A few posts ago, I wrote about chain stores Provo could and should bring to downtown. However, just as important as courting new businesses is thinking about businesses that won’t help downtown, and that won’t survive longterm.
The best candidate I can think of are bookstores and similar types of retailers that sell mass produced merchandise that can be easily picked up online. This Slate article is an excellent explanation of why, explaining that local book stores are inefficient, pricey, anti-literary, anti-consumer, and not all that local anyway. As sad as it is, bookstores aren’t going to bring in a lot of money in sales tax, they’re probably not going to survive long-term, and at least in Provo, they don’t have much of a history of hosting fascinating literary events.
Similarly, I don’t shop at record stores, electronics stores, etc. Though I lament that our society has made these things obsolete, it nevertheless has. The chain retailers I mentioned previously on this blog were chosen, in part, because they have a different business model wherein they use physical spaces to show off products, rather than necessarily sell them.
The point is that downtown needs businesses that can’t easily be moved onto the internet. That’s why it has become the food epicenter of Utah Valley, and why it also includes a lot of office space: neither of those things can be done online.