Remember 2008? Wall Street traded corporations lost 40% of their value in a matter of days. The economy tanked and the housing bubble burst. Prices declined for hotels and flights, and shoe repair shops were flourishing. Only bars and movie theaters seemed immune.
But besides shoe repair, another sector of the economy was also much more immune and resilient than the sectors: authentic, historic streets. While suburban shopping centers and strip malls became vacant, long-term local retailers hung in there. Their well-established, local customer base didn’t abandon them. This was evident when Utah Stories moved to Broadway (300 South) in Salt Lake City in 2008.
Broadway has long been a bastion of local businesses supported by a loyal customer base. It has maintained its local identity and authentic economy since before the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, back when Utah had its own stock exchange on Exchange Place (located on Broadway just north of the Green Pig).
The businesses on Broadway weathered the Great Depression as well as the “white flight” movement to the suburbs throughout the seventies and early eighties, but they fared far worse when city planners became involved. City planners’ grand visions of Main Street malls—with sidewalks beautified and widened with tax revenue from the very businesses they would eventually destroy—brought ruin to most of the businesses on Main Street.
But now the street that has been immune from the booms and busts of the past will become a casualty of the new economic and housing boom our city is now realizing.
Ivory Homes has purchased the buildings that are now home to Ken Sanders, Green Ant, Sanas, and Salt Lake Rug Company. A developer has bought the “yellow buildings” formerly owned by Otto Milletti, which has been home to Public Coffee, Vive Juicery, Fellow Shop, Now and Again, and the Tavernacle. Within the next five years it is highly likely all of these tenants will be vacated, and this entire section of one of the last remaining authentic economies in downtown will be razed for new development.
The character of Broadway, like the character that Sugar House once had will be examined in “remember when” anthologies. We thought rather than wait twenty years to remember how cool Broadway was, we can remember it now.
Utah Stories has been on Broadway for the past eight years. While our main headquarters is now in Holladay, we are grateful for all of the support we have received from the community on this street that shows how great an enclave (free from Wall Street) can be.
By the way, what ever happened to the Utah Stock exchange? Write us and we will publish your informed response.