Monday, April 30, 2012

Ghettoizing a Good Neighborhood (Congratulations St. Paul MN)

This indie author is frustrated with the city she lives in.  St Paul, MN is my home, and I have to hand it to them.  I doubt no other city knows how to scream to residents "Don't spend you money here!  Go to the suburbs to shop, please!!!" quite as well. The city has managed to ruin shopping in just about every neighborhood within.

One exception would be Grand Av.  That avenue is full of trendy, funky shops where one can find clothing, shoes, jewelry, home furnishings, art to name a few things.  Oh, don't get me wrong.  The city sure tried to ruin Grand.  Several years ago they started letting in chain stores.  Yeah, that's smart.  Let's put in the same stores that are in all of the suburbs in an area with only street parking and one parking lot.  Yes indeed.  People will flock to the area to shop in the exact same stores they can find at a mall, just for the excitement of driving around looking for a spot to park for the first hour and a half.  That works.  Thankfully, the residents of the neighborhood protested this destruction of all things funky and passed a moratorium on allowing any more chains.  Whew.
We have lived in our neighborhood for about twenty years. It is a fine neighborhood...but things are changing.  There were mostly middle class families here...and there still are.  So far. There was, and is, also upper middle class.  Some lower middle class too.  In short, a great mix of people who work hard to provide for their families and to take care of their property. We had several restaurants and, on the other side of the freeway, a strip mall with a nice shoe store, 3 clothing stores, a Hallmark, several gift shops, and other things. That side of the freeway is not as upwardly mobile, but they were still hard workers. On our side of the freeway were the restaurants and Byerly's (a lovely grocery store), furniture, car get the drift. 

The genius's of city planning weren't having it.  Why have a thriving neighborhood with good retail when they could slowly erode it and then, in a few decades, throw millions at it and brag to the residents of the city that they had "come to the rescue" of a neighborhood in decline and "fixed" it!

How about if you didn't let it decline in the first place?  First it was the strip mall.  Someone new bought it.  Someone who buys up strip malls and turns them into ghetto shopping.  A discount card shop.  Hallmark left and then so did the crappy discount place. The Thrift Store and a used clothing store.  T. J. Max (yeah, I know one in a million people find cute things there.  Once a century).  Bye-bye to upscale Sonnies, Penney's, and Casual Corner. Famous Footware.  See ya, shoe store. Dollar Store. A health club that is really a joke.  A chain grocery store with half the products it's other locations have.  I can feel Byerly's pain. 
Our side of the freeway was next. Blood plasma donation center. Family Dollar. Be still my heart-a pawn shop is on the way!!!! Oh goodie.  Just to make sure Byerly's gets the message, an Aldi's.  Nothing better than cheap cheese curls that taste like puke.  But, hey, half the price of major brands. Restaurants closed.  Fast food is now king.

The people moving in are changing now, too.  Fighting in the yards, with people yelling at each other.  More piles of cars all living on one rental.  Because, yes, houses are being turned into rentals.  Our little street is still good.  A lot of the neighborhood homes still are good and the streets nice. But there is grumbling. I see the writing on the wall. They are set on ruining our little paradise so that they can rebuild in twenty years and brag about how they saved it. Bastards.

Oh, and downtown St. Paul?  NOTHING RETAIL!  There used to be lots of stores.  Now there is a Macy's more like a Sears.  When is the last time you have shopped for clothes at a Sears?  Point made.  Oh, and a men's haberdashery for those who pay $500.00 for a shirt.  Other than that, we don't want your money.  Go to the suburbs.

Oh, St. Paul. You are the state capitol!  There should be pride here.  Instead you are hell bent on making the city an embarrassment to live in.  Congratulations, you are winning.  We are so sad about this decline, but powerless to do anything about it.  Cries fall on deaf ears.  St. Paul, you should be ashamed.  Hang you head and cry.  I sure am.

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