These are all great points. David Wofford, I would argue that your assertion about tech culture in Durham, compared to the stereotypes about Silicon Valley that often get used in these discussions, are misguided. Again, full disclosure, our team at RUNAWAY has an office in American Underground, and our shop is in the newly renovated Trust Building. Our new neighbors, Blackspace, just opened up next door after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Both these businesses (owned by minorities) benefitted from the infrastructure of the "tech culture," and now have an opportunity to pay it forward back to the Durham community.
Durham is going to change. That is certain. HOW it changes depends a lot on what happens in the next 5 years, and how we choose to engage with the process.
Using tech culture as a scapegoat for decisions made by city government and developers (many of which don't live here or have roots here) could ultimately hurt Durham long-term. What we need is more discussion and participation around housing, commercial development, alternative transit, retail affordability, small business development, and so forth.
I am happy to have that discussion with anyone that wants to. My name is Justin, and I work at the RUNAWAY store. You're welcome to come find me.
It would be GREAT if the author could acknowledge that some people move around downtown Durham without using an automobile. This seems like an endorsement for American car culture and letting one petroleum guzzling invention dictate far too much in regards to daily life, infrastructure, and decision making. I say, power to the pedestrians!
I've lived in downtown Durham since 2008 and have never once thought, "Man, you know what Durham needs? More parking spots!" We are out there in this city, Mr. Sobsey.
The author missed the most important component of a vibrant downtown retail scene: people living downtown. There seems to be a perception that because there have been some apartments and condos that have opened in downtown Durham recently that there is suddenly some critical mass of people living (and thus shopping) downtown. But that's just not true. Until more people are living downtown, places like Cave Taureau are going to struggle to survive.
More troubling is the assertion that lack of parking was a big factor in the store's closing. The author makes statements like "But as downtown's parking crunch escalated, sales declined.", but provides no data to back up that assertion (anecdata is the journalist's favorite tool to support their already-defined narrative).
A PSA for potential small business owners who want to locate in the heart of downtown Durham: If your business model requires that a substantial portion of your customers will need to drive to your establishment, you will almost certainly fail. Downtowns are by their very nature the least conducive places to driving and parking because the land is too valuable for wide streets and parking lots.
Places like Cave Taureau (and other places that had relatively small shelf lives in downtown Durham like Reliable Cheese and Bar Lusconi) can only be supported if a large portion of their clientele can walk to them. These are neighborhood places in an area that is not yet a full-fledged neighborhood. They simply existed before their time.
Hmm, the faisanjan didn't turn out too well. Way too watery. I'll have to try it again sometime with half the water. It's seriously like a thin soup with 8 cups of water.
"The shame of it however is that it should not be the defining statement that unless you own the place, you will not survive."
I'd lay bets this will be the case for small business service and retail shops that are not associated with tech culture, alcohol, or businesses supported by capital venture dollars from outside the area (or Duke).
I wish it weren't the case but I don't see downtown moving forward being much other than condos, parking decks, tech startups and tech culture and a healthy smattering of bars and restaurants and tourists.
I hope I'm wrong and the area will bounce back quickly when all the tech carpetbaggers move on to the next mecca.
"Is The Closure of Cave Taureau a Bad Sign for Downtown Durham's Recent Retail Bloom?"
I'd say it's a sign that their offerings were overpriced and their selection inferior compared to, at least, Wine Authorities and Sam's, and probably even the Durham Co-op.
There is no doubt change for the better takes time. The city has moved in the right direction and the downtown businesses and residential occupiers have exploded. Parking is a challenge but not unsolvable. Many of the businesses that have gone under primarily went down due to impending increase in rent and some of us who have weathered the storm seem to have been fortunate in investing in the belief of a successful future so we bought. A risk which certainly has borne fruit. The shame of it however is that it should not be the defining statement that unless you own the place, you will not survive. That would be unsustainable. Exotique is now 10 years this year and many the businesses interviewed were not here in 2006 when we opened. We are cautiously optimistic moving forward and continue to gauge the need of the community.
Agree and disagree. It's not just shopping at boutiques that we're trying to get people downtown for. Example: the RUNAWAY store has an art gallery as well for people to enjoy locally produced art. Beyu Caffe curates musical events throughout their operating hours, both in the afternoon and evening.
Your definition of "working during the day" assumes a standard 9-5 job. Maybe in my startup culture bubble, this is only true, but many people I know take longer lunch breaks or just walking around breaks during the day to get some sunlight, rest their wrists, and so forth. So having activities available for those leisure times midday would serve the people who are making up a large percentage of Downtown's work force. You also have people that work restaurant and bar jobs that don't start work until 5pm and would enjoy doing things in town during the day.
Just a few thoughts. Not saying you're wrong in your assessment, just adding alternate perspective as someone who both owns a shop (aforementioned RUNAWAY) and enjoys hanging out downtown.
Businesses often open on an owners passion, irrespective of serving a market need. But they can't stay open and keep not selling what people want to buy.
The Chet Miller owner quote "we need to give people something to do during the day" is really worrisome. My first thought is... ummm... aren't they, like, working??? So this perspective assumes a certain leisure class who can just spend all day shopping in botiques, along with a psyche of consumerism that I'm not sure is around much post recession.
I know when I have free time (not during the day!) the first thing that comes to mind is spending time with the family, getting outdoors, or chilling with friends. Food and alcohol are nice compliments to this.
So, well, niche stores I guess are the thing. Which means laser focused marketing and advertising.
But was it vegan ice cream, Tina? Shame on you for promoting places that use products stolen from animals!
You read 50 Shades Of Grey?
I actually enjoyed the effort... And the read. Thanks for "trying so hard".
Dude, chill with all the descriptions, metaphors and the over the top writing. It's like reading a more poorly written 50 Shades of Grey...about food. Stop trying so hard.
Their food is delicious! I love the Mediterranean wrap. Excellent, super fresh healthy food reasonably priced. Can't beat it.
The way this article is written clearly indicates that Ms. Perez was more interested in showing off her intelligence than providing thoughtful critique of the restaurant. When reading just the portions of the article about the food, the result is a mixed to positive experience. My experience at Makus has largely been on the positive side, so we're almost in agreement here. However, the rest of the superfluous details set a snarky, derogatory tone that belies the most pertinent content. Did she really expect a fusion empanada shop near a Harris Teeter to serve cortados? Or is this article a vehicle to prove her worldly experience and refined palate. Above all else, do right by the store owner and the food.
Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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