But once they multiply… Well, just consider why you spend less time at Fashion Square than the Downtown Mall. Or Lisa could tell us how Old Town Alexandria changed when the chains moved in.
What on earth is wrong with a chain store?
Absolutely nothing. The hatred of chain stores is silly. Not to mention hard to define.
I don’t recall a ton of protests when Five Guys came in, and that’s a chain. Christian’s is technically a chain.
You know what’s better? Not having a hot poker in your eye.
If I’m a business owner next to the building, I’ll sure as hell take the hot poker in my eye (the chain store) then the huge empty storefront next to me.
That entire side of the Mall is going downhill fast, and it’s largely because there’s little worth going to there for. IMHO, the Mall is generally a glorified food court to begin with now — count how many people you see carrying shopping bags. It’s very few. If the Mall is going to survive (at least that end of it), chain retailers are part of the solution.
As chains go, Urban Outfitters drives its business by being choosy about what they stock and not by advertising. In my opinion that makes them less hollow than your average chain.
Now, after looking over the men’s clothes on their site, all I can conclude is “ugly and uncomfortable is the new black.” Pass.
Really, Chad? You can’t summon one thing that’s bad about chain stores when compared to locally-owned stores? Imagine that Foot Locker established a local branch of a new Foot Locker Sports Club. They offer softball, kickball, volleyball, dodgeball, golf, and football. They’d be just as good as the Charlottesville Sports & Social Club? There would be no benefit to folks being a member of your organization, rather than Foot Locker’s?
Waldo’s right, they suck money out and only provide the lowest paying jobs in the market. They are absolutely taking over retail in this country. Most shopping strips and malls are entirely chains. Even small quirky retail ideas get the attention of someone with more money and get chained out. The percentage of total retail sales that go though chains in the US is something like 75%. The last twenty years in retail have been one big historic colonization. The chains have many advantages, including psychological appeal.
Even five years ago, McD, Starb, etc., had almost nowhere left to go but inner cities and far rural areas. Now that it is built out, the chain concept is attacking even minor retail concepts, probably to diminishing returns. The Marxists used to talk about “the declining rate of profit” in capitalism, and it never happened. But after this credit crisis, whenever it ends, the next wave of plastic may finally be enough to give us all melamine poisoning.
“Waldo’s right, they suck money out and only provide the lowest paying jobs in the market.” So, JCPenny’s, Belk and Sears pay less than, say, the Chimney Corner and Mattie Hill and Levy’s?
Are these franchise-owned or corporate-run stores? A franchiser is going to use local resources and pay local taxes the same way a mom/pop store might. Most franchises are owned locally.
Charlottesvillians like 5 Guys and even welcomed a second store after the first local one opened at Barracks Rd. They are a regional company. A while back, Baskin-Robbins failed downtown, but I honestly think that we would have supported a Ben&Jerry’s in the same spot, because it is much more distinct business plan than Chap’s and isn’t necessarily direct competition. (Although Chap’s is fantastic.) Cville is a very picky market, and I don’t believe that it is just as simple as chain operation/small enterprise.
I think that the real argument here is what residents perceive as a “good” business that will contribute to the atmosphere of the mall, without generalizing the shopping experience. Urban Outfitters aren’t everywhere- I think there is one in Harvard Square, but I don’t see them all over, as opposed to oh, the Gap. The Gap would be out of place, but UO might bring shoppers.
There is a place for same-old-predictable shopping offerings, such as malls and highway exits. Charlottesvillians are more apt to defend the downtown area as a unique-but-convenient shopping area, and that identity is going to be more difficult to define, especially as more businesses are going belly up lately.
How do local businesses provide more high-paying jobs than chain stores? Don’t they have managers and sales people also?
I am always somewhat disconcerted to see chain boutique stores in small towns. It’s somewhat jarring to see the Gap while walking in Doylestown or Newtown, PA (old colonial towns). On the other hand, they do bring shoppers from different demographics to the same space. (Gap was historically the “rich” kids’ store in my social circle. I grew up in rural Indiana. The nearest Gap was several hours away.)
That said, I prefer the urban model to suburban sprawl.
I like Urban Outfitters. I enjoyed it on M Street in DC when I lived there. Now, though, I doubt anything sold there would fit me. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have to drive up 29 to find kitschy decor. I like that idea.
