did someone muck with the backend here

Re: Guest Post - Chain Stores

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Given the understandable forces at play, I wonder how some towns do manage to confront this stuff.

Business districts that are divided into small parcels with different owners and building that are too small/poorly maintained/hard to park at for any corporate client to want to rent there.

Or so I've heard.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 11:46 AM
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Right. The countetvailing force is that large chains are extremely conservative about their locations. If you've got small/fragmented/weirdo space the big chains aren't interested. But this explains why you don't see a lot if independent coffee shops in suburban malls.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 11:57 AM
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I think if we come to some kind of national consensus in the next 50 years on how to more stably and fairly divide up the pie, it might make sense for the package to include super-mega-subsidies to mom-and-pop-level small businesses to effectively guarantee their survival over time. Not because it's economically efficient, but because people like having the world look that way. I think it's a bit like this in Japan.

I realize we have tons of tax breaks for small businesses already, but they're opaque, and I think most tax expenditures aren't that targeted and end up with bigger firms.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 12:09 PM
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(I Can't Stop Thinking)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 12:10 PM
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SF regulates chain retail in certain neighborhoods, requiring use permits with specific findings, and prohibited in others. Info here: http://sf-planning.org/chain-stores-formula-retail-use

Zoning regulation is always going to win out over direct subsidies as it requires no direct outlay.

Other cities in CA and elsewhere also regulate chain retail. Details of each scheme will vary, obvs, I'm sure there are reports from planning institutes, grad students, etc, out there.

Of course the idea only works if a neighborhood is a desirable retail location already. In the upper Filmore the results seem to be that high end chains open one of their first outlets here (e.g., brooks bros defunct black fleece, athleta ground zero, etc) and then play the grandfathered card, otherwise it's an endless procession of sky-high rent shops selling medium edgy expensive clothes. It may help family-owned tchotke shops in Chinatown and hipster startup food outlets in the Hayes Valley, though.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 12:50 PM
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How can a tax be designed that lands on chain stores but not Mom-and-Pop stores? Like a "you are sucking the soul out of the neighborhood" tax.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 1:22 PM
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Make the corporate tax progressive in or at least proportional to the size of the corporation, measured in revenue or employees or number of outlets?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 1:27 PM
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Subsidies for "local" businesses* cost the municipality in lost tax revenue or cost of direct subsidy. They also cost the employees a bit since the smaller employers generally pay less than the chains, and if they're small enough they are exempt from lots of labor regulations such as overtime pay the chains have to comply with. And they cost the residents fo the community who have to pay higher prices and accept smaller selection than if they shopped at a chain store. Thie effect is strongest among the lowest income inner city residents who don't have cars to shop elsewhere.

On the other side, subsidies for local owners of small businesses are very good for the owners of small businesses, who are wonderful people, kind to their children and their dogs and sponsors of the local little league teams. They are also the main financial supporters of the county Republican Party. Did I say "other side"?

Sure, you can subsidize to some extent, although the chias may sue you. But why would you?

*The definition of a local business eligible for subsidy is a complicate question. If the local McDonalds is owned by a local franchisee, is it local? If not, what about the the Chinese restaurant downtown that is locally owned, but has borrowed operating capital from an out-of-town venture fund specializing in Chinese restaurant financing, and is subject to loan covenants that effectively give the fund managers control over the wages of employees, menu, pricing, etc. almost as much as McDonalds does? This is not hypothetical.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 1:30 PM
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And they cost the residents fo the community who have to pay higher prices and accept smaller selection than if they shopped at a chain store.

This is not necessarily the case, because often the local businesses aren't replaced by chain stores offering the same goods and services. My neighborhood has, e.g., a plague of bank branches, and no useful hardware store.

I'm not sure enough of what to do in order to advocate a particular solution, but being upset about the replacement of local retail with corporate storefronts isn't pure hipsterism. There's often real value to the community in the local business.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 1:35 PM
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I don't understand how so many store fronts are turning into bank branches and cell phone stores.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 1:39 PM
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Yeah, exactly. The OP explains why landlords prefer them, but I can't figure out why it makes sense for either the banks or the cell phone companies to rent so much space.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 1:41 PM
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Especially given the prevalence of on-line banking and buying your cell phone from Amazon.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 1:42 PM
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being upset about the replacement of local retail with corporate storefronts isn't pure hipsterism.

