Saturday, March 26, 2011

Another Window

I'm still letting things fester rest in the hopes that my mental dough will soften and expand and grow without my constant prodding. Your comments encouraged and inspired and even amazed me. You are a very bright bunch. 

While the dough is rising, I have another window to challenge your creative imaginations. Downtown Portland is losing yet another establishment. A real, genuine old-school photography store is closing its doors. First the used bookstore, now the photography store, what next? I hope they leave my beloved International House of Rotary Phones well enough alone.

The space is interesting. It's in the old Mechanics Hall building on Congress, sharing the bottom floor with an equally classic used clothing and consignment shop. To the right, a rather dreary and uninspired example of 1970s urban renewal. Foot traffic is a blend of professional, hipster, and drooler. 

For me, the real appeal is the facade -- including that fabulous green sign -- and the deep display windows that run along either side of the entry. Inside is a deep space to house all your delights. The dropped ceiling and fluorescent lights could easily be ripped out and the taller ceiling restored.

For some reason I envision a really cool Japanese bookstore like Kinokuniya in New York City - most notably because of its basement jammed full of amazing Japanese knitting and felting and sewing and otherwise crafty books, plus reams of paper pads and notebooks of every imaginable size, pens, erasers, pencils, desk gadgets, stickers, tapes, staplers, and all those bizarre yet completely charming accessories you simply must have. Paper stores are my Kryptonite.

But that's just me. If I were to hand you a blank check and the world were truly your oyster, what would you put in there? 

10 comments:

Anna said...

Clara, I would call it The Atelier, and it would be a place where custom knitters, dressmakers, jewelry makers, or other makers, would be able to rent/use space when needed.

I have wanted to make this space my whole working life, but it didn't happen. Maybe the space would be a bit small: I envisioned a lovely old, spacious Victorian in wonderful condition!

Anna

justthreadtwiddling said...

As a very egocentric individual, I often forget there is more than one Portland. As an inhabitant of another Portland, I notice that we also have businesses in wonderful storefronts that are leaving. I imagine wonderful fiber stores in all of them.

rho said...

Sounds like a place for Fleegal. I bet she has connections for Japanese books,material, teachers, visiting artists, fiber artists


And I really shouldn't type under the influence of Ambien.. The iPad screen is undulating....hard to type. ;-)

Heather Kiernan said...

Interestingly, upstairs in the same building is a private library. It is a beautiful building.

Janice said...

Vintage Store for clothing, books, linens. Let the locals clean out attics and such around there and earn some income.

Nanci said...

Like too many cities, Portland seems to be suffering the effects of the downturn. What this space needs is a fun pizzeria! Everyone loves pizza and it is affordable. And if it was not affordable for some, they could eat for free. Colorful, with music and energy, I would promote it as a 100% made in the USA business. I would hire local people to provide USA manufactured equipment and products to recreate the space, with locally sourced food products for the menu. I would have regular contests, support and sponsor arts/sports programs and provide space for community meal events to help create a positve spirit in the community. And I would have free cooking classes for children.
What a terrific place this would be.Just thinking about this makes me feel good.....

AngieSue said...

I see a store for locally-made/grown products. The display cases can showcase pottery, hand-spun yarn, flowers, bakery goods...all those wonderful things about Portland and Maine. I would like it to be THE place to go for information on local products and resources. "The Local"...I like it.

Liz said...

In the same vein as other posts - I see an artisan mall. Indie crafters and food vendors would each have a spot under the same roof to sell their wares. As a cooperative effort, what is so difficult to do individually suddenly becomes feasible. And the public has access to unique local items and can support their "neighbors"!

Lorna's Laces said...

How about a candy store/bakery run by a author of fiber related tomes? She could call it fotoshops and continue to use the great green sign.

NutmegOwl said...

I've seen what some of you are alluding to in Asheville, NC, where the former Woolworth's is divvied into individual artisan booths, much like a New England antiques "mall" yet the original structure remains intact ... just wish it were closer.