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The value in small retail spaces


This month’s issue of Monocle is centered around fashion, style, and retail. And one of the most interesting pieces is a report on small retail spaces. 

The argument (which you can read in the preface shown above) is that micro retail spaces are incredibly important for entrepreneurship and urban vitality. Because if all a city has is large retail spaces, then you’re creating impossible barriers for new retail startups. The rents simply become too high.

It’s on page 79 in case you have this month’s issue or want to go pick it up.

After reading the article, I immediately thought of 2 posts that I recently wrote on related topics. The first is “Incubating new ideas in cities” and the second is “The hard things about retail.”

In the first post, I questioned how cities might be able to encourage and incubate new ideas alongside new development and buck the Jane Jacobian truism that new ideas require old buildings. And in the second post, I expressed my concern for a micro retail condo complex here in Toronto that appears to be struggling.

But maybe that micro retail complex is on to something (just with the wrong tenure: condo instead of rental). Maybe it’s as simple as starting with great urban design and small (affordable) retail spaces. 

It seems to be working for Columbia Road in London, Knez Mihailova in Belgrade, and Tower Theater in Los Angeles (the 3 examples that Monocle gives).

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