This one chain sells ten thousand spoons, when all I need is a knife. SO ANNOYING!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 1:42 PM
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This is actually really illuminating. I live in a fancy, boring neighborhood that has always been and will always be fancy and boring, so the onslaught of banks and cell phone stores and Walgreens was never explicable as gentrification, and yet it happened and happens still. I cannot imagine low credit risk and higher property valuations explain the parallel trend of vape stores and urgent care clinics, but who knows. It's like being in a cartoon with a wraparound background though, bank, clinic, bank, vape store, bank, walgreens.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 1:56 PM
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Seriously, so many vape stores. I cannot understand this, unless they're all drug rings? Since when do drug rings need a store front?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 1:58 PM
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As I posted elsewhere, it isn't entirely about the banks. Landlords are just as irrational as any other economic actor, and will let a storefront sit empty if they think it can eventually get filled by a national. Prestige, perceived stability, etc.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 1:58 PM
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I also wondered about the vape stores, but then I saw that some of them were basically head shops.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:00 PM
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17 before seeing 15.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:01 PM
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buying your cell phone from Amazon.

If I'm not mistaken, low end storefronts serve the part of the market that A. doesn't have Amazon access, B. pays using phone cards and such, C. is buying phones so crappy they need constant replacement. The higher end (Verizon etc) is serving old people who need constant help with their phones, and as a way to upsell people on phones and accessories.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:03 PM
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As 9 says, 8 makes a mistake that's common in counterintuitive discussions of gentrification, which is acting as if retail mix is somehow detached from resident population. The clothes store that sold cheap school uniforms is replaced by the Uniqlo, it kind of doesn't matter (to residents) what the precise political economy is: they no longer have that clothing source. The larger message about who belongs is unmistakeable as well.

Speaking more broadly, retail development is strongly driven by leases, and chains can (and do) sign longer term and more reliable leases that are make-or-break for the developers. So, again, even if you take the bank preferences out, the dynamic goes in this direction.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:08 PM
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Crappy banking services (.01% interest savings accounts, 1% fee mutual funds, etc.) are even more profitable than you would expect.


Posted by: Yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:13 PM
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My local-est Iranian grocery/restaurant is becoming a vape/shisha place as the son takes over responsibility from his parents. I hope he keeps selling taftoon as dad shows up less and less often.
Other low-rent local retail action: Yugoslav packaged goods grocer, Russian bodega, Salvadoran bodega that charges $2.69/avocado and where the junior grocer tries to shortchange my kid but not me. There's an eatery/bar with a pool table, I'd eat there but the older dudes who run it, goldtooth and ponytail, I do not think that their idea of a clean enough Honduran kitchen is the same as mine from when the door opens.

Basically, I think that mom-and-pop places are ineffecient, and enough people have to be willing or stuck by lack of transport to pay extra for localness for them to work.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:14 PM
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My view is that a surprising amount of character-filled local retail shops are vanity projects whose ultimate funding source comes from elsewhere. The little dress boutique set up by the real-estate developer husband, the cupcake shop financed by Dad, etc. etc. This is certainly the case for one of my most local high-ish end retail streets, where I know a few of the proprietors and the ones who aren't chains are largely just hoping to break even for the sake of keeping the store going and rely on outside money.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:19 PM
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There's sort of a price-point where that semi-real storefront concept becomes untenable, though.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:20 PM
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I'll say it's personally heartening to hear that the bank branch/vape store swell is a nationwide phenomenon because I've been really cranky about having to stay in NYC lately but it would be the same wherever I moved!


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:21 PM
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I recently took a trip to southern/central Oregon east of the Cascades and apparently Bank of America, after expanding all over the place, pulled a bunch of branches out of there, leaving behind empty buildings.* Corporate stability doesn't necessarily mean your local branches won't up and leave.

