Many years ago, on this blog, I postulated that, in vibrant downtown areas with lots of small, family-run businesses, an aging, outdated exterior sign might actually be a selling point. Even if the paint is a little chipped or the letters a bit rusty—a tiny bit (not too much!)—a visibly old sign is a tacit
Porto-johns and private business: a middle ground between serving customers and the community at large.
At first blush, it’s strange and disarming that a well-kept little retailer with tourist cachet wouldn’t even have a restroom available to customers. But that’s exactly what this sign in the front door of the Ulu Factory in Anchorage is telling us. It really couldn’t be more explicit. The winsome little chalet on the outskirts
Verdant and breathtaking as much of Alaska might be, the Last Frontier is no great shakes when it comes to biodiversity. Such is the nature of boreal forests in general: they typically host few varieties of tree species, although the ones that thrive are as abundant as one might expect in a mostly uninhabited, vast
Singling out an apparently unsuccessful business is even too cruel for a cad like me—especially when the business is still functional. (I have no problem conducting an entrepreneurial post-mortem though.) That said, since the business in question here not only is still operating but was in operation while I shot these pics, I have to
I’m hardly the most well-versed person in typography —far less than a good old friend of mine who runs a burgeoning podcast on tales of the supernatural—but I enjoyed computer fonts enough as a child that I can still recognize some of the most prevalent ones from the late 80s up to the mid 90s.
As someone who enjoys long road trips (perfectly fine if they’re solitary), I can never get enough of the small, often amusing telltale indicators of the cultural composition that distinguishes a place. The visual shibboleths, if you will. Venturing across Interstate 70, one of the oldest, longest, and most heavily traveled segments of the original
More times than I can count, I’ve explored the country’s mismatch between the supply of retail-oriented real estate and the broader public’s demand. We just have too many shopping centers. And it’s always been that way. Even in the best of times—the peak of the suburban mall during the 1970s and 80s—our historic downtown storefronts
It’s been a tough decade or so for the American retail scene, a condition I’ve explored numerous times in the past. Social turbulence, exacerbated by a pandemic and the erratic response to it, only further maimed an already hobbled industry, facing persistent pressure from online commerce. The fact remains that people just don’t go out
For the last decade or so, it’s been not too difficult to spot a specific type of vehicle parked on the street or driveway in residential neighborhoods. Here’s an example in a quiet lower-middle class part of Alexandria, Virginia: Yes, it’s the formerly ubiquitous (but hardly obsolete) food truck. Before its explosion in popularity about
By this point, we’ve all encountered the legions of business closures induced by COVID-prompted shutdowns of commerce and travel over the last year. I’ve tried to avoid too much of the cynical coverage of vacancies, instead focusing on clever strategies that various storefront retailers have deployed to generate sales from a carryout vantage point, when