During the last week I've begun a specific study of what makes small bookstores successful.
First of all from a town design standpoint, successful small bookstores, as it seems to those locating and operating these enterprises, and merely from a locational standpoint is that they are fitted into a “small town ambiance.”
What they have in common is that they are “small, cozy and friendly.” Of course our bookstore has all these characteristics, it's small, cozy and the coffee service certainly gives it an air of friendliness.
The reason for termination of the Schwartz's Bookstores seems included in the desire of the owner to get out of the total business. She is either selling or closing each of them. And ours is special to us.
I've been reviewing successful type of redevelopment and the significance of the current role of small enterprises. It seems that designed small town ambiance is preferred by these businesses.
And that this ambiance can be created even in large city areas by developing small shopping districts. This review has helped re-enforce my thinking about our own bookstore and the role in might play in our development of the Oakland shopping area.
These small enterprises make a significant social contribution to many of these redeveloped areas because of their coziness and friendliness. And we are lucky to have one of these to start with.
Although big box distributing units with the provision of huge parking areas seem to have thrived on the outskirts of cities in large shopping centers over the past number of years, they make no sense in the heart of small towns.
Small town centers thrive and are noted to develop their attractive character by accommodating small enterprises.
In addition to the social character that our bookstore here in Shorewood contributes to our community, it gives a friendly small town feeling to this area of our business district.
That brings back to mind, as a former practicing town planner and urban designer, the architectural ambiance that we might be aiming for here as to where the book store is located.
Even if Shorewood wants a big box type grocery store in a nearby location, it can be designed so that its street-side exterior can contain functioning small stores and contribute to that town square feeling and ambiance rather than present a wall characteristic of a bastion.
I am more confident than ever that design can make that contribution. But perhaps we must understand what we are talking about when speaking of small town ambiance and small town design. i suppose that this requires hands similar to those of town planning artists of the past.