I do think there might be a better long term future incorporating chains into landscapes other than big parking lots surrounding boxes, rather than trying to hash out local vs. not local and hoping that will map onto car dependent vs walkable, but that seems to be unthinkable for people who make planning decisions.

*I think they mostly moved into existing ones.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:25 PM
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Salvadoran bodega that charges $2.69/avocado

Is this cheap or expensive? (That's expensive here.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:30 PM
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23 is so not true everywhere. Really. That's your LAitis photonegative worldview.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:31 PM
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For starters, there is not a single retail store in town which would qualify as high-end. It seems plausible if you restrict it to high-end little boutiques.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:32 PM
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Let me just have a run of self-congratulatory comments. Have I mentioned my beautiful reverse-snobbery? La gente love me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:33 PM
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I also wondered about the vape stores, but then I saw that some of them were basically head shops.

You know, I was hoping that would be the case, but last summer I spent far too much time trying to find a head shop so I could buy a glass pipe. One would think that a town as crunchy as Keene would have a head shop on Main Street, but it does not. Eventually, I decided to try the vape store, but they really didn't seem to have anything supporting any kind of combustion-related program activities. Just the vape shit. Electronic doodads and funky-colored liquids with flavorings like "spruce."

A dude sitting at the vape bar did tell me the name of a store where I could get what I needed, but I couldn't find that place.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:36 PM
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$2.69 an avocado seems crazy expensive to me. They're $1.69 right now are the independent grocery store I shop at, and I thought that was expensive.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:39 PM
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In my commie collectivist past our wildly profitable retail & food production business with 2+ decades of solid success could not get financing from any bank. Absurd. Luckily CA has a coop corp structure option that allows for self-capitalization with pretty favorable tax treatment.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:44 PM
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We've still got indigenous muskrats up here.

When my kids were small and we went to the Lincoln Park Zoo there was a huge Liger, with a mane and black on grey stripes. The roaring of big cats, amplified by the structure of their building is prodigious, and gives you something you don't get watching Nature.
And lemurs are mesmerizing to watch.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:45 PM
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Lemurs may be mesmerizing, but are they credit worthy???


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:50 PM
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Animals prefer corporate zoos for stability.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:51 PM
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I'm disappointed unfogged ranks so low in a Google search for [femurs lemurs demurs].


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 2:59 PM
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Since I'm sure you're all dying to know, avocados are typically advertised 2/$5 at my local (chain) grocery store.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 3:36 PM
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We pay a lot for food, wouldn't be surprised if we pay around $2 or so for avocados, but we're paying for the labor practices. Arguments in favor of cheap food on the backs of exploited workers don't persuade me.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 3:42 PM
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Megan has been truly awesome on this lately over at her marvelous place.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 4:24 PM
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I recently took a trip to southern/central Oregon


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 4:56 PM
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Malheuresement, I didn't go that far east.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 5:17 PM
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As Jane Jacobs said - cities need old buildings?


Posted by: chris s | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 6:12 PM
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And then there are cities that are actively against local businesses, such as Irvine, where (my unhappy grad student friends report) there isn't a single non-chain restaurant.


Posted by: Ponder Stibbons | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 6:54 PM
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the answer is actually relative easy: loan guarantee style guarantees for rent. The city would guarantee the rent payment for a set period of time under an arts/community use lease agreement and then the city would bear the risk of non-payment by the actual tenants.

This would operate in a similar manner to say, student loans. But this would just be for leases


Posted by: Myles | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 8:07 PM
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Ok, but now you've got the city paying Mom and Pop's rent. I'm not sure that's the best use of funds.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 8:28 PM
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I think the cell phone thing has peaked, and bank branches may be peaking. For a while, it seemed every store front was going to be a cell phone shop or a bank, except in NYC where it might be a Duane Reade. You can get cheap cell phones at the drug store, bodega or supermarket and banks have been getting merged out of business. Retail, even big corporate retail, is not in very good shape these days, but people have to eat.


Posted by: Kaleberg | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 9:17 PM
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@46: Not really. The City could charge a small premium as a cost of insurance and over time that premium should add up to enough to handle any delinquencies. That would *still* be cheaper for the mom-and-pop than *not* having access to the premises.


