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A Tale of Two Coffee Shops

I've got a new post over at Greater Greater Washington about two coffee shops in my neighborhood. A block apart from each other, one opened just a few months before the other closed. In a twisted way, the situation shows that 14th Street is both a desirable place where businesses want to be, and a place where it's nonetheless difficult to run a business.

(from NCinDC on Flickr)

When I lived in Cleveland, it was painful to watch businesses fail. Usually, it happened because there weren't enough customers, and the businesses couldn't generate sufficient sales. It happened because businesses just couldn't get people in the door and at the end of the day that was hardly any money in the till.

In DC, it's like the polar opposite. On 14th Street, businesses are closing because they can't afford the rent. They need affordable retail space in order to survive, and they simply can't get it in a neighborhood that's becoming popular.

Both situations demonstrate problems; but in DC, when a business closes, it's usually replaced by a different, more upscale, more expensive business. In Cleveland, when a business fails, it often becomes a vacant storefront. So while yes, it's frustrating to see 14th Street losing its unique character as its long-time businesses close for another upscale restaurant I can't afford, I like to think that I haven't lost touch with the reality that the situation could be so much worse.

Comments

ZZinDC said…
The Bang & Olufson store on 14th really irritates me. I have nothing against that firm directly, but it seems to me their presence represents the wrong direction 14th Street is heading. (They should be in Cady Alley or Connecticut Avenue.) I know that 14th is past the days of Mom & Pop stores, or even nice store selling used items,(if it was ever really there) but does that have to mean that only sellers of extreme luxury goods can afford the rent? But maybe 14th is headed towards becoming a high-end enclave, and maybe I should appreciate the taxes that will flow into the city treasury. I don't have any prescription; I don't care for excessive government intrusion (because I am not so sure it works at this level) but is it wrong to want a neighborhood that is improved 'enough' but not 'too much'? The challenge then being - how are those two phrases defined? (Sorry for the ramble.) (PS - Great blog.)

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