I love traveling. When visiting a city for the first time, many folks go to
museums, engage in a hike, maybe look at monuments of dead heroes. I'm down
with that stuff too. But alas I have other fish to fry.
One of my favorite brain games while traveling is pondering what kind of
businesses the places I visit could use. This sure doesn't come from an
ethnocentric place at all- I don't pretend to understand a town and its
people from being there for a few days or weeks. Yet, it's sort of
inevitable whenever I go somewhere I think about how it would be to live
there (or I am simply a daydreaming opportunist, always looking for that
perfect business idea). And I like to keep my mind firing and thinking -
living in NY all those years I didn't have too many thoughts of things
needed in the city (besides some peace and quiet) since everything was
simply there. There's really no other place like NY where its all there for
you- and if you think you have an idea, somebody else, or maybe ten other
people,have already scooped you. In many ways, NY is a consumptionista's
dream and an entrepreneur's conundrum.
Recently I spent a few in Boulder, Colorado, and I must say- that town has
an indie spirit and charm I gravitate toward, much like places like
Louisville, hometown of my beloved. There's lots of small restaurants and
boutiques that are really really good. It's shocking a place like Boulder
has a store like Max, which sells Marni frocks and Rick Owens deconstructed
sexiness. Very interesting to me- perhaps Boulder is more cosmo than many
give it credit for. I am still left wondering who is rocking head to toe
Marni to climb mountains, but hats off to the sisters that do. I suppose the
mountain air had my head spinning with thoughts of retail and restos. If it
were up to me, here's some of the stuff I'd love to start in Boulder:
A cool general store like those popping up in Long Island and Brooklyn.
Think general store 2.0- a community gathering spot yes- but also a place to
buy great candles, special locally made olive oils, as well as anything you
may need for small town living. Rustic chic if you will (I would).
A candy store like Miette Confiserie (see pics) in SF. Hipster girls in pink
uniforms. Grown up candy from around the world. Who doesn't love global
A bespoke leather sandal and handbag store like Jutta Neumann in NYC.
Something about handcrafted items and artisanship feels right in that town.
A weekend flea market a la Rose Bowl or Chelsea Flea...if I lived in Boulder
I would decorate with a lot of found goods as opposed to all new stuff. It's
an eccentric town after all- why not embrace some vintage?
A breakfast burrito truck. Organic. Awesome. Boulder is a morning town so
think this would be great. Emphasis on health of course.
A pie store. All pies. Homemade. Organic crusts and stuff. Very sweet and
homey. Maybe have knitting classes there. Knitting and pie.
A bagel store. Just bagels and inventive spreads and sandwiches named for
local luminaries or landmarks. Only open till 1 pm. Later on the weekends-
would also have kick ass magazines from around the world to purchase and
peruse- think international newstand and bagels. Mags and carbs are a great
A cool jeans store like Ron Herman, or Jean Shop in NYC. Just great jeans
and tees, with an emphasis on made in the USA and organic denim.
A spot like Halcyon in Brooklyn or Base in Miami that sells cool vinyl,
books,coffee, and has a DJ. Maybe a barber chair for a rotating haircutter.
A kick back bar for the summer with hammocks and reggae and jerk of all
types. Bring a little island love to the place. It's laid back enough for
A place that specializes in the Brazilian. Full stop.
A loungey bar that maybe shows movies (campy ones) as well as host improv
nights, etc. Still would be a cool lounge with great DJs, etc.
A young designers showroom- maybe clothes from around the world or west
coast emerging talent. Or a showroom for people making cool stuff on the
left coast in general.
A silkscreened tee shirt shop. Go in and pick your design and get 'er done.
And first and foremost (or last and foremost), a Jewish deli with the best
pastrami and matzoh ball soup the mountain set have ever tasted. Comfort
food feels right, and its a bit rebellious to serve this fare in such a
Yes I know this is not noble, top shelf, elevated thinking. And I'm not
pretending to save the world or shift culture with these ideas. I'm just a
girl who likes to shop, eat, and hang out. And I love cool little
establishments that feel like real local spots- that's what gives a town its
currency. That and some mountains- or maybe some ocean if that's more your
thing. As for big city living- those of you in NY know why you're there, and
I know why you're there too. Since I don't live there anymore, I tend to go
to other towns and fantasize about my own brand of city planning and how to
contribute to the local DNA so that when people like vous visit, you enjoy
yourselves. I know I feel much better when I find those special unique
places. City planners- are you listening? I'm offering a little retail
whispering. Don't get me started on Detroit. XO