The half-block of Commercial Drive running north from Napier used to be a bright busy space with Drive Organics, a hairdresser and a tattooist as I recall. Today, that entire half-block has been taken over by Choices grocery and they have turned it into a desert.
Part of the true joy of Commercial Drive is the narrow storefronts, each one different from the next, and each one contributing its share of colour and life and vibrancy to the street and the neighbourhood. Choices defies all those good aspects of urban life, with a very long store, with opaque windows (so even the activity inside is hidden), and a featureless exterior. There are no eyes on the street, there is no activity, there is no fun here, it is a bleak wilderness.
And it is so easy to deal with: it is a produce store, for goodness sakes, and so perfect for street-side carts and tables filled with colourful fruits and vegetables and anything else they want to sell, You just have to look at Normans or Triple A or Donald’s to see how it is done. It is not rocket science, but I get the feeling that Choices doesn’t really care: it is a business divorced from its community. That may be why I never shop there.