Home » Retail » Recent Articles:

New Brewery Improves Alley-Like Lucas Ave

The two streets on either side of Washington Ave are basically named alleys: St. Charles St (south) and Lucas Ave (north). These may have had active businesses fronting onto them decades ago, but not so much anymore.

Alpha Brewing Co. on Lucas Ave between 14th-15th is making the back of a Washington Ave building lively.

Alpha Brewing Co doesn't look like much when closed.
Alpha Brewing Co doesn’t look like much when closed.
The doors roll up when they open, changing the feel the street
The doors roll up when they open, changing the feel the street
The patio and recessed glass wall are inviting
The patio and recessed glass wall are inviting
The patio space as seen from inside
The patio space as seen from inside

Kudos to Alpha Brewing Co for a well-designed space that makes a positive contribution to an otherwise dreary road. If you visit just ignore the trash dumpsters behind adjacent buildings.

— Steve Patterson


Poll: What Is Your Favorite Commercial Street In St. Louis City?

When I first moved to St. Louis in 1990 my first apartment was on Lindell at Euclid Ave. At the time Euclid Ave was the most urban street in St. Louis with shops (remember Heffalumps?) and restaurants. One of my first jobs was at an antique store east of Jefferson, not much positive was happening west of Jefferson except prostitution.   Not long after I made my first trip to Crown Candy — at night. The 14th Street Pedestrian Mall seemed totally dead.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday we have many thriving commercial streets, amazing progress is just two decades.  The poll this week asks you to pick your favorite of these, here are the choices I’ve provided:

  • N. 14th St. (Old North)
  • Cherokee St.
  • Delmar (Loop)
  • Euclid (CWE)
  • Grand (South Grand)
  • Locust St (Midtown Alley)
  • Manchester Rd Ave (The Grove)
  • Morgan Ford
  • Washington Ave

If you think of another you can vote for it in the poll using the other field. The poll is in the right sidebar (desktop layout).

— Steve Patterson


Downtown Fiat Display Closed

Last month the downtown display-only showroom for Lou Fusz Fiat closed.

The store was not a licensed dealership — a costly process that involves permission from the auto manufacturer, in this case Chrysler, and usually a sizable investment — but rather a display not unlike what you might find in a shopping mall. It also enlivened a storefront downtown that had sat empty for several years, so much so that the building’s owner let Fusz occupy the space rent-free. (stltoday)

Indeed the cars inside the corner space of 1015 Locust more interesting. Once again, it is empty.

ABOVE: Two of the five 500s on display in the showroom
ABOVE: Two of the five 500s on display in the showroom in April 2012
Note in window on June 27th
Note in window on June 27th

I wrote If It Sounds Too Good To Be True… in January 2012 when others were splitting hairs between “dealership” and “full-service dealership.” With a staff person and availability of test drives this was more than a simple display, though well short of a full dealership. The Missouri legislature must have thought it was too close to being a dealership and tightened up laws to clarify displays.

Of course, Lou Fusz could build an actual dealership. I could picture an urban dealership at Tucker & Cass, easily reached by downtown residents/workers and visible to the thousands that’ll come into downtown on the new I-70 bridge when it opens next year.

— Steve Patterson


New Bakery Visible To Pedestrians

It isn’t unusual for local restaurants to bake their own desserts, breads, buns, and rolls. What is unusual is to have the operation visible to pedestrians passing by on the public sidewalk!

One of two large windows looking into the Baileys' Restaurants baking operation
One of two large windows on 11th looking into the Baileys’ Restaurants baking operation
The other window on 11th Street
The other window on 11th Street
A sign indicates the reasons for the new bakery space.

If you can’t read the image above, here’s the gist:

  1. Moved bakery from Baileys’ Range to make room for more bathrooms.
  2. To make fresh-baked muffins & breakfast pastries to sell at Rooster.
  3. Plan to function as a small independent baker, selling baked goods (breads, pastries) at Rooster.

Baileys’ Restaurants family includes: Baileys’ Chocolate Bar, Rooster, Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar, Baileys’ Range, the Fifth Wheel at 4 Hands Brewery, and later this year Small Batch:

Bailey’s latest endeavor will be located in the Locust Street Automotive District (a.k.a. Automotive Row), a string of buildings along Locust Street (part of what’s now known as “Midtown Alley”), former home to more than a few early-20th century automotive dealerships.

Bailey’s restaurants all have different vibes and culinary leanings. His latest is no different—and may be his most ambitious.

Small Batch will hone in on “American whiskey and bourbons, both neat and blended with a library of house blended liqueurs, bitters, tonics, and tinctures,” according to Bailey, whose email noted that “beer will also play a prominent role.”

Playing an even more prominent role will be vegetables: look for a 100-percent vegetarian menu at Small Batch, a name that could be extrapolated to connote the increasing but still limited supply of local and heirloom produce that’s in high demand in local culinary circles. (St. Louis Magazine)

I’ve begun going down 11th just so I can get glimpses of the workers creating inside. Much more interesting than some storefront spaces that are now someone’s office.

— Steve Patterson


Metro Fails At Retailing

Retailing isn’t easy, successful brick & mortar retailers hire consultants, question focus groups,  and study market trends, to get customers through the door. Store design is an important part of the equation.  Many firms specialize in retail design.

I covered this topic last August after a seeing the transit agency store in Dallas (see Transit Visibility: Metro vs DART). Metro’s MetroRide store on Washington Avenue is pathetic.

Last August I showed this pic to help illustrate the problem. Which entrance is the transit store?
ABOVE: It's obvious now, right?
Obviously this one, right?

Each time I visit the MetroRide store to buy transit passes I realize it is the result of a quasi-government agency that has zero competition. Where is the hungry merchant trying to drum up sales to cover the rent payment? It’s like the exclusive restaurant

I took this similar pic a few days ago, it was impossible  to even tell if the lights were on.
I took this similar pic a few days ago, it was impossible to even tell if the lights were on.

Sure, those of us who seek it out don’t need a big neon sign or even a simple “open” sign in the window, but it might help get the attention of others walking by. Tourists might inquire about the downtown trolley and what else they can see without a car.

I’d like to see Metro make it obvious to anyone walking, or driving, past the MetroRide store to know it is a place to buy transit passes and pick up  schedules.  As a fan of gift shops, I’d also like to see St. Louis transit-related merchandise: t-shirts, postcards, magnets, calendars, etc. I still have a puzzle of the Philly transit map I bought on vacation in 2001, but I have almost nothing for St. Louis. I’d love a toy MetroBus.

Step up your retail game Metro!

— Steve Patterson