Posted by: Myles | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 10:51 PM
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The point isn't really to lower cost, it's to take the risk from someone who can't really properly bear that risk (the owners of the commercial premises who in many cases aren't large companies at all, especially for mom-and-pop sized premises) to people who could (basically, the City as an institution).


Posted by: Myles | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 10:53 PM
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Are there examples of cities successfully using that kind of rent guarantee? I'm familiar with successful loan guarantee programs in other contexts, but I haven't heard of this particular approach before.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-26-16 10:56 PM
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I don't know if Chris Y would agree with me, but the answer seems to be "don't be somewhere desirable for chain stores". Post industrial collapse and World Student Games, the Sheffield where I grew up was pretty depressed, with low rents and a relatively small market of people with disposable income. The result was an ecosystem of small, interesting local businesses (eg Sumo, the skate shop where I misspent much of my youth). Then the universities got popular, the undercurrent of constant violence mostly evaporated, rents skyrocketed and Division Street and environs became a bland strip of chain coffee shops and the occasional high end boutique.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 2:06 AM
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I've often thought this explains why a lot of killer locations have god-awful businesses - after a certain point the only way to show you can make the rent is to take the most obvious tourist-trap option, and in any case the rent is too damn high to leave much FCF in the business for investment.

As for the phone outlets, you'd be surprised how much a good retail offer does for a carrier. BT got rid of all its retail when they demerged the mobile network in 2002 and they've been kicking themselves since. The wake-up call was the huge success of the Apple store, which was all about stripping out fixtures and fittings and hiring a lot more staff.

Also, does Uniqlo have a different business model in the USA or something? In the UK (and I think Japan) it's super cheap.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 2:12 AM
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Ecclesall Road / Sharrowvale is another good example


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 2:13 AM
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I really must look into how the bit of London where I live managed to stay basically chain-free in terms of real estate economics.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 2:13 AM
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I've often thought this explains why a lot of killer locations have god-awful businesses - after a certain point the only way to show you can make the rent is to take the most obvious tourist-trap option, and in any case the rent is too damn high to leave much FCF in the business for investment.

Witness what happened to Charing Cross Road over the last decade.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 2:27 AM
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I've often thought this explains why a lot of killer locations have god-awful businesses

Look at Piccadilly Circus/Leicester Square. The M&M Store. Aberdeen Steak House. Ripley's Believe It or Not. Lillywhites, which used to be good until it was bought out and gutted by Sports Direct.

Packed with tourists wandering around going "is this London? This is shit."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 2:35 AM
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What we should do is tax flags. Everything with a Union Jack on it gets a special 50% sales tax. We could call it the Tat VAT.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 2:36 AM
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It's a real issue in Cambridge, which regularly comes top of the UK's Clone Town Survey as having the highest proportion of chain stores in its city centre. Independent retailers aren't even being allowed to apply for premises in the new development around the station. The standout exception is Mill Road, which has a strong local traders' association and a committed, highly educated local community whose members will come out to protest against planned chain store openings>/a>. The big supermarkets are slowly making inroads, though, and gentrification means that new independents tend to be hipster cafes and expensive delicatessens replacing the previous more downmarket grocery stores.


Posted by: Ume | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 2:52 AM
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Having just left advising CRE clients, the Bloomberg post is spot on. As are the comments about Central London, where the post-GFC, pre-Brexit flight to perceived safe assets means that the gross yields on prime central London retail is tiny - we're talking 2.5% type level - at that return, there's a general polite disbelief that anyone buys the stuff for pure economic reasons.

That said, the people I know with the lowest return targets just bought a central London shopping block (albeit at a steep discount for a quick purchase), so what do I know?


Posted by: Richard J | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 2:52 AM
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Damn, here's the link. http://www.tcs.cam.ac.uk/news/0033735-residents-complain-as-new-sainsbury-s-set-to-open-on-mill-road.html


Posted by: Ume | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 2:53 AM
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Seeds is absolutely right in general, but there appears to be a further stage which I would characterise as the "artisan bakery/cheese shop" phenomenon - mom and pop stores catering entirely to the prosperous middle classes, which arises when the neighbourhood cannot actually be levelled for the benefit of the chain stores, but the existing building stock is inappropriate for them. This seems to have happened- for the benefit of Seeds- in Sharrowvale Rd and Abbeydale Rd. The people who run these cafes and shops are too old to be still effectively living off their parents, and they appear to be minting money at the moment. I think the intermediate phase may involve antique shops.

