Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sign of the Times

Sometimes you don't realize how much you take something for granted until it's about to leave you. Case in point? Our local dollar store. Unlike the wave of similar models opening shop around the neighborhood, this one was independently owned -- by a nice Middle Eastern guy who always offered a warm greeting and never tried to

We counted on them for staples like bungee cords, tissue paper, and shower-curtain liners. Every once in a while we'd come across a great pair of cheap sunglasses or set of Asian dishware. Now they're packing it in, liquidating the whole inventory for 30% off (they do the math in their heads at the register, and sometimes it's closer to 20%, but who can really quibble over a dime?)

I went in yesterday to stock up on a few things and express my sympathy to the owner.

"Yes, what can you do?" he said. "The neighborhood is changing. It's very hard."

He's right. The neighborhood is changing. Yesterday a hipster in a white jean jacket walked past me from west of where we live (I was comforted when he wasn't past checking out some furniture someone left in the alley for the trash man). A renovated sports bar has opened two doors down from the store. And probably most consequential, the national Family Dollar chain has a targeted expansion plan for neighborhoods like ours.

Still, business isn't coming in droves to this frenetic stretch of Fullerton. My best guess is the storefront will stay empty for a long time, probably replaced by a cell-phone shop. We have a situation that's too late for a dollar store and too early for a boutiquey cafe. It makes you wonder what this means for economic development, and what kind of forecasting (or audacious gambling) a business will have to do before it can take up residence there and be successful. If they're legit and independently owned, it's a fair guess we'll be supporting them.

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