Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Catalog of Collapse: The Shuttered Storefronts of Eagle Rock, Summer of 2009

Shuttered storefront on Colorado, next to Tobacco Planet. I don't remember what it used to be.

recession: the decline in aggregate economic activity following the peak of a business-cycle expansion; officially defined as real GNP falling for two consecutive quarters. It is usually associated with rising unemployment of people and resources.


The former site of Regeneration, the unlucky national face of hard times in Eagle Rock.

I recognize that, in doing these reviews, I often come off as a shameless Eagle Rock booster. And it's true: I have unbounded optimism for our neighborhood.

Still, the signs of economic distress, the very tangible effects of the Great Recession, are all around us. A closed storefront is startling at first, but then fades into the unnoticed landscape, and is forgotten.

The former site of Another World Comics, and planned site of Green Goddess, a proposed medical marijuana site that appears to have been scrapped.

I am posting these photos of closed storefronts throughout Eagle Rock at what I hope is the bottom of the downturn, our inverted Brenschluss point, where our downward trajectory flattens out and we begin an upward arc.

And if we are in fact at that bottom point of the cycle (n.b. here how much the theory of economic cycles has in common with the ancient image of the wheel of fortune), then these pictures are not solely images of decline and economic devastation -- though, make no mistake, each closed storefront represents a world of anxiety, fear, crushed hopes, loss of security. Recognizing the pain the owners of these closed businesses have endured and continue to endure, it is unavoidable that we also recognize that these images may also be seen as images of possibility and opportunity.

This appeared to be a former kitchen remodeling store on Eagle Rock Boulevard. The documents posted on the door are eviction notices.

I don't want to sound like I'm on the new Warren Buffet cartoon for kids, but it's true that it often makes financial sense to be fearful when others are greedy -- but greedy when others are fearful. (The other standard thing to note here is J.F.K.'s observation about the Chinese character for "crisis" contains the character for "opportunity" or something.)

The remaining shell of Blue Heeler Imports, a store that specialized in Australian imports. Nothing at all against Australia or its products, but this always seemed like a tough business proposition.

These spaces are currently available in Eagle Rock. These are empty spaces that will be filled with new ideas and new ventures. Perhaps someone reading this site right now has been nursing a fantastic idea for a small business in Eagle Rock. Now is the time.

Empty storefront on Colorado near Caspar.

But there I go again. Despite my opening attempts at getting back to objectivity, I've returned to my boosterism. I can't help it. Despite all of these depressing images, I do feel that better days are ahead.

Empty storefront in the Colorado Plaza mini-mall. I don't remember what the last business was in this space. I think a couple things have opened and closed in this space in the past few years.

The fire that consumes the forest often helps give rise to new growth.

Space for lease near Colorado Wine Company.

Former site of 808 Video, in the Colorado Plaza mini-mall. Most video stores' days are probably numbered.

Dead office building at Colorado and Hartwick.

The muffler place has not shut down (I thought it had, with the fence and the way it looked). It just looks like it's shut down.

Even the foundational, no-nonsense businesses in the neighborhood, like this tire place on Colorado and Glen Iris, have suffered.

This space used to house a music store. I remember walking in when I first moved to the neighborhood, asking if they had any tenor saxophones for sale. They didn't at the time, but asked if I wanted to order one. I thought about picking up a banjo there instead.

The former site of SW Hill Country, a store devoted to Western wear. This place was symptomatic of boom thinking, in my view. Only in an economy where people had more frothy disposable income from "endlessly" rising real estate and stock prices than they knew what to do with would a place like this even think it had a chance to survive.

Has this black-and-white building on Colorado next to 50/50 Grind ever been anything? It looks like it's abandoned.

I think someone tried to open up a bodega in this small little space on Colorado last year or the year before. It apparently didn't work out. This space looks like it would work as a taquería , maybe.

The scuba shop in Eagle Rock did not survive.

Store-sign palimpsest above Elvira's (very much still in business).

The Machu Picchu of the Bubble Times in Eagle Rock: the failed and abandoned condo development project near the entrance to the 134 -- a lasting monument to the boom mindset. As an aside, it's interesting how the gentle curve drawn by the the tall pillars holding up the hill suggests the sine curve of economic cycles.


gilliebean said...

Man. If I had money and time, I'd want to put *something* in that Western Wear space. It's just a cool space!! Maybe a BBQ joint? Another cafe? I have no idea. I just like it and want it to thrive as something but in it's current configuration.

Anonymous said...


It is great that you are doing all this. Here's a few background facts.

The spaces for lease near Colorado Wine Co. were gonna be a terrific small boutique grocer and french sandwich place, but the building needed more work than the folks could afford.

American Tire only went out because the landlord raised the rent 3X the previous rate.

The former Dr. Music space is fully occupied by Renaissance Arts Academy.

The space next to 50/50 Grind is part of Alma Lodge.

The Scuba Shop closed because the owner had a personal problem that had nothing to do with the store.

Enjoying your reviews,

Octopus Grigori said...

gilliebean: The former SW Hill site is a great space. That space could work as a lot of things. A BBQ joint sounds great.

Anon: Thanks so much for the info! I have no idea what the Alma Lodge is. What is it? You seem pretty plugged in to neighborhood developments. Are you a long-time resident?

zeuqram said...

You may want to consider updating your post to include the Anonymous reader's comments. They feel pretty genuine to me.

Anyway, I logged on to say: why was there a scuba shop in Eagle Rock? No, really?

I am always amazed not that businesses close but that so many stay open when they appear to serve no apparent purpose – or clientele.

You're quick to point to the abandoned project on Colorado as a sign of the boom times but couldn't the same be said of many other businesses that were able to hang on only because credit was *seemingly* cheap? If we were in San Francisco, near Folsom, I'd understand the why for Western Wear but between Pasadena and Glendale, not so much.

As long as nothing really bad happens – like someone discovering Radon poisoning, etc. – I think the shift in Eagle Rock that your mortgage and my mortgage represent is going to greatly determine what new businesses come into the neighborhood.

Maybe we should start a list of the businesses we WISH were nearby?

Anonymous said...

Hi again,

Yeah, been here a while, but not as long as many of my neighbors.

Alma Lodge is a half-way place for mentally challenged individuals. The owners of the property really wanted to tear down the block and build a multi-level multi-use thing like is happening all over Pasadena. Lack of funding got in their way, so the fact they had kicked out the tenants of the little shop next to Taco Bell, and hadn't done any upkeep at Alma Lodge is now a bigger problem.


Anonymous said...

the gourmet sandwich co. that was supposed to go next to colorado wine co. was actually supposed to be another wine store that also sold cheese and sandwiches. so, would have been pizza and wine row...not what we need.

michelle said...

My name is Michelle and I am opening a cafe (four) next to Camillo's in the Coldwell Banker space. I read your blog and thought you might like to know! We are doing soups, salads,and sandwiches focusing on local seasonal food. We will support the local farmers market for all of our produce.

Anonymous said...

hey ho
hey ho
Alma Lodge has GOT TO GO!!!

big kiss


Anonymous said...

Why no hotel bars in Eagle Rock? Restore Alma Lodge AND the bar!