Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ask Not For Whom the Bell Tolls...

...since, as faithful readers of this column already know, it tolls for Greenwich Avenue. Now your scribe understands why the bells at St. Mary's toll so lugubriously at noon every day. They're ringing the death-knell for the Avenue.

The latest empty storefront is that of Georg Jensen. Well, it's not quite empty yet, but give it a couple of weeks or so. Rumor has it that prices are being discounted by about three-fourths, if you don't mind buying an item that cannot be returned or serviced locally. The wise shopper will remember Thomas Jefferson's adage: "Never buy what you don't want just because it is cheap."

Your scribe recalls with fondness the old days when that storefront was The Video Station, where you could rent a movie and buy nibbles from one of the then-numerous family-owned businesses on the Avenue. Then the gentrification of Greenwich Avenue began, chasing away such favorites as Al Franklin's, the Greenwich Drug Store, the Yellowbrick Road, C'est Si Bon, the Cheese Shop, Finch's, and so on and so forth.

And now, dear reader, welcome to the de-gentrification of Greenwich Avenue. Scattered amongst the proliferating empty storefronts you can now find a Psychic with a handsome brass plaque out front telling you everything you may care to know about "Psychic's" [sic]. This particular seer may be able to read the future, but is apparently unable to read the dictionary.

Not far away is the lovely massage parlor, whose blinking neon lights advertise its cut-rate services - only $55 for 60 minutes, can you imagine! That's gotta be cheaper than the tony day spas that have been invading the Avenue in recent years. Once you tear the heart out of a community in the name of greed, you have started down a slippery slope to which there is no end, it seems.

And so, dear reader, the bells at St. Mary's will continue to toll, and Greenwich Avenue will continue its decline into not-so-genteel shabbiness. What a pity! We used to have such a nice downtown here. And then the chain stores started to invade, like kudzu, and pretty soon all the charm and character of the Avenue disappeared. We were left with an open-air mall.

And now the mall is closing, and we are left with...what? A few family-owned businesses that have managed to hold on, an ever-increasing bunch of empty storefronts, and a plethora of empty parking spaces. What a blessing that we didn't build the mammouth parking garages that the Chamber of Commerce was so fervently championing a few years ago. Can you spell "white elephant", dear reader?

No doubt more chain stores will be closing before the end of the summer. Your scribe will continue to perambulate the Avenue and report back. Stay tuned....

UPDATE 7/31/09

Well, it's now official, folks. As though to validate your scribe's post of yesterday, today Georg Jensen sports a large sign on the front door announcing their, consolidation, as they call it. And yup, take whatever you want at 75% off. Just remember Jefferson's advice....


Blogger MP said...

It is also sad to see the venerable Partridge & Rockwell (on the Post Road next to McDonalds) closing as well.

It is too bad avarice stops the small businesses from returning to Greenwich Avenue. Perhaps, at some point, the landlords will finally figure out that what made Greenwich Avenue appealing (unique family-owned businesses) to begin with should return. To do that, however, they will need to put aside their unadulterated greed.

Meanwhile, those who are interested in unique shopping head off to Old Greenwich and Byram.

July 31, 2009 10:43 AM  
Blogger Bill Clark said...

That's new news to me, MP. Sorry to see Angelo go, but I think his business has been suffering for years.

I absolutely agree with your second paragraph. And your third. I couldn't have said it better!

July 31, 2009 11:41 AM  

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