The question of independent Asian supermarkets is a separate issue, but important.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 3:02 AM
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36. A 23 year old American friend arrived in London for a few days earlier this year, and top of her to do list was to shop at Primark (not sure of the apt comparison here). So maybe the chains know what they're doing in the West End. Alas.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 3:06 AM
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61: The deli thing is a good point, and I'd add "shops selling a selection of reasonably priced crafts and jewellery" to the same category, along with "tiny pubs opening in former retail spaces". However, I think you may be right about this being an intermediate stage before the bigger fish move in - as always, artists and hipsters are the vanguard of, well, everyone else.

I've just realised that I'm probably missing out the other part of the story: having one of the first really big shopping centres in the UK open up nearby, which hoovered up all of the chain stores for a long time. (And Meadowhall still has the only chain store that I actually want in the centre, speaking as the frequently infuriated owner of a phone and laptop made by Apple.)


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 3:42 AM
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63. Mrs y once had a conversation with the apology for a human being who is now Chief Exec. of Sheffield and was even then over-promoted, in which he said that when the planning decision to build Meadowhell was made they didn't realise the effect it would have on the city centre. He actually said that.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 3:55 AM
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"shops selling a selection of reasonably priced crafts and jewellery"

I'm not opposed to crafts, but do they have to put them right out there on display where everybody walking by has to see them?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 5:14 AM
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The City could charge a small premium as a cost of insurance and over time that premium should add up to enough to handle any delinquencies.

This could work, but they would have to figure out how to offload the insurance risk. If a recession hits, and a large proportion of mom and pop stores go out of business at the same time, it would be a huge hit to the cities budget at a time of belt-tightening.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 5:19 AM
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62: I know Parisians who do this; apparently "reasonable prices and actually fashionable" is not a thing the French retail economy does well. Which makes a lot of sense.

As for 61, sure you're not complaining that those people over there seem to be having fun?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 5:25 AM
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Fortunately men's clothing fashions haven't changed since the 90s so I don't need to buy anything except to replace clothes that wear out or get inoperable gravy stains.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 5:37 AM
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67.2. Not at all. I'm merely analysing how that sort of enterprise, which I patronise enthusiastically, manages to thrive interstitially despite the worst efforts of the big chains. For better or worse, it's an upside of gentrification. The downside of course is that you can no longer get a decent curry locally.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 6:08 AM
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64: That's legitimately frightening. It's anecdotes like that that make you realise that perhaps we're lucky to have Costa, Nando's, etc, rather than a smoking crater where bands of feral youth fight over potable water


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 6:22 AM
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And it's not just Sheffield. Thrill as Bradford city fathers complain that so many shops have folded since they BOMBED IT FROM SPACE WITH A GIANT MALL NOBODY ASKED FOR: http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/14764958.Compulsory_purchase_of_empty_shops_suggested_to_breathe_life_into_city_centre/


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 6:42 AM
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70. Never mind, isn't the smoking crater is the plan for the Castle Market site? I think they want to amputate the East End because thinking about it gives them migraines.

71. The proportions of blind stupidity and downright corruption may vary from city to city, but the inability to learn anything seems to be a constant. I'm put in mind of a local election day coverage some years ago when one side, Labour, I think, was losing councils as if they were going out of fashion, and some pundit said, "There are a lot of excellent politicians losing here" and another one countered, "No they're not. If they were excellent they'd be MPs." Which is very unfair in a few cases, but a good generalisation.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 6:54 AM
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top of her to do list was to shop at Primark

I was going to say this was a bit far to travel for Primark, but I didn't realize how few stores they have in the US (Boston's seems to be the only one actually in a city; there are four more in malls in the Northeast).


