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There’s a new ad campaign in my fair city that has been started by the owner of one of my favorite little shops in town. This shop is a funky, eclectic little boutique that sells jeans for $200 and cute handcrafted affordable to expensive-ish jewelry and retro-ish cool kid musthaves alongside fun vintage purses and aprons and household machines and environmentally friendly childrens items as well as sweets and cards that are so not hallmark. I like this store. I have yet to purchase a pair of jeans there, but just about everything else in the store is worth a look at. The interesting thing about my favestore is that it is so very unlike most of the other stores around here that belong to large corporations or franchisees.
And that is precisely why I like it. It is next to another toy store filled with wacky robots and weirdo collector goods and fab tees that even my teen thinks “are pretty cool, mom.” And next to that store is an independent record store (ok… no records, but good indie releases), and then next to that store is the piercing/tattoo site of popular puncture, and on the other side, around the corner is the local skateshop and the mid-century furniture dealer who won’t sell to you if he doesn’t like you (sometimes he likes me, sometimes he doesn’t). This is a great little shopping center in the midsection of town across the street from the posh grocery that we venture to for ‘specialty items’ because milk and cereal prices there are enough to break the bank. The locale is very unlike the rest of the city, the patrons are very much unlike the locals, and the products are not popular among the people who live in my neighborhood. The goods are wanted by passers-by, are coveted by kids who attend the outofreachtuition college prep schools across the intersection, the toomuchmoneyandnotenoughstuff set.
When the economy was booming, business at my favorite store was bursting out the door. Now that incomes have shrunk and passersby are either stuck here or in the process of being foreclosed on, there’s an echo about the place. I’m figuring the owner thought that her stylish campaign would remind people like me to continue our patronage of her shop so that she might be able to keep her cool spot in this hotcity. Even more, the distance between the haves and the just buying on credit (havenots) is becoming much more distinct and separating her market amongst those who can still afford her wares. I’m not so sure that the number of people purchasing those outrageously expensive jeans at this point is enough to keep open the doors of places like my favorite shop. In fact, I’m gonna guess that it is not, hence need for an ad campaign at all. And this is really the crux of the money crisis, isn’t it? Over the last few years, I have been crowded out of used furniture and small resale shops because the mid-century vision that I love had came back in favor with the economic-bubblers. They had extra cash so they spent it on crap like jeans made for less than $10 yet overpriced to sell for those who wanted to buy trendy luxury. And buy people did. They bought things that looked an awful lot like my funky valuevillage decor for outrageously large sums, they went out to eat in trendy places that were bought up as franchise opportunities, Now those same pair of pants are not worth the hanger they are strung from. Why, you ask? The plain truth of it is that only an insane idiot who would lay out even that much for extras at this point in our collective credit-history!
There are lots of small businesses in this town doing very cool things, but they are disparate from one another literally, by placement. This is not a city that worries too much about silly little things like say, zoning; so there are competing market places like this that cropped up all over the valley when there was money to be had, houses were going like gangbusters, and the gasoline flowed better than did the water down a dusty road. But that time is over. If these stores want to keep their lights on, they have to rethink their markets. Now is the time where shops have to reconsider why they started, how they sell, and who they serve. Because most people here would like nothing better than to leave, especially before the melting sun begins beating down the stucco and plasterboard mcmansions that have been overdeveloped in this dessert landscape and aren’t worth the paper the deed was printed on. A lot of those housingbubble victims will pack it in, heading back to their extendedfamilies and hometowns (because nearly no one who lives here is actually from here) and leave a vacant tumbleweeded yard in their filthy rearview. So that the outflux of poeple and their wallets leaves our community as a largely depressed and disenfranchised populace with a shrinkingyetstable, but not wealthy, elite.
So where does that leave us? Really…? Those of us who are stuck here (and ya’ll know that I’m stuck coz of the fam and not the money woes), are just stuck. Truthfully, if we are here there has to be some places that are worth living for. So I suppose the logic of myfavestore’s owner is clever. Yet I just do not know if I can buy into all this thoughtprovoking logic. Is supporting this store going to make my existence in this hotcity nightmare go more smoothly? I just don’t think so. How fulfilling could owning a $200 pair of jeans be? Love or leave…