In retail, appearances aren’t everything. They’re the only thing.

I’ve pontificated upon main street retail numerous times on this blog, yet I still haven’t come close to running out of good material. The subject (and retail in general) is deeply sensitive to individual circumstances, and the ingredients of a healthy, vibrant, low-vacancy main street often evolves steadily, right along with our shifting consumer preferences.

Looking for the Americana of yesteryear? Just visit your closest inner city.

Throughout the densely populated central city neighborhoods of Allentown, bodegas punctuate the street corners. Much of the housing in the area predates widespread car ownership, so the rowhomes lack any space for a garage, a driveway, and—in many instances—anything more than a tiny garden plot. In other words, we encounter housing built right up to