A new spin in an old city.

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I snapped a bunch of photos of downtown Newark during my last visit earlier this spring, and while the experience will probably churn out several more substantive posts, I want to start with a small one that may soon exceed its shelf life. Back in April, a branch of the fast-casual restaurant chain Qdoba was …Read more…

Kmart: Blue light specials have left them in the red.

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It’s happening again! Sears Holding Corporation (SHLD) has announced yet another wave of closures for its two flagship brands, Kmart and Sears.  This time it looks like ten Sears stores will be closing, including one in the Southland Mall in Houma, Louisiana—a mall that was already struggling when I blogged about it in 2012. I’d speculate …Read more…

Second Street services in High Street storefronts.

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A little while back, in a meticulously photographed post on the blog Urban Indy, I noted many emergent urban main street corridors that fall short of their full potential for a single simple reason: they can’t secure the optimal types of tenants. It was a challenging post, because I felt like I was taking two …Read more…

Measuring malls through malleability.

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Hot on the heels of my podcast is another retail rumination. By now, it’s safe to assert that the conventional enclosed shopping mall—long the paragon of middlebrow American commerce—is an eviscerated zombie, trudging onward with no clear goal, and a huge contrast compared to the heydays of the 1970s and 80s. I’d wager that up …Read more…

When a vintage sign is like a fine wine.

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While I suspect virtually every adult has at one time experienced some sort of nostalgia, we all have different stimuli. It’s that much more appealing when it’s unexpected, which was exactly the case when I was out recently along a major highway in Dover, Delaware’s rapidly growing capital, and I saw this sign. Unexpected and …Read more…

Historical memory as a branding strategy.

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For my first blog post in America’s largest city, I introduce a topic that is incredibly small: really nothing more than a label. But it also fits perfectly within its milieu. Strolling down an almost exclusively residential block in the Chelsea neighborhood recently, I came across an apartment building with a huge promotional flag, featuring …Read more…

After a national chain is toast, who picks up the crumbs?

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When a recognizable meme gets untethered from its usual habitat—its preferred social and cultural context—it’s amazing how quickly people forget what it was intended to signify. That’s exactly the case with this neon sign in a downtown storefront window: Does it ring a bell? Probably not at first blush. But look at the general shape …Read more…