And it’s good to have variety. Given the price of rent downtown, there’s only so many types of stores that can open. And I can’t afford 300 dollar tunics or designer bedlinens, but I can certainly spring for a 20-30 dollar shower curtain. It’s nice to visit the mall when I need something more than tea, ice cream, or 40 dollar toddler shoes.
Cville Eye, yes, the lower workers at locally owned stores can make somewhat less money and have fewer bennies (as Wal-Mart claims), but the profits at chains never stay local to circulate & multiply. Also the chains are less likely use local suppliers, etc.
Whether chains or local business, that’s the truth. I get the impression that there was greater variety of services (both in types and in price point) back in the 1950s-60s, but I don’t know for sure if that’s so.
I would go so far as to say a Gap or Starbucks would be positive additions to the mall.
There has to be a draw to the downtown mall, rather than lots of little, expensive stores. If I were a business owner on the mall, I would much appreciate the increasing number of people who might see the downtown mall as a shopping destination.
Anyone who has been to Boulder, Denver or Burlington can see that chain stores are hardly a detriment to downtown walking malls.
@colfer, what locally owned clothing or shoe stores, for example, use local supplies? Or are you talking about local paper forms, pencils, etc.
@Waldo, “…I get the impression that there was greater variety of services (both in types and in price point) back in the 1950s-60s…” and you should trust your feelings. Miller & Rhoads, Belk, Ed Michtom’s, C. H. Williams, Charlottesville Hardware, Advance Stores, Joe the Motorist, dry cleaner(S), shoe repair, H & M Shoe Store, Shoe Center, A & N, Downtown Athletic, Grand Piano (M. C. Thomas) Furniture (two stores), Better Living lumber and home furnishings (Garrett and Avon), A P supermarket, Bibb’s Fish Market, W. T. Grant and McCrory’s 5 and 10 cent stores, Paramount and Jefferson first-run movie theaters, Omohundro Electric, Dodge dealership (Market St), Hill and Irbin Funeral Home (Market St)just to name a sample of the variety. During that time Barracks RD was a small shopping center, mainly the North Wing and most people relied upon downtown for just about anything they needed other than maybe a backhoe.
Of course there was H. M. Gleaso’s where you could get hardware, lawnmowers, chickens and feed on Garrett and S. 1st St.
@Rick, Starbucks? really? I don’t object as strenuously as some do to certain chains appearing in Charlottesville, but the Mall needs a Starbucks? What do they offer that Mudhouse and Java-Java (just to name two) don’t?
would it be the same Cecil if Greenberry’s came to the mall? They are a local started chain. The arrival would probably hurt Mudhouse or Java-Java.
Waldo is a store with a nice front that I never go in the same as a hot poker in the eye? I’m going to say no and point out that the high dollar paper store is a chain and the average person here probably rarely enters it. Does the Caspari need to go?
All sorts of things would be better there than Caspari. That place doesn’t hold a thing that a single soul has any use for. The good news is that (I speculate) it pays relatively well, as retail goes. The bad news is that, unless it’s a locally-owned franchise, all of their profits leave Charlottesville and go elsewhere, and they are presumably substantially uninvolved in the downtown business community.
BTW, “chain” is a shorthand for “out of town business.” There’s nothing wrong with Bodo’s, Greenberry’s, Christian’s, etc w/r/t chaindom, because they present none of the problems that out of town businesses do, and all of the benefits of local businesses.
I believe that Caspari, which has quite easily the worst customer service in town, is owned by people who live here locally. Their other store is in Paris. I heard that they live in that swell apartment above the store with the terraces and plants, but could be mistaken about that.
We go into Caspari somewhat regularly in order to NOT be waited on… yet again.
I’m not sure where the profits go, but their wages stay here. I do not see a lot of local people standing in line to open businesses on the Mall so it looks like businesses owned by outside corporations will have to pick up the slack. Our business districts are beginning to look like the aftermath of Katrina and people prefer shopping in bustling districts with lots of options. Between 9 and 5, the Mall looks like a ghost town.
They’d be just as good as the Charlottesville Sports & Social Club? There would be no benefit to folks being a member of your organization, rather than Foot Locker’s?
Foot Locker would probably target to put me out of business by operating at a loss, so until that happened, people would benefit by getting whatever additional stuff Foot Locker offered (discounts, etc) instead. Once that ended, then there’d be an opportunity for local businesses to outperform them.
