This morning, I received this email image from Borders…
There have been a lot of mixed feelings about the potential bowling alley that is rumored to be moving in (SEE BELOW). Some local residents love the idea, while others are a little ticked off. Rumors aside, there are even some residents who fear that this big chain store closure is only the beginning of a sort of closure movement where other storefronts in the area will begin to follow suit.
I see a couple of issues with this part of the neighborhood and the businesses that they attract. The ball park pretty much draws people into the neighborhood from mid-April to late September (October if they ever make the playoffs!). The rest of the year, this part of the City depicts that scene in the movie, Vanilla Sky where Tom Cruise is walking through Times Square. Therefore, building such a large retail space only allows large retailers to move in as small businesses can barely afford the rent in the smaller spaces they’re in.
Borders learned the hard way that taking over such a large space in South Beach is not easy on a year ’round basis. If you take a walk along King Street, you’ll notice that this is one of the few places in San Francisco that has mostly chain stores. In a City that prefers “Mom & Pop” establishments, this area isn’t “Mom & Pop” friendly.
There’s been a lot of talk in the District 6 Supervisor Race about creating a District 6 that is a great place to live and work. The problem with the South Beach area is that people want their Luxury Condominiums, but also want unique stores and restaurants. If you’ve ever worked at a cafe or small retail store, chances are you couldn’t afford a $700,000 Condo at the time.
The Solution? Smaller, more affordable retail locations as well as some (ANY!) Middle Class Housing options. Not the kind of middle class housing that makes you not be able to afford to go out because you’re too concerned about making a mortgage payment; housing options that allow people to work and shop in “Mom & Pop” stores.
Otherwise, get used to revolving door retail in South Beach.
Original Post from August 24th:
Charles Dickens wrote this in the opening line of his classic, A Tale of Two Cities. It’s as if he was thinking about the state of South of Market in 2010. With all the new restaurants and businesses opening all over the neighborhood, it’s sometimes tough to remember that we’re still in the middle of a pretty bad recession.
Yesterday, my inbox blew up- well, I wouldn’t say ‘blew up’- we received quite a few inquiries about the Borders Bookstore location at 200 King Street. Truth be told, I have heard grumbles down in South Beach for a while about Borders closing their doors, but my main source was literally a stranger on the street, so I didn’t think much of it at the time.
Thanks to LiveSOMA reader, Liz (You Rock!), we now know that they’ve begun the process. As of yesterday, their window displays are covered by the signs you see above. “Store Closing!”, “This Location Only!”, “Nothing Held Back!” According to a very helpful coffee barista at Seattle’s Best (inside of Borders), they are set to close their doors for good on Saturday, October 16th.
If you look around inside the store, you’ll notice that pretty much everything is about 30% Off their normal prices. That makes their music and dvd sections almost reasonable compared to other stores!
I’ve read in recent months about the tragedy that is Barnes and Noble, and Borders announced late last year that they would be closing about 200 Mall locations in 2010, but 200 King Street isn’t in a mall, and it wasn’t part of their closure list.
So why is Borders Closing on King Street? Is it a reflection of the local audience? I know the Kindle and iPad are growing in popularity, but is it more popular in South Beach to the point where nobody reads physical books anymore? Or perhaps they can’t handle the long, cold and often rainy Giants’ off-season, where foot traffic slows to a near crawl?
So What’s in Store for the 200 King Street Location?
A few weeks ago, when I first heard the rumor that Borders was closing, the woman I was talking to also mentioned a bowling alley as the expected replacement for the struggling book chain. Granted the location seems large (and long) enough to accommodate a bowling alley; but what sort of news (other than a lot of main stream media) is based solely on rumors?
Now that this woman is the closest thing to Nostradamus that I have ever come across, I guess I should take her prediction as the best possible solution. I still wasn’t satisfied though, so this morning, I took a walk over to 200 King and stopped in for coffee (Borders wasn’t open yet). While I was ordering my cup of joe, I engaged the barista in conversation about the location. After all, the big yellow banners in the window make the news ‘public knowledge’.
According to the friendly barista, the talk of the coffee shop is about a bowling alley AND a laundromat replacing Borders. My guess would be the laundromat replacing Seattle’s Best, and the bowling alley taking over the rest of the space.
We already have a bowling alley in SOMA (inside of Yerba Buena Gardens), but it’s a small bowling alley, and it’s kind of in a secluded location that not many people seem to know about. Perhaps the addition of a bowling alley near AT&T Park will help to further solidify this part of the neighborhood as an entertainment destination.
Hopefully it becomes an entertainment destination year round in the process! I’m not sure who needs a laundry mat in that area, as I would hope that expensive condo’s come with their own washer and dryer units, but maybe there’s an unknown building in the area that doesn’t provide their residents with such an amenity. Either way, people can come from all over the City to spend a few hours doing laundry. What a great distraction a couple games of 10 frame is while you’re washing your delicates.