I love corner stores, and wish that Uptown had more of them. In an ideal world, or at least in my ideal world, no one would be so unfortunate as to live more than two blocks from a shop selling milk, bananas, twinkies, ice cream, and, if really lucky, made-to-order sandwiches. These sorts of stores are designed to serve the community, and sell the basic essentials for when you don't have the time or the inclination to run to the store. The owners usually cater to the specific needs and tastes of the neighborhood; in addition to the standard corner store staples, for example, our old store in Hollywood sold red fishnet stockings (presumably for the local hookers) and our DC store sold boxes of snails for those neighbors with more advanced food tastes than me.
One of my favorite Uptown-area corner stores is Louie's Food and Greek Deli, located at the corner of 35th and Dupont. There's been a store there for as long as I can remember. Back in the mid-1980s I remember going to the same location to buy popsicles and hubba bubba gum. Stepping down the steps and into the dim basement store it felt like we were entering a different world. It wasn't elegant or exotic, but it was sure convenient. Back then the store was more utilitarian; a place to buy the basics of life, but not a particularly attractive addition to the neighborhood. Oh, how things have changed. I can't remember when the changes started, but gradually the store started to get some facelifts. A new sign, a new awning, fancy landscaping. The inside seems cleaner and brighter, too. The corner store of the 2000s is an attractive place, ice box and all. Admittedly the Malboro sign above the air conditioning unit isn't particulary inspiring, but when I can buy milk and fresh deli items I don't complain too much.
Corner stores are an integral part of a successful urban neighborhood. They're vivid proof that the concept of mixed-use development isn't a modern idea. People have long mixed commercial and residental uses, and when done right it benefits everyone. I hope to see Uptown's small corner stores continue to thrive for years to come, and hope that they will continue to serve as reminders that vibrant urban neighborhoods need businesses like this to live up to their full potential.