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 7:14 AM
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I never heard of Primark.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 7:26 AM
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73. Maybe nothing in LA or the bay area? There's a YUUUGE one on Oxford Street in London, which I would pay you good money not to visit, but it was clearly an important destination.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 7:36 AM
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It's spelt Primarch.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 7:40 AM
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73. Looking at their website, they don't appear to have broken out of the east coast in the US. They're all over Europe- apparently originally Irish, which I hadn't realised. Usually these things are German, Dutch or Scandi.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 7:49 AM
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Is it like H & M, which I've heard of but never been to?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 7:51 AM
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Ikea for butts.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 7:52 AM
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H&M, Zara, Topshop/Topman and Uniqlo all do "fast fashion" of one sort or another that's of acceptable quality at a fairly sensible price. (They're respectively Swedish, Spanish, British and Japanese.)

Primark is for those times when instead of one hooded sweatshirt from the above, you want three, but the zip falls off one and another has sleeves of clearly different lengths.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 7:58 AM
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that's of acceptable quality at a fairly sensible price.

Towards the shitty end of "acceptable quality," IME.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:00 AM
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I don't really buy a lot of hooded sweatshirts.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:04 AM
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80: I'd rank Uniqlo above all those others for both quality and design. Particularly Top Shop - I was given a £70 gift card for them once that I never used because I literally couldn't find anything there I would have been willing to wear. But a large chunk of my wardrobe, especially T-shirts, comes from Uniqlo.


Posted by: Ume | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:06 AM
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H&M, the clothes run flimsy and fashiony enough to be peculiar. Uniqlo I successfully find clothes dull enough to wear in. Don't know Zara or Topshop.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:09 AM
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85

Wasn't it Topshop that was the subject of a boycott for throwing disabled customers out because they lowered the tone?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:13 AM
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86

I'm mostly buying stuff from L.L. Bean because Land's End was pissing me off and the recession isn't over enough for Brooks Brothers again.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:15 AM
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87

Lands End has some good work dresses this year, but probably not your thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:17 AM
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88

I sort of want this hat, but I'd like to support small businesses when I purchase a hat I can't imagine wearing it in public.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:21 AM
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89

The votes are in. Uniqlo > H&M > Zara > Topshop >> Primark


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:24 AM
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90

56: This very thing has always mystified me about Piccadilly Circus. How are all these shit stores any kind of tourist draw? Who the hell comes to London from somewhere else to go to an M&M store? (side note: why does anyone go to an M&M store at all?) How does it remain constantly full of tourists when there is nothing there anyone sane wants to go to or can't get anywhere else in the country/Europe/world? They can't be coming for the 3-story Boots?


Posted by: Swope FM | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:31 AM
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91

72.1: Owen Hatherley for Chief Executive!

70 / 72.2: Ugh. These comments remind me why I had to stop reading the Piloti column in Private Eye. It was making me depressed in the way that even Rotten Boroughs etc didn't. A lot of their journalism relates to large sums of public money being misspent, which tends to make me feel either angry, or resigned to how awful people are. But for some reason, when you add the pointless destruction of urban heritage to the standard incompetence and venality, I just feel sadness.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:35 AM
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92

The old woman who lived in a shoe really wasn't as bad off as the stories let on.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:36 AM
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93

That was me


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:36 AM
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94

I'm the old woman who lived in a shoe, to clarify


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:37 AM
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95

90. Who knows? 50 years ago Piccadilly Circus was a big centre for making gay hook-ups. Then they made it legal. Maybe the tourists haven't noticed yet. There are plenty of tourist drraws in London that are actually interesting/fun, so why hang out in the ruins of a once great neighbourhood which died?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:39 AM
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96

I noticed nobody tried to pick me up, but thought it was just because I got really old.


Posted by: Opinionated Tourist | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:40 AM
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97

At least you got some M&Ms out of it


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:42 AM
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98

91. If I was somehow Prime Minister, I'd appoint Owen Hatherley as Sec. of State for CLG in a heartbeat, even if the poor bastard had to pretend to be a lord to do it.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:44 AM
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99

90: How are all these shit stores any kind of tourist draw? Who the hell comes to London from somewhere else to go to an M&M store?