Anyway, what Cville Eye said:
I’m not sure where the profits go, but their wages stay here. I do not see a lot of local people standing in line to open businesses on the Mall so it looks like businesses owned by outside corporations will have to pick up the slack.
There has been (and is still) plenty of options for local businesses to come onto the mall. It’s simply not happening. With this economy, I’d rather see jobs created than empty storefronts — bring on the chains.
Well, just consider why you spend less time at Fashion Square than the Downtown Mall.
Also, Fashion Square is an outright terrible mall. I can’t really imagine anyone making an argument that it’s not.
Urban Outfitter’s arrival is largely good news. It will bring a demographic of shoppers to the downtown mall who probably largely do much of their shopping at Fashion Square or Barracks Road now. Those shoppers will likely also get coffee or lunch while they’re at the mall and peruse some of the other shops. A mix of chains and local will ultimately bring more people to the mall, which will be good for all businesses there. What would be ideal is if someone could start a local business that sold similar merchandise to UO or other popular chain retail stores, at similar prices, that could develop a reputation among the Fashion Square dwellers. But to the best of my knowledge that hasn’t happened, and the obstacles to such stores would be great.
Once again, even though Waldo et al refuse to acknowledge, let alone discuss it, the problem lies at the macro-economic level: it is very difficult for small businesses to compete for talent when NEEDED benefits such as valid healthcare packages, standardized vacation and sick leave times, are left up in the air.
Only the larger corporations have the means and leverage to make it viable, save a few exceptions and of course certain businesses, like restaurants and such. Until such time businesses can offload these burdens onto the the larger economy, which would benefit us all on multiple levels, only the big guys will survive or thrive.
I think it is now more than obvious there’s dysfunction in our way of doing things. When will Joe and Jane Public come to this realization, without which, nothing will go in the right direction?
I like shopping at Fashion Square because, if I want to go to Sears, I just park near it, go in the door, get what I want, and then walk out the door. Simple. The same if I wish to go to JCPenny’s. I have never had to spend more than a half of an hour in the building. Oh, and I don’t have to put up with cold or heat or panhandling.
Megan appears to be right. Before the first leg of the Mall was installed, there was a great mixture of regional stores such as Miller and Rhoads, national stores such as Sears and the catalog outlet for Montgomery Ward, and lots of locally owned stores such as kauffman’s. If a woman wanted a dress, she had at least ten stores to shop in. If she wanted shoes, she had at least five. So locals and chains had a symbiotic relationship so nobody complained about the other’s prescence. If the Mall, Preston and Cherry could double their sales, maybe the taxes on houses in the city could be reduced so that ownership would become more affordable.
Really, Chad—that would be the only difference between you and Foot Locker? They’d do the same job as you, only cheaper? You can’t summon a single way in which you do your job better than an out-of-town chain? I sincerely hope that’s not so.
Huh? When in the world have I “refused” to acknowledge or discuss such a topic? (Hint: never.)
I believe what you mean to say is that I prefer to discuss micro-economics, while you prefer to discuss macro-economics. And that might be true. But I don’t buy your claim that small businesses provide better benefit packages than chains. I’ve run a small business, and I thought I provided some decent benefits. My family runs a small business downtown, and their benefits are great. If there’s a correlation between size of business and quality of benefits, I don’t know about it, and Walmart would have to be a significant exception from any claimed norm.
Does Gold’s and ACAC follow that model? Crutchfield and Best Buy?
I’ve only known one person who worked at Gold’s, and he hated it. I’ve known a half dozen people who work at acac, and they really like it. I’ve known easily two dozen people at Crutchfield, and the job satisfaction is really high. I’ve never known a Best Buy employee, only interacted with them at the store, and they look beaten.
So, yeah, that seems to be borne out there.
So, Chad Day, by providing excellence, your group can defeat anything that FootLocker can bring in.
I think Chad would own Foot Locker. He’s got at least a half dozen advantages over them, all of which are ultimately to the benefit of his customers.
Really, Chad—that would be the only difference between you and Foot Locker? They’d do the same job as you, only cheaper? You can’t summon a single way in which you do your job better than an out-of-town chain? I sincerely hope that’s not so.
