The Demise of In-Store Retail

After the Thomas Fire killed the holiday shopping season for State Street in December 2017, it looked like a lot of local shops would fold. I organized some “cash-mobs” to bring them a bit of hope. Here’s the Independent’s article about these events: https://www.independent.com/2018/01/05/cash-mob-descend-on-state-street/

During one of the cash-mob gatherings, I asked the assembled locals if any of them would do the “No-Amazon” pledge for a month. None of them would. Okay. How about for two weeks? Again, none. One week? Nada… Not a single one would give up online shopping. And that was before the pandemic hit.

Our city had done everything it could to keep downtown retail alive. And then, we — and cities across the U.S. — got Amazoned. Retail, as this once was, is officially dead. So, please, city planners, do not fantasize that killing in-street dining will somehow stimulate in-store shopping.

Even though the current State Street people-scape is intensely ad hoc and needs some real work, the daily spectacle of hundreds of people enjoying the street is a remarkable achievement. More people are having more fun every day on State Street than ever before. With actual planning and redesign we can maintain this conviviality and build back beauty. Retail on State Street will never be what it was. We need to move on.

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