You all are on Alameda Peeps on Facebook right? If not, you can always hit me up for an add but honestly if you have a low tolerance for complaints you should probably pass. There are several threads which generally hit the same overarching theme: retail shops. Most people are not pleased that there are too many chain stores, or nail shops, or yogurt place, or [insert despised retailer of choice here].
And I know I’ve written my own numerous responses to these complaints about the “wrong” kind of retailers in Alameda. But because people are freaking out about the chain retailers at Alameda Landing and then picking on local whipping boy: the nail salon, it’s probably a good time to write this.
First with regard to Alameda Landing. According to the deal agreed to years and years ago, in order for Alameda Landing to not decimate the Webster Street corridor there was an agreement that the retail spaces for Alameda Landing would all have a larger square footage. That way, the small mom and pop shops needing smaller footprints (think Cookiebar) could find a suitably sized home on Webster Street and wouldn’t be tempted to move to shinier digs at Alameda Landing — because all the spaces would be too big. However, because the spaces are bigger the natural tenant that would be able to invest in a larger footprint would be a chain retail store. And not any chain retail store, typically chains that are owned by a corporation and not your friendly local franchisee trying to make a living as a small business. That’s why you’ll probably only see some larger scale chain business at Alameda Landing. Because it’s there by design. Naturally your artisan shop selling handmade baby sweaters knit by blind Tibetan nuns would be welcomed, but the demand is probably not high enough to keep it in business despite people declaring that they want unique items and not “junk from China.”
Second, about those nail shops. Again, these shops are generally small owner operated businesses which I thought we are all supposed to be in love with and want to support. And typically owned by people of color — mostly my peeps of color: the Vietnamese. If no one wanted to get their nails and toes done or their eyebrows waxed all of these businesses would go out of business. That’s the way that business generally works. If you are able to make a profit and the business is still popular, people stay in business. If no one visits your store and buys your products or uses your services, you close up shop. Despite people’s head scratching as to how all these shops manage to stay open, they do, and it because people get their nails done and their eyebrows (and other parts) waxed. Until the day that the unibrow comes back into vogue and the natural look is in for nails, people are going to visit these nail shops and I guess people will continue to bitch about them like they’re selling arsenic laced candy or something.
Third, if people don’t shop at these awesome stores we currently have and just lookie-loo through them and then go home and buy the products on Amazon because it’s cheaper, there is NO WAY these awesome boutiques can stay in business. So people can say all the time “oh I wish there was x, y, z in Alameda” but if the market, aka the people from Alameda, can’t support that business then they are not going to come. You aren’t going to see a restaurant selling $4 toast in Alameda probably ever because Alameda can’t support it. As classy and hip as we want to be in Alameda, we still love us some hamburgers and all those hamburger joints know that and want to cater to us.
Fourth, for god’s sake people do realize the Subway and restaurants like those are franchises, right? That means that some family has saved up enough money to plop down some cash, or taken the risk through a small business loan, for the ability to live the dream as a small business owner. Maybe you are too good for a $5 foot long (I don’t think this deal exists any more though…) but these are folks just trying to make a legitimate living.
So you can sit there and blame the powers that be and the City mothers and fathers so foisting chain stores and nail shops on us, but the power to bring business to Alameda and keep them here doesn’t lie with City government. The power is with people’s pocket books. If you don’t support the businesses that are here, then they will leave and they won’t be replaced by some hip and happening business full of handmade baby sweaters.