Maybe the answer is: they're not, but tourists come to London to see shows in the West End, and those stores are basically just feeding on the scraps.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:47 AM
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100

For men's fashion Topman>>Uniqlo IMO. Much wider range of styles/colors and caters to a more dapper look.


Posted by: Ponder Stibbons | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:48 AM
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101

99 is sadly plausible.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:54 AM
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102

Americans go to Piccadilly Circus because they hear the name and think, OMG thats the goofiest, most English name for a place ever, we've got to find out what the deal is with that.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 8:57 AM
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102. Then why aren't they all over Bevis Marks, St Mary Axe and Petticoat Lane (all within easy walking distance of each other)?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 9:10 AM
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104

102: Right. Facebook pictures with captions like "But there were no elephants or clowns."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 9:13 AM
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105

Just a huge statue of the Greek god of sex. Some people are never happy.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 9:15 AM
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106

H&M and Uniqlo both occasionally do collaborations with big name designers, which I believe sell out super fast.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 9:19 AM
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107

105: According to Wikipedia, it just looks like a huge statue of the Greek god of sex. It's actually his brother.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 9:32 AM
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108

102: Think of the disappointment once they've ridden the tube all the way up to Cockfosters.


Posted by: Swope FM | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 9:32 AM
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109

108 to 107


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 9:59 AM
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110

This isn't the what to do with SP's 10 year old in London for a weekend but one thing would be to drag him to the great Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition at the Tate Modern. I went for an overnight from Amsterdam last week to see that and Dreyer's Passion of Joan of Arc at the Globe Theatre with a new score by Portishead's Adrian Utley performed live.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 10:06 AM
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111

+thread


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 10:07 AM
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112

Ten is pretty young for an exhibit of vagina drawings, even if they're really good drawings.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 10:12 AM
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113

Eh. Any art museum with statues has dick all over the place, and no one minds.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 10:14 AM
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114

They don't tend to be statues of dicks, though.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 10:19 AM
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115

There definitely tend to be portraits of dicks though.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 10:32 AM
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116

My seven-year-old son was with me in the d'Orsay when we unexpectedly came upon the most famous vagina painting of them all. He didn't seem very interested and certainly doesn't seem to have been traumatized. He was more interested in "Wheat Field with Crows" in the same space.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 10:37 AM
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117

404 -> 88, or perhaps vice versa.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 10:44 AM
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118

Export controls on wool felt hats?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 11:02 AM
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119

Meh, Uniqlo is secretly made but basically The Gap; Topram is h&m level quality.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 3:48 PM
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120

Wait, Primark is an Irish company? I thought it was French. I probably confused it with Monoprix, favorite department store of Mireille on French in Action.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 9:23 PM
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92-94 are pretty funny.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 9:31 PM
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122

120: Fist bump for Mireille


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 09-27-16 10:14 PM
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123

The Magnificent Mile is like this too. Visit Chicago! Shop at Crate and Barrel!

It's always jam packed with tourists, and I would figure they must be from parts of Illinois or Wisconsin where they don't have a Gap, except that is basically nowhere. I suppose they could be in for the really high end fashion not available in Schaumberg or Milwaukee, except I assume that someone in the market for Prada or Burberry isn't wearing high-waisted jeans with white walking shoes.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 09-28-16 3:07 PM
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124

I, too, am shocked that people shop at large, successful chains located in desirable areas.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-28-16 9:26 PM
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125

I am slightly boggling at the equation of "Burberry" with "really high-end fashion".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-29-16 2:04 AM
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126

Have you spent much time in the Midwest?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-16 3:39 AM
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127

Well, no.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-29-16 4:11 AM
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128

February is the best time to avoid the crowds.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-16 5:00 AM
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129

News you can use.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-16 5:20 AM
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130

You know the local rag sucks when they don't use "Ball sues over botched castration" as the headline.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-16 5:21 AM
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after reading the article you affection makes me feel very flattered by this, it gives a lot of little knowledge, in which the news is presented is very nice and easy to read directly in the subject heading


Posted by: mgmdomino | Link to this comment | 09-30-16 8:39 AM
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