Yesterday, sitting at a coffeehouse in the George Street Arcade, Stacy and I pored over a map, figuring out where to go. Next to us, a man overheard us, and offered some locals advice. He mentioned Grafton Street, and said that it has been in decline because of all the mobile phone shops.
It reminded me of something I heard a couple years ago, when visiting Austin. I was drinking coffee (a leitmotif!) at Jo’s on South Congress, and ran into a friend I knew from San Francisco. We talked about how South Congress had been evolving, and she pointed at the (at the time) new Amy’s Ice Cream across the street. She mentioned how a cell phone store had been planning to move in, but that the owner of the Hotel San Jose put a stop to it (somehow, I forget how) and got Amy’s to move in, because she (the owner of the hotel) believed that cell phone stores are a blight.
And they are. No one likes having to go to a mobile phone store (except maybe, MAYBE, teenagers), but they are like kudzu on the global retail landscape. This is a bizarre phenomenon (do they really earn enough money to pay their rents?) and I’d love to better understand the economics of it.