I myself was an out of towner in 2006 when I started the league to begin with. Granted, I would have some things in my pocket (relationships with Parks & Rec, loyal customer base, etc.), but I’m not naive enough to think that a massive influx of cash and Foot Locker hiring people who knew Charlottesville as well wouldn’t hurt me.
I’m going to appear to contradict myself big-time here, but I’ll explain.
It’s not a widely kept secret that the club is about to expand into Richmond where an existing kickball “chain” (WAKA) is at. I’m doing it based on the fact that I think I can provide a better service at a lower price, as well as put more effort into it.
Bottom line is, if those chains/companies wanted to put enough effort into wiping out/crippling the independent leagues, they could. They could pay off the parks department to grab my field space, hire programmers to design a better website, outspend me 10 to 1 in advertising, hire paid officials, etc. Whether my league does a better job or not at that point is academic — many a better burger joint has gone south because a McDonald’s opened up down the block.
For some reason or another, they don’t. Probably due to them just being content with grabbing the low-hanging fruit, and the time/effort/profit ration isn’t worth it.. my point was that it *is* possible for them to provide a better service despite being a chain, due to their massive competitive advantages.
Oh come on Jaquith! The only real opportunity in a small biz (less than 50 employees) is to actually own that biz. I too have owned 2, one of which is still in business, but I will freely admit my healthcare package is nowhere near those of the big boys in the same sector. Plus, my best talent will never get the opportunities big corps can offer. I’ve also worked for both large and small, and there’s no comparison.
That’s the way things are. You can deny it as much as you want to, making yourself feel better perhaps, but it’s not going to change reality.
And yes, macro-economics eventually drives what happens at the local level. That’s why Foot Locker can come in, or the big supermarket chains will eventually overrun Reid’s. It’s so obvious! Until people are willing to face reality as it is today, rather than fabricating an illusion of glory days past, little will move in the right direction. And that includes small-town Charlottesville, despite UVA and the old money here.
@Majunga, inspite of competition from Harris Teeter, Giant’s, Food Lion, etc. Reid’s is expanding it Preston Avenue location.
@Chad Day, “…and the time/effort/profit ration isn’t worth it…” to the stockholders. GE, CitiGroup, etc. could all spend tons of money to take away your clients, but there’s nothing for them to gain since they are in the business of making money.
Chad, I think we’re talking about two different things. I’m talking about how chains generally behave, not a hypothetical ideal. So I think we’re actually agreeing here. We both believe that small, local businesses can and often do outperform chains, primarily by offering a better product or service to customers, but that this doesn’t necessarily equate to coming out on top in the marketplace.
If I’m flipping burgers at McDonald’s, if I’m really lucky, I might end up managing that location. How is that any better than working at a local burger place?
Your Business != All Businesses. For that matter, what’s your deal, not offering better healthcare? Don’t you want your employees healthy?
It sounds to me like you’re in some line of business that has very little to do with how most small businesses operate, and you’ve universalized that experience in a way that isn’t externally valid.
Shorter version: I am right and you are wrong for reasons that I can’t explain! That’s not gonna change any minds. :)
My #1 concern about Urban Outfitters opening in that space is: Their location design ethic (brushed steel, concrete, frosted glass) is at odds with the building itself… And The Old Hardware Store is one of my favorite storefronts on The Mall. Those beautiful hardwood stained glass doors and display windows. I sure hope they don’t destroy the whole facade to conform to the standard UO look.
“If I’m flipping burgers at McDonald’s, if I’m really lucky, I might end up managing that location. How is that any better than working at a local burger place?”
So, working for a big employer means flipping burgers?
Your Experience != All Experiences.
“It sounds to me like you’re in some line of business that has very little to do with how most small businesses operate, and you’ve universalized that experience in a way that isn’t externally valid.”
Yes, my industry is certainly not commonplace in these woods, but you are supposing – incorrectly – that’s the only experience I have. Fact is, I’ve probably had more types of real jobs, not just college stints, than you’ll have in 2 lifetimes.
FWIW, I offer better net compensation to handle the fact I cannot provide major league health insurance at a reasonable cost. The point being, it’s not a level playing field and that benefits no one.
In any case, Jaquith, I’m not inventing anything here: the modern business landscape is what it is, and your illusions will not change that.
