Let Us Cry Over Spilled Milk
By Mason Entingh // Edited by: Web Smith
We said goodbye. Goodbye to not only our neighbors and friends at Milk Bar Boutique, the long-standing storefront who served our city’s style and culture for seven years, but also to a Short North characterized by fashion retail. Things ‘round here are changing.
Undoubtedly, the Short North has seen an exponential boom in business, foot traffic, and praise as the seventeen arches start to become the quintessential symbol of the city. Sure, Columbus in general has improved greatly over the last ten years; our attractions are seeing record attendance numbers, our education system is touted as one the best, and we are now one of the top 25 cities for recent college graduates heading out into the workforce. However, all of the momentum that our economy has is best represented by the remarkable transformation that High Street is undergoing.
For the restaurants and bars raking in the cash each night as all demogarpahics come to dine and drink, that’s excellent news. For the brick and mortar retail stores losing parking spaces and walk-ins, the glee is not shared. A Short North patron now has the opportunity to drink at three different establishments before even strolling past their storefront.
Considering what Whence CEO Web Smith wrote upon launching Whence in June in the article: The Reinvention of the Village Economy.
In short: we are currently witnessing the gentrification of Short North fashion retail; a trend that we hope to mitigate.
In several months, the Short North witnessed the closing of Substance, Repertoire, Milk Bar Boutique, and the pending closing of Larry Robertson’s Co-op Shop. Kingsrowe’s hours have been cut in favor of the very successful Sole Classics shop — owned by the same management.
The problem is compounded by a lack of parking, traffic congestion, and experiential food and drink competing against retail for dollars. At Whence, our mission is to prevent days like these. We are hoping to increase the reach of these businesses without requiring them to incur any additional costs. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
The hope is that fashion, food, and drink can thrive — together. We hope to be part of a solution that can potentially save local, independent retail. Columbus (and cities like it) deserves more local businesses like Tigertree and Homage. All they need is reach and frequency, a problem that Whence has begun to solve.
We mourn the loss of an iconic business. Greater Downtown Columbus just lost a special one. Cheers to Kareem and Eric. Seven years is an eternity in independent business but clearly not long enough.