Potemkin Boutiques

Could Wheaton benefit from the creativity of town leaders in North Tyneside, England, where they are installing fake facades and window displays in some of their 140 empty storefronts in hopes it will lead to new investment by keeping the downtown shopping area “more vibrant.” Let’s see first if North Tyneside benefits; I am skeptical. It worked pretty well in 18th Century Russia (to the extent the story is true at all, that is), but not sure it will translate to the 21st Century. Catherine the Great didn’t have access to CNN or Twitter.

There really aren’t that many empty storefronts in Wheaton right now, anyway (maybe aside from the mall, where I have not set foot in many moons, so not sure about that). Will be interesting to see what goes in to the Ferdinand’s space, and how long that takes, and whether Pashion ever actually opens. But I don’t think we need fake stores to entice real stores. There might be more need in downtown DC, where there are quite a few empty storefronts, but the problem there isn’t so much vibrancy as (I suspect) ridiculously high asking rents despite a lousy economy.

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2 responses to “Potemkin Boutiques

  1. Doesn’t North Korea have an entire fake town just across the DMZ from South Korea? Now some might argue Silver Spring did something similar with its downtown a few years’ back, however I won’t touch that issue.
    Talking of malls – there’s quite the discussion down here in SS that the folks who own Sh***y Place Mall have announced some major changes in the offing! The general feeling amongst the bloggers is that it’ll just end up being “lipstick on a pig.”

  2. Are you saying SS is the Pyongyang of greater DC? Probably better not go there (figuratively speaking). Major changes! When it comes to malls and plans, take Mulder’s advice and trust no one.

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