company - education - coffee

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Top three things Porter Sq. Cambridge doesn't need

1. Starbucks
2. The Gap
3. Abercrombie Fitch/American Eagle Outfitters

Not too long ago there were a series of billboards featuring scantily clad male models peering lustfully down on Porter Sq. We can thank the billboard owner but we could wonder why it was there at all? It was such an out of place advert for an area where people are more inclined to wear clogs, ride bicycles, and bemoan gentrification.

It wasn't too long before vandals (we call them performance artists) took to paint ballooning the billboards. It happened twice before the message was clear that the ads were not targeting the right audience.

More recently, a struggling and somewhat misplaced outlet of The Gap closed in the Porter Exchange. Down the street from little unique shops like Joie De Vivre and across from Paper Source, this was long since out of style. Considering all the unique boutiques and the prevailing attitude among many who live in the area, it just wasn't a good fit.

The thing worth noting is that with the open space provided by the Gap left searching for a nice strip mall, there are rumors that a Starbucks is moving on that location. Porter exchange needs a Starbucks like Harvard Sq. needs more banks.

It's not so much that Starbucks is doing anything wrong, it's that by simply moving in, they will be displacing several businesses in the exchange. The bubble tea kiosk is most assuredly gone and the Japonaise bakery kiosk is rumored to be leaving as well. The ice cream place in the back is rumored to leave and I can only assume the coffee kiosk downstairs is gone also. What worries me though is that the culture of Japanese restaurants there will begin to change or be uprooted by this shift. It is one of the things I enjoy most about the neighborhood there. The Udon and the Ramen shops, sushi at Kotubukiya or Blue Fin, curry at Cafe Mami, or simply a bowl of Bibim Bap at the Korean shop and snakcs at Kotubukiya Japanese Grocery. I just don't feel like we need more corporate brands so much as a need to preserve the cultural/community locations. That and there is a Starbucks on Beacon and in both directions on mass ave, making this the fourth in a ten minute walk of my house.

Mark this under rants rather than coffee.