Berkeley is changing
I read an article in the NYTime’s National Report on Sunday about a book store, Cody’s Books, closing in Berkeley. Cody’s is closing. The once famous and fantastic store on Telegraph Avenue has been losing money for years and finally said enough. Other stores on Telegraph Avenue have taken a nose dive too. Why is what the article was really trying to answer or at least give the reader something to think about.
Times has changed. Berkeley has changed. The students have changed. The neighborhood has changed. The cost of homes have changed. A once radical socially progressive area has turned into something else. Guess what, so has the majority of the country. Look who is running the country. The demographics have changed.
Andy Ross, who owns Cody’s blamed a lot of it on the competition such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Locals will tell you it is either because of the City of Berkeley, the homeless, U of California, the war in Iraq, Ronald Reagan, the Internet or lack of parking. I agree with some of that but not all of that. There happened to be a picture of Cody’s in the paper. Lots of space. Why didn’t Andy Ross changed with the times?
Changing is happening everywhere. There is always room for new businesses and businesses that see that they need to change based on what is happening around them. Why didn’t Cody change the store. Sell more items but books, create a coffee/food area, downscale the space, venture into other areas of retail that complimented the books, etc. Is it sad they are closing, sure but someone else will come in with new ideas and regenerate Telegraph Street into something new and different.
This is no different than taking sections of cities that are being revitalized. Telegraph Street is exactly what has happened on 8th Street in NYC. The customer that shopped their 20 years ago does not exist anymore or at least there are not enough of them to keep a whole street in business. Read the neighborhood, read the customers who live here now, make the changes that are needed to keep your customers happy and keep new customers coming in the door. Restaurants that are around for years continue to do that or they end up closing too.
If you don’t change with the times, you can’t stay with the times. It is that simple.
As a UC Berkeley alumnus, it is sad to see an institution like Cody’s bite the dust. To see it closing it not nearly as tragic as what is coming though. The “malling” of Telegraph has happened in so many towns. The cookie cutter row: the Gap, Victoria’s Secret, B & N, Abercrombie, Banana Republic, a Starbucks, McDonalds or TGI Fridays, maybe a Ralph Lauren, too. It is just so boring. I cringe every time a store closes in my neighborhood (UWS) for fear of what is next. I try to buy local, but like Cody’s, some of these stores seem to self-destruct. Funny enough several of the Gaps have disappeared replaced by bank branches and nail salons. Economic Darwinism at work.
Looks like “Smart Growth” has lined the aspirations and pockets of even Beserkeley’s once radical and socialistically inclined city council’s pockets. Amazing what the prospects of increasing tax bases will do for pedestrian centric retail planning by many cities. It targets ares in regentrification as well as in the urban sprawl of newly developing demographics across the country.. I wonder how many of the businesses going in and that already have arrived sit jointly on comittees of municipal and corporate memberships. The synergistic reports of NALGEP, the Council of Mayors, and the Urban Land Institute provide great diagnostics and insight on Smart Growth communities. Info is availalbe going back a decade. Very interesting reading for the googler in all of us.
It IS very sad, Telegraph Ave is so commercialized now.