Friday, December 31, 2010

Chain Gang

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.


  1. I share the sentiment.

    50 years ago Shaman Drum would've faced stiff competition on that block alone with Slater's, Wahr's, Follet's. Wystan Stevens, no surprise, has an extensive collection of postcards and photographs of State St. through the decades. Very worth a long look.

    I take solace in knowing that there's at the very least an ebb and flow to it. Where Cosi has been for 9 years soon there will be La Marsa which, while not wholly independent, will be only the fifth of the southeast Michigan-only Mediterranean restaurant. Ed Davidson, owner and operator of Bivouac, is the building's owner and specifically kept it local (and, in my opinion, thankfully more upscale than so-called Great Wraps and Noodles & Co.).

    For every Chipotle, there's Sava's, for every Starbucks, there's Comet and Lab, for every Five Guys there's La Marsa.

    But seriously, 7-11? Jiminy.

  2. I have not special love for CVS. But I do think it will be nice for carless people in the area to be able to buy food and trashcans and soap.

  3. Living near there I also do look forward to the CVS. Moreso though I look forward to State St. opening up tomorrow.

  4. You don't have to worry about Loew's taking over the Michigan Theater.