THE FUNK CONTINUES:
Of course, the funkiest part of old downtown were the owners. When the viable shops downtown fled to the malls, it was 40% vacant. That feels like a bomb zone. So what happens?
Like weeds, a scruffy bunch of bo ho's move downtown for the cheap rents. Little by little we build it into something unique and special. Others come along, and say to themselves, "I want to be part of that." Rents start to rise, buildings are sold and tenants evicted. A classier group of businesses come downtown.
And the funk is lost.
I always comment the Jackson Pollack went the Hamptons BECAUSE IT WAS CHEAP! Before that, artist congregated in Greenwich Village, and then SoHo. In Portland, it was the Pearl District.
The Bulletin just did a glowing story about Joyce, of the Curiosity Shoppe. Joyce was a downtown institution before she was forced to leave. My next door neighbor for 20 years, Jerry of the Sole Shop, was what would be known as a 'character'. Rena at Birkenstocks has retired.
In fact, there is almost no one left from when I started.
The casual customer doesn't realize that almost everyone downtown has been there for a relatively short span. These aren't the trailblazers, the risk-takers, the individualists that brought downtown Bend back from the brink.
A real estate agent was recently quoted as saying, "It wasn't the Mom and Pop businesses that brought downtown Bend back, it was the beautiful old buildings and the river."
Well, the river was there when downtown was tottering, and the old buildings were there (though they are rapidly disappearing.) It was nip and tuck, for awhile. In hindsight, it looks like downtown Bend coming back was a sure thing, but if you lived through it, it was far from certain.
I miss it.
3 days ago