this fucking economy. over the last 3 years, i have watched the streets of this town morph into something that i don’t recognize anymore. exchange street alone is a complete stranger with its consignment and discount shops mixed amongst the last few surviving high end stores. not that i don’t appreciate the bargains, but it feels like i notice a new STORE CLOSING! or GOING OUT OF BUSINESS! or maybe EVERYTHING MUST GO! sign pretty much every day. after having your business alive in this city for so long, i can’t even imagine what it must feel like to have to paste that sign up in your window. i assume that there’s a lot of shame and regret. a lot of wishing that they could go back and have that “it’s a wonderful life” chance to do it the right way this time… or maybe it’s just a relief to be done with it? struggling small businesses can be like large monsters in the way that they eat up time, resources, energy, and hope. whatever the case, shuttering those windows and signing over your lease to some dude who thinks he has a better idea has to be an emotionally pummeling experience. i know it breaks my heart every time, and i just shop there. well, i used to shop there.
this past week, 2 of my favorites made the casualty list.
the north star music cafe had such a benevolent purpose! delicious local (mostly veg & vegan) foodables! flexible performance and music space for all! a few months ago, the owner ran a small fundraising campaign to help pay off some mounting business related debts, and i think we were all really hoping that was the end of it. not so. thursday afternoon, the news broke on twitter that they were shutting down for good on sunday. goodbye adorable hippie girls serving me bagels. goodbye sweet vegan reuben. goodbye people in this town trying to do something with purpose, integrity, and love. maybe i’m being overdramatic, but i’m super bummed out.
second on the list (do we need to start making a dead pool for portland businesses?), is cunningham books in longfellow square. always carefully organized and stuffed full of beautiful and pristine picture books, this was a regular stop on my local hunt for nancy drews and 80s art and fashion books. i spied the 30% OFF STORE CLOSING sign on sunday afternoon, and the excitement over possible vintage book bargains was totally clouded with the confusion and disappointment i felt to find out that they were closing. too pricey? too far from downtown? not enough revenue to be had selling old books? i don’t know. it’s possible that they don’t even know. sometimes you can do everything right and still fail. small business is vicious, and i wholeheartedly admire anyone who has the iron cojones to actually give it a try.
anyway, sorry this post is such a bummer. consider it your “buy local” lecture of the day. if we don’t support the businesses that we love, they will disappear. it’s fucking crazy hard out there right now, so open those wallets and go get yourself some local whatever (might i suggest some gently used he-man figures, or possibly a chocolate covered twinkie?).
have you recently lost a favored local establishment to this crap economy? tell me about it. and let me be the first to offer my profound condolences.