What Makes a Good Store?
A local psychic made the new on channel 7 last night in a fraud investigation. The interview turns sour and both verbally aggressive and profane. [LINK to video] [LINK to blog & comments on report].
Throughout today I've seen at least a dozen comments on a neighborhood Yahoo group about the need to close this store down and remove it from our shopping neighborhood. The issue really isn't about the business owners, the store, or even the report on channel 7, I think it simply touches the nerve, the root of the problem, the desire of residents for different stores, more diversity and particular desires such as a brew pub, breakfast joint or family-friendly restaurants. It's about the tension of community, the one we live in and which is emerging around us and the one we dream of and work to live into.
So I find myself thinking and wondering today as I walked through the Dimond District taking pictures of neighborhood businesses both old and new, both well-loved and tolerated, what makes for a good neighborhood store? How do you balance that with fears of gentrification and needs of development? How do you balance that in terms of age, cultural background, class and family/single issues? What do we do to encourage new desired businesses in Oakland when it seems to be so hard to open one [See today's trib article "Oakland Zoning Rules a Minefield for Businesses"] In the end I wonder for my own thinking what I deem a good business is it simply because of my individual tastes: this is ghetto, this is trashy, this is bobo, this is chic, this is locally empowering; or do I think about businesses in the district a systemic or community way: this is good for the community because it addresses this or that sub-population, or in the sense that this or that business is sustainable and will contribute to the ongoing transformation of the business distrcit for the good of all?
In the end I think I probably most think about it in an individualistic way even if I am intentional about how I spend my money to invest in and encourage locally-owned sustainable businesses that meet my - the the needs of my family. Can we get beyond our individual own tastes and preferences? And should we try to?
What do you think? What makes a good neighborhood store?