The suburban general store

Would our friends in Aboite or north of Dupont welcome such an idea as a general store in the neighborhood?

(W)hat if every suburban subdivision had the equivalent of a local bodega? That’s the idea behind the Suburban General Store, which would provide a central place for residents to pick up sundry items as well as recycle their bottles, drop off DVDs, and buy stamps—all within a five-minute walk.

“We began thinking about subdivisions much less as vast areas of suburbia but as towns,” says Frank Ruchala, a 31-year-old urban planner and architect. “Then we wondered whether a general store could work just as well in that context as it did in small villages a hundred years ago.”

… Under their scheme, everyday amenities would be shoehorned into an existing building such as a pool house, and an added porch would create space for socializing.

Of course, the big problem with such stores is that they’re usually illegal, thanks to zoning regulations.

But if you live in the suburbs, would a small retail establishment be handy? Would you use it? Or would you oppose it?

Photo from Allen County Photo Album

4 Comments

  1. I live in the East State Village (around the Tecumseh Library), and we used our local market last night–we walked down to Pio’s to pick up ingredients for dinner. We love having a small family-owned market within walking distance, and although it is mainly a meat market, we still use it whenever we can. We will be sad if this business ever goes away.

    I realize that we live in a village/neighborhood, but I don’t see why anyone would oppose a business like this in a suburban area.

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  2. I LOVE this idea! It would encourage people to exercise more, get to know their neighbors, burn less gas and waste less time driving all over town for trivial tasks, not to mention supporting your local economy vs. national chains.

    It would be sort of like a small college campus…you’ve got your bookstore, coffee shop and post office all within walking distance, and you run into people you know while you’re running your errands.

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  3. I’m not sure why those of us in Aboite (like me) or north of Dupont (like my daughter) get called on out this — as if this idea would be so beyond the pale for us. But then I’m a little touchy about being typecast just because I have a 46804 address.

    Serendipitously, though, my husband and I had this conversation just last week. After a quick errand to the shopping center at Scott Road & SR14, he joked that ‘I wish we had a Dollar General in our neighborhood.

    I can’t say I want a Dollar General at the end of my cu-de-sac, but I am intrigued by suburbs that are designed more with walking in mind. I can walk to Scott’s on Scott Road, but it’s a haul to get stuff home in a backpack. The trails make it easier, for sure — at least until we cross SR14, at which point we are on our own.

    But a well-designed, smartly stocked, well-maintained general store? Yep. Smart idea.

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