Today marks the opening of a 7-11 outpost at the corner of North University and State Street, taking over the space vacated by Ritz Camera. I'm not sure what the relevant differences between 7-11 and the Diag Party Shoppe, which is just down the block, will be, but that's probably because I don't patronize either. I do, however, act patronizingly towards both.
To my mind, State Street has turned into a veritable strip mall over the last year. The depressing loss of Shaman Drum Books in Summer 2009 was a blow to fans of independent booksellers - and independent vendors. It was replaced partially by Pitaya, a boutique that I realized was a chain after I spotted one in Royal Oak a few months later. The other half of the Shaman Drum space has been converted into a Five Guys set to open in January.
North of the State Theater a new CVS has been slated to open forever, but mostly all it's done is impeded traffic by blocking off State Street between Liberty and Washington for the last two months. Given that State just reopened between Washington and Huron over the summer, one wonders if this is just a cruel trick by the AATA to prevent innocent bicyclists from traveling between, say, Kerrytown and the Law School.
I don't begrudge the presence of chain stores - they serve a purpose, and it's good for those without cars to finally have access to a drug story downtown - but I'll start to really worry once Loews takes over the Michigan Theater and Bivouac turns into a North Face outlet.