The Cost of Doing Business

The Cost of Doing Business

For Lease Sign
Losing Our Center of Gravity

I live in Arlington Center. Like many of you, I’ve seen business after business close down, especially in the last year or so. I’ve watched in dismay and then horror as shops I’ve frequented for years shuttered their doors and moved away. These days, all I see are empty storefronts and For Lease signs where those small businesses used to be. I miss those folks and their services. I had my hair done at Heads Up for over a decade. I shopped at Derby Farm and got to know and respect owner Barbara Popolow. At one point she expanded the shop, a move which no doubt cost a great deal of money. Now it’s in East Arlington (fortunately still around!) and the former shop stands abandoned in the Center. I often treated myself to breakfast or lunch at the Madrona Tree (thank you, Tanya!) and am heart-broken at their forced exit. The same goes for the little frozen yogurt shop, the CVS and all the rest. Thank goodness The Artful Heart (here’s to you, Carla!) was able to relocate to another location a block away, but the move cost some serious money which the store now has to recoup. There are other businesses who are wondering if they’ll be next. And I wonder, will we be able to have dinner at Tango anymore? Will people driving through Arlington Center take one look and just keep going?

Empty Store Interior
I Used to Shop Here

I run a small business community and, as such, I have a personal stake in all of this. Landlords can charge what they want, of course, but small businesses may not be able to keep up with the cost. I’d rather have an independent business in those shops than a corporate chain that has deeper pockets but no commitment to the community. We’ve heard the statistics – local businesses keep the money here, corporate chains take it out. That leaves us all poorer, in more ways than one.

A number of media outlets, including the Boston Globe, have written about this. It’s distressing and there doesn’t seem to be anything anyone can do about it. Maybe it’s the activist in me (yes, I’ve been on a picket line), but I refuse to believe that we’re all doomed to go down with the ship. I have a feeling other Arlingtonians feel the same way.

For Lease Signs
Why So Many For Lease Signs?

So, what can we do? First, join the Support Arlington Center Facebook group. This group wants to make sure Arlington Center remains vibrant and full of small, local businesses. Check out their website, too.

Second, The Madrona Tree has a GoFundMe page. The restaurant may be gone, but it looks like their page is still up and running. Make a contribution. With enough resources, maybe they’ll be able to stay in Arlington after all.

Third, go shopping and eating in the Center! Let business owners know you support them and want them to stay. A lot of people are working to make that happen. Add your voice to the chorus!

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m recovering from a recent illness that had me in a hospital for over a week. Even with that, I plan to do what I can to help restore Arlington Center – my home – to its former health and prosperity. Can you help, too?

Best, Margy Rydzynski, Founder and Community Manager
Arlington Entrepreneurs

7 thoughts on “The Cost of Doing Business”

  1. I live in W. Medford, but Arl. Ctr. has been my default shopping area. It’s sad to see this happening to what had been a thriving community of mom and pop shops. I can’t imagine the greed of the landlords involved – it seems as if they are chopping off their feet. If the intent is to turn AC into another Harvard Sq., then it will certainly lose more customers to towns like Medford, Melrose and even Hudson (check it out) where young entrepreneurs are making inroads.

  2. Heads Up Salon has relocated / colocated across the street to share the space with European Hair Design on Medford Street. Inside, that place is like a time machine to 1978, complete with an 8-track tape player!

  3. Hi! I live with my partner in Brattle Square and love your post. More people need to read this! Has it appeared in the local papers as well? Arlington Center is distinct from so many other local squares because it is still, at it’s heart, unique and local! I love hearing my visiting friends and family get excited when they see an independently owned, year-round costume shop next to a music center, only a few blocks from a used book store and a theater. There really is no place like Arlington Center. There are things that property owners and management companies can do to keep it so attractive. They do have some power to choose their rates and their tenants. I hope these companies and individuals see that there is profit to be made in keeping Arlington Center unique and local.

    • Thanks, Abra. We all feel the same way about it! A few folks have suggested I get this post into some local papers. So far it’s appeared in yourarlington.com. I’m going to see if I can also get it into the Arlington Advocate and the Arlington Patch. Thanks again!

      • Awesome! I look forward to seeing it out there! Perhaps the Cambridge Chronicle? I know a bunch of grad students who have moved up to Arlington recently, some of whom are studying urban planning. It sounds like this has the makings of a great research project as well.

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