Monday, July 23, 2018

Downtown Bend is booming. The world has turned nerd.

Downtown Bend is booming. I wish I could go back thirty years, pull myself aside and say, "Duncan. Hang in there. Someday your store will be a happening place."

It sure showed no signs of that back in 1984. My neighbor and I used to sit out on the sidewalk and play cribbage for hours. If a customer came along, we'd get up and do our business, then come back out and continue our game. We were rarely interrupted.

You could have shot a cannon down the middle of the street and not hit anyone.

It's not all great. There are still slow times, but, man---when it is busy, it is really busy, especially if the events don't get in the way. (Last weekend was 20% better than the Bend Fest weekend.)

A few years ago some real estate guy was quoted in the Bulletin as saying that this growth was "inevitable," what with the river and the great old buildings. Well, the river was always there and the buildings frankly aren't all that great. It wasn't inevitable. It was a long slow build, and I believe it could have tilted in a different direction.

Admittedly, we had some high powered developers around here who made it happen. But still...this is the kind of thing that takes time. I see downtown Redmond slowly moving in that direction too.

We've been fortunate to be able to stay in the same place for 37 years. The rents have gone up considerably, as you might imagine, but I always calculated that the potential increase in foot traffic would pay for it. It was a gamble, but it worked out.

As in other parts of my life, I haven't changed all that much. I was always a big nerd, the store has been there forever, I've lived in Bend my whole life. Instead, the world has shifted in my direction.

It's kind of startling, really.

Who knew the whole world would turn nerd?

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