Recession Casualty . . . or Something Else?
I made the rare foray into downtown Minneapolis for some retail shopping the other day, and what I found reminded me of an old skit from The Chris Rock Show.
An African-American man is shown trying, unsuccessfully, to hail a cab. Naked. As each cab passes him by, he grows increasingly angry and indignant, railing that the cab drivers are blatant racists, that an African-American “can’t get a break,” etc. (yeah, you have to be an African-American comedian to safely traffic in this kind of humor — and this is one of Rock’s more politically correct skits).
Back to downtown Minneapolis.
I would be shocked if retail sales haven’t cratered. I don’t think I saw 20 shoppers in the 30 minutes or so I was walking around.
However, as tempting as it would be to blame the recession, there’s a much more obvious explanation: road construction and parking.
Virtually every downtown street within a 6 block radius of the IDS (the epicenter of downtown) is torn up and restricted to one, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y moving lane of traffic. Parking was nowhere to be found, and when I finally did find a spot, the meter informed me that an hour would require 16 quarters (or something like that).
I don’t think I carried around that much change when I used to use laundromats.
Somewhere in between waiting for interminable traffic lights to change and looking for a merchant who could make some change, it occurred to me that shopping in the ‘burbs was a whole lot more convenient.
Which is where I headed.