Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Little Sad News

I've been getting a bad vibe about business in Berkeley for about half a year now. I noticed a lot of things closing - the Foot Locker, the Gap, LaVal's, a number of small stores on College, a bunch more on the stretch of Telegraph Avenue between my house and the school... To complement that, a lot of new retail space has just remained unfilled. See the empty storefronts in the new apartment building across from Andronicos, those in the building across the street south of Willard Middle School.

And now this: Famed bookstore's last chapter -- Cody's on Telegraph to close.

I think this quote is revealing: "It's [Fourth Street] more upscale and more comfortable,'' Bates said. "Telegraph Avenue is a great place, but some people don't want to go there.'' The Bates quoted is the Berkeley mayor. A few paragraphs down, "He blamed Berkeley city officials for neglecting Telegraph and instead focusing their efforts on other shopping corridors such as Shattuck Avenue in the downtown area. 'The Berkeley City Council left Telegraph to go to seed with a lack of upkeep and lack of interest,' Yetter said." Yetter works at Moe's Books have a block down from Codys'.

I have to agree with Yetter. Describing Telegraph as "gone to seed" pretty much sums it up. The thing is, the storefront is such a large property, I don't see it getting filled quickly (though I hope I'm wrong). Having a giant vacant cornerstore is not going to help move along the rest of the neighborhood.

Well friends, I'd recommend making one last stop at Codys' before getting out of here for the summer. It actually will be our last.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is sad news indeed. I enjoyed your thoughtful comments.

Cody's is an important part of the literary soul of Berkeley. I think it is a failure of the city of Berkeley that they allowed Telegraph to devolve to such extent that a place like Cody's sees no reason why it should stay there.

I hope this serves as a wake-up call for Berkeley to improve Telegraph, or, at least, not let other commercial neighborhoods slide into seediness.

5/11/2006 9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes, I can sympathize with the street-people and/or homeless who work as professional pan-handlers on Telegraph. I understand some of them face mental health challenges and troubled family histories. A good society doesn't let its heart turn completely cold to their lot in life. I wonder what would happen if a family member or I lost everything, got cut off, and lived like the street-people.

Nevertheless, despite all of these empathetic thoughts, most of the time, I despise the street-peoples' annoying, repulsive presence.

How's that for honesty ...

5/11/2006 9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's tough - I love books so much that I usually get them at the library instead of buying them - so I can't say that I'm a great customer, yet I love bookstores and especially Cody's (and do make a point of buying books from local stores when I do buy them)!

Perhaps Mrs. Dalloway's on College will benefit from some new business at least.

Speaking of the building at Parker & Telegraph, I was notified as a area resident that a tattoo parlor has applied to rent there. It's not exactly what I would want to see in that location (especially with 7/11 already dragging down the corner to have a number of muggings last year) but I don't know how to formulate a valid objection to the City. Any thoughts?

5/11/2006 9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:17, I couldn't have said it better myself. A good indicator of the moral quality of where one lives is how it treats it's poorest people, and by that standard Berkeley is one hell of a wonderful community. But I still hate walking down Telegraph avenue. The people there are very aggressive and it makes me avoid Telegraph at all costs. Too bad Cody's is taking the brunt of it. It's not Barnes and Noble's fault,'s those damned 20 year old pothead punks with their pit bulls demanding money.

5/11/2006 9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:22: I agree with you on the potheads, but, uh ... actually most of it IS Barnes & Noble's fault (and Amazon and Borders and even Wal Mart) - it's not like the thousands of independent bookstores that have closed in the last decade all had pitbulls and punks lurking around. I don't want to overly sentimentalize the situation, but for people who love books, a Cody's truly is a world apart from a discount chain store. Not to mention the collapse of community identity, the economic value of spending locally, etc.

This is so depressing! Good thing we have such a fired-up graduation speaker to help lift spirits. Oh, wait ...

5/11/2006 9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least we still have Moe's. It's just two doors down.

5/11/2006 10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not Barnes & Nobles' fault or Amazon's or Wal-Mart's, it's ours for shopping at those places. It's just easier to blame the companies which are succeeding.

5/12/2006 10:45 AM  
Blogger Tom Fletcher said...

It's also not those stores fault because Codys' matched them for selection. B&N and Borders killed the little book stores that did not have the selection. COdys' was killed by people choosing to patronize those (or other) places for reasons not related to supply. Maybe it was the lack of a coffee bar at Codys'. Maybe it was the lack of parking. Maybe it was the Satan worshipper who sat on the corner out in front. I report, you decide.

5/12/2006 10:57 PM  

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