In case you haven’t noticed, New Haven has some retail space for lease. (Side note: Looks like Red Tomato isn’t long for this world, which is 0% surprising.)
In fact, you can’t throw a rock without hitting an empty restaurant/bar spot downtown. While some, like the ol’ Kelly’s/Black Bear/Tavern NH Black Hole, seem to have been quickly gobbled up by the proven (Brother Jimmy’s) and semi-proven (owners of Elm City Social), others remain vacant.
Especially the new apartment buildings, like College and Crown and Novella, have new retail spaces that are currently sitting vacant.
Listen, I know the city wants another bougie cafe. You know, cause thirty coffee shops isn’t enough for a city of 130,000. But for some reason, nobody seems to want to open one. Maybe it’s time to think about some other options.
Luckily, that’s where I come in. With ideas from my brain.
Electronics/Video Game Retailer
Do you know how big the video game industry is in the United States?
It did about $23.5 billion in revenue last year.
And do you know how many video game/software/electronics retailers there are in New Haven?
Zip. Zero. Zilch.
If I want to buy a new video game (and I do), I have to get in my car and drive to North Haven or Orange like some kind of idiot. Or I have to download it and hope my PS4 has enough space and who knows when Comcast will think a data cap is a brilliant idea.
But no, why get a Best Buy or Gamestop in here when you can open up another European boutique makeup store nobody can afford to shop at.
Pop-Up Performance Space
While New Haven has done some interesting things with pop-up retail spaces on Church St and elsewhere, why not turn one of these spaces into a temporary, city-run pop-up performance space?
For instance, I do a bit of comedy here and there, as do some of my more clever friends, and it’s always tricky to find somewhere to put on a show, cause while bars will do it, they generally prefer cover bands playing Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy” for the millionth time, pushing you to the brink of suicide and…
… well I digress.
But why not temporarily fill these spaces with some sort of art or performance space? I’m sure there are qualified folks in New Haven. We have a ton of brilliant artists and performers.
Another point of convenience. When I need hardware, I can go to… uhhhh… er… well, see.
I guess you can go to Rite Aid and hope. But your hope will soon be demolished by the reality that they simply don’t carry much anything past sticky hooks.
Granted, hardware stores tend to cater to the suburbs and New Haven is a bit more city-like, but nonetheless, you’d think something like a Home & Garden shop could work. A lot of people work in the city and they can run errands at lunch.
Now obviously you can’t reasonably fit a Home Depot anywhere (well maybe at the Russian Lady/Playwright, wouldn’t that be fun?), but something smaller like a TrueValue or something certainly seems possible.
Or maybe I just don’t want to have to drive to North Haven to buy one single M5 0.8mm bolt.
(That might be it.)
Another Pizza Place
Just kidding. Please stop.
Permanent Public Market
These are permanent markets in locations where various vendors and restaurants can sell their food in a single, desirable location. There are probably a ton of smaller businesses in the Greater New Haven area which can’t afford downtown rents, but would love to get a chance to reach the downtown market.
They give off an urban vibe but also cater to small businesses and are often vibrant downtown locations which imbue those areas with personality.
I mean, I don’t want to tell the city that nobody is ever going to run a successful bar where Russian Lady was.. .but… if you come to that conclusion independently, it’s okay.
I know, I know. It’s not realistic.
You’d probably need to station an entire squad of police here. And I don’t even want to know what kind of madness would go down here.
But you know what? New York is a pretty crazy city, too, and they manage to pull off having diners. So it’s theoretically possible.
I don’t want to take anything away from Cody’s Diner, but the fact that I can’t get a grilled cheese at am is a damn shame.
New Haven already has limited late-night options, so I think a diner COULD work. But obviously… it would require an immense amount of supervision.
And probably a bouncer. Or four.