The Lost Village

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Greenwich Village jazz club scene and mentioned some of the great clubs that are long gone. DevraDoWrite is visiting the Village, her home town, and posts a lovely piece about her girlhood memories of the place.

Ansonia drugstore on Tenth Street and Sixth Avenue has probably been there for more than fifty years (I can personally attest to at least forty-five), and Bigelows a block and a half south is ancient too. Both used to have a soda fountain, and I loved Ansonia’s root beer floats and Bigelow’s butterscotch sundays. But what I miss most is the diversity of all the little shops and unique stores.

You can read the whole thing here.
Greenwich Village has no monopoly on vanished shopping diversity. It’s the same almost everywhere. Where I live, the downtown is virtually bereft of retail stores. An asphalt wasteland south of town contains the retail stores, and they are clones of stores in the other asphalt wastelands and malls across the nation. It’s the same in most medium and small towns. Seattle and Portland still have actual downtowns, although there, too, Devra’s “little shops and unique stores” are being chained out of existence. Go into one of those chain stores…The Gap, Banana Republic, Linens ‘n Things, Radio Shack, Starbucks, Eddie Bauer, McDonalds…and you could be anywhere. But you’re nowhere. Eddie Bauer started in downtown Seattle in the fifties as a Mom and Pop outdoor outfitter. The Banana Republic started in Mill Valley, California, as a kooky, endearing catch-all kind of clothing place. Each has been acquired by a chain, homogenized to serve corporate quarterly earnings, and bears no resemblance to what made it succeed in the first place. Their gain. Our loss.

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