“Shorter version: I am right and you are wrong for reasons that I can’t explain! That’s not gonna change any minds. :)”
Changing minds is more about changing perceptions, which is incredibly hard. Jim Duncan provided a good reference with “Made to Stick” (Heath & Heath), the conclusion of which you really need critical mass to shape people’s [feeble] minds. More times than not, that requires BIG rather than SMALL.
@ Patrick A. Reed, the city has long-time design control for that district, jealously guarded by Mary Joy Scalia and the Board of Architectural Review. Of course their decision affect the exterior of the building and windows viewable from the street. UO can do what it wants “behind closed doors.”
Are there clothing merchants downtown that would be in direct competition/jeopardy when UO opens?? I can’t think of a locally owned or out-of-town store nearby that has clothes for college kids, unless it’s Barree Station on the corner or something in the mall. Is there a locally-owned store that has plans or opportunity to fill that market downtown?
Charlottesville is very rich with home-grown businesses that are doing very well fending away out of town competition already. If I were Einstein’s Bagels or California Pizza Kitchen, I would not jump to expand in Charlottesville because of local competition that already exists in Bodo’s and Christian’s. Same for sandwich shops. Baggby’s does a fine job downtown, and so does Little John’s on the corner. A Subway franchise on Water street died fairly quickly, didn’t it? There might even be 27 Starbuck’s if it weren’t for Mudhouse, Greenberry’s, Cville Coffee, Java Java… I don’t think that it is a forgone conclusion that when out-of-towners show up that they will stomp all local business. Rather, they take away business from local stores that aren’t already serving the market adequately.
If there aren’t local services to fill in the market, then I’d welcome out-of-town merchants to come and pay rents, invest in local banks, pay local taxes, maintain property values downtown, and provide jobs- even if they are lower wage and without benefits.
The best thing would be to scope out every opportunity to promote local business start-ups that fill in the sentence; “over in Charlottesville, they have this great place called: _________”
Ah, yes, Restaurants. I believe I talked about that already.
My point is not really about restaurants, and I didn’t see your comment about them… My contribution is about demand and market forces.
Reality. It’s what work’s in the real world, not the world of theory, fantasy, or make-believe. Businesses survive on profit. The downtown mall will never be anything other than a place for expensive sandwiches and over priced meals. UO will probably last less than 6 months to a year because of the lack of customers.
I’m hearing a lot of you make these suggestions that the Downtown Mall ‘needs’ chain stores or an Urban Outfitters or whatever in order to draw people in and survive.
Bull. The Mall is already packed to capacity. During the warm months in particular it is a hive of activity. If it was any more crowded then it would become miserable to visit. The Mall is doing just fine without Urban Outfitters or their ilk.
As for empty storefronts, there are no good locations that are empty due to market forces. Every empty storefront is empty because either the building is undergoing renovations, the owner wants to tear it down but is locked in a staring contest with the city or the owner/agent has a reputation for being difficult/unpleasant to do business with. The only exception that comes to mind is that spot on 5th street by the Cat House where Mazi’s used to be. Bill Nichtman owns that building through Black Duck Land Trust and he’s a good landlord but has over the years given that space to a parade of sorta half-assed retail businesses that have given the location a bit of a taint.
No Jackson most here aren’t aren’t saying they want chains just that some chains won’t destroy the fabric of the mall. Competition is good as long as it is fair- Where is the outrage for the CVS store- it’s part of a really big chain last I read. Doesn’t it hurt the locally owned pharmacy. Didn’t industry (the youth oriented clothing store) come to the downtown and fail? The melting pot, five guys, Caspari, the french linen place are all part of chains. Aren’t Bank America and Wachcovia chains? Isn’t the Omni part of a chain and isn’t the mall better for it’s presences. (At least the city invested millions in it to keep it alive).
There has to be a balance to be sure but this talk of chains as evil is history viewed though rose colored glasses. Even the Paramount was once part of a chain that competed with the Jefferson. Once it fails should we tear down that? We never had a local only policy for our leaders, business owners and others who move here- why is it just stores?
“Bull. The Mall is already packed to capacity. During the warm months in particular it is a hive of activity” Only the outdoor cafes are packed to capacity during NOON to 2 PM and night time on weekends during the warm months. That’s a lot of down time for the restaurants especially since many of their customers are there for an hour and a half out of the two (It’s always about the restaurants, it seems). Other than that, it looks like a ghost town, not a hive of activity. While sitting at Rapture outdoor cafe, count the number of shopping bags you see. By contrast, go to Barracks Road, for example. Lots of activity AND lots of shopping bags.
