Downtown. The Soul of Every City.
By: Ben-Zion Eni
Cities. Each has its own personality. A unique character that has been shaped by its history and geography. And the soul of every city is its downtown. Downtowns are where Settlers cultivated the first years of a city’s existence. Without the early downtowns, there wouldn’t be cities. As a show of good faith, Downtowns sprang forth trusting in its citizenry to sustain her.
To this every city owes it it’s gratitude.
What then does a downtown owe to its city? I think it would benefit us as business owners that operate in a downtown to consider this for a moment. This is a challenging retail landscape of high rents and crumbling infrastructure. More people work from home and shop on-line. The North American downtown must keep itself relevant in this new era.
How many different ways can you interpret a cup of coffee?
There is a passion that must exist in order to be successful at creating a business. It is our unique expression of our product that represents us. The experience that my fellow compadre coffee shop owners provide is particular to that shop. The art on our walls and the music we play will be a declaration of our particular tastes. Diversity is the role of every downtown and is also the responsibility to our city. When traveling to other cities, it’s in the downtown cores where we gain an understanding of who and what that particular city is about. The mark of every community is its downtown. Christmas and Canada Day parades take place down Main Streets. This is where we showcase our communities. It is here that one of a kind stores exist. Great restaurants and greasy spoons, fine hotels and seedy dives share this part of town. Streets are alive with sights and sounds!
The way we interact with our customers will not be scripted from a corporate manual.
We shun uniforms (let us consider this word for a moment.. uni-form … of one form.. ACK !) as conforming. It is the objective of every Mc Tim-bucks to serve the identical experience whether in Kansas City or Tokyo! This Homogenization of culture is the risk we take when not supporting an owner-operated establishment. Are we prepared to see the world look the same where ever we go?
I hope we are not prepared to desert our downtowns. Ultimately the decision about whether the corporatization of the retail environment is a good thing or a bad thing is not mine to make. We all get to vote on this issue every day, and that vote is cast with where we decide to spend our money. My vote will always be diversity, and it is this that a downtown owes to its City.