Good locations: A&N, City Space, Order from Horder have excellent locations, nwar City Hall and Timberlakes. In fact there’s not a “bad” location on the Mall. Oh, and don’t forget all of the “For Lease” signs for upstairs space.
What some of us is talking about is the lack of variety in retail that supplies much of what we need more frequently than object d’art.
Maybe this has been said, but a lot of UVA students will flock to the downtown mall to buy clothing at UO.
Personally, I really would like to see a lot more vendors downtown everyday, providing a more bazaar atmosphere. Unfortunately, the City’s raising the vendors’ fees several years ago only served to get rid of a lot of them. Turin and Naples, Italy, for example, both have different kinds of street vendors and offerings, but each open air market draws multitudes annually into the commercial districts and into their stores. I hope the city would reconsider this move, although I’m aware there was strong vocal support from the renting businesses to drive them away from in front of their businesses.
Maybe someone will open a pseudo-emporium retail space in the Grand Piano building, bigger than that which was in the entrance of the Hardware Store restaurant when it first opened, providing great variety and a great incubator space.
I just came the downtown mall and there’s a boatload of “For Lease” signs. Order from Horder is gones and seems to be out of business. Blue Moon site for Lease. A small storefront at Bank of America, and the usual other suspects like the former Hardware Store which we’re talking about, and more. I only went 1/3rd down…
The situation looks pretty bad to me… Of course, Mr. Landers can give us the full scoop on why our perceptions are DEAD wrong?
Majunga, you beat me down there. I decided to go to the downtown branch of my bank around two, and noticed that there are some new businesses, particularly in the Market Street garage. In considering the variety I guess we should include the retail at H.M. Gleason’s on Garrett and I’ve forgotten that there’s supposed to be some commercial space at the old Ix building, so maybe things percentage wise is not as bad as I had thought as far as empty space is concerned. I still think that emporiums and vendors would spice up the area.
Thanks Cv’eye for the list of old stores, bought back memories! But it’s gone and that’s that.
(BTW, Joe’s save me several times by loaning me tools and charging my battery…)
Yes, Sara, learn from the past and then leave it there. I had forgotten just how friendly the clerks were. Thanks for that memory.
Just walking down 5th across the mall you have the store doors closed/closing…
1. Order From Horder, who could not get any sniffs for the business and sold their client list to and out of town entity.
2. Sage Moon
3. A & N with so many issues for upfit that it may never rent…
4. Hip Joint
That leaves….Antics and Ventana alive on that row.
Two out of seven. Hardly packed.
And Albemarle Square is half empty, the largest space at Barracks Road has been vacant for six months, and Rio Hill becomes more craptacular every month. This area has seen a boom of available real estate, followed by a national business bust. The inevitable result is that a bunch of space is coming online just as demand plummets. There’s nothing special about downtown in that regard.
Plus, having any businesses functioning on 5th St. SE is a totally new phenomenon. I used to work on 5th St. SE, and A&N and Order from Horder was all that was going on. A&N was kept alive by Gabe Silverman, but the whole (Richmond-based) chain finally went bust and, as you point out, the building isn’t in great shape. Having an art gallery occupy the Grand Piano space—one of the largest spaces on the entire Downtown Mall—was just nuts. It’s amazing that they survived as long as they did. And Order from Horder’s prices were crazy. I’ll go way out of my way to support local businesses, but I’m not stupid.
Anyhow, yeah, we’re in a recession. But downtown is doing better than anywhere else in town.
The Cat House.
Now there’s a place that I thought would be out of business in a week. That was, what, 1997? Them and the bead shop, Studio Baboo (which started on Fifth, but moved down Main later on), which has been around since ~2002, IIRC. So, hey, what the hell do I know? :)
The bead shop actually started in the front of the hardware restaurant around 1998, then fifth, then Miller & Rhoades. At the time, there was a neat used book store in the basement that was quite popular. Had to look that up: IIRC. I think there’s a dog shop now in the Mall side of the Market St parking garage. What great shops to buy presents for dog and cat lovers, especially when you don’t know what to give them. Of course, so many people are into buying their pets “gifts” too, so I suspect they’re both be in business until they get tired. I am surprised though that the Cat House hasn’t moved to larger digs and The Party Starts Here did.
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