Business Community Featured

Reader Poll: What Type of Business Do We Need in the North End / Waterfront?

There are a few vacant storefronts in the neighborhood including most of Cross Street plaza and, prior to the building being condemned, the former 7-Eleven on the corner of Hanover and Commercial Streets. This is leading folks to discuss what different types of businesses could fill these spaces in the North End and Waterfront.

What do you think could add a much needed resource or service to the neighborhood? Vote in our poll and add your comments in the section below!

Web polls are unscientific and reflect only those who choose to participate. polls do not have any official significance and are only intended for the interest of our readers.

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40 Replies to “Reader Poll: What Type of Business Do We Need in the North End / Waterfront?

    1. They should upgrade that horrible 7/11 on Hanover Street back to a quality convenience store like the old White Hen was!

  1. I miss the hardware store/home center; it served many purposes and had a neighborhood feel. I wish the North End had something similar, even if it was a national chain, as long as it felt “neighborhood” like the old True Value on Salem Street did.

  2. We definitely need a hardware store. The Fleet Street hardware unfortunately keeps irregular hours and the nearest reliable hardware store is Charles Street Supply close to the Public Garden. A neighborhood is not complete without one, especially a neighborhood in which 50% of residents live without a car and cannot drive to a suburban Home Depot. Please somebody, open one and soon!

    1. Would be nice if the hardware store on Fleet st actually was a real store that stayed open in the evenings and on the weekends. They could make a killing. Guess it doesn’t matter to them.

  3. A new hardware store would make my life a lot easier! Instead of having to trek over to Beacon Hill or beyond, I could pop in for all the things–small, big, random, or otherwise–that we all need.

  4. Wow,, all the things the old north end had isn’t here any more,, so many shops,, stores,, all for families,, Sam resnicks ,, always had the basic hardware stuff but also sold housewares and small electric appliances,, sheldons. Clothing store from infant to adult ,, clothes underwares,,
    Anna lightman,, pretty night gowns and women’s foundations,,getting your feet sized at jacks shoe store,,, and vareses,, and Dave’s for curtains ,, sheets and bedspreads
    Castinettis for the swagger in men,,never mind the mom and pop stores and butchers,,and produce stores,, it’s so sad how you walk down Salem st and none of the stores are there just restaraunts,,I hope some decent stores that the neighborhood can use gets there ,,

  5. Hardware store….we are in great need. Ken could have, should have, would have, been cool to leave one of his 3 spaces for one.

    1. Heather
      Ken had Ace hardware interested in the entire space until they learned about the parking situation for their deliveries and decided against it. Whatever Ken decided to do with HIS property is not the business of you or anyone else. He made a decision to retire after his father passed and did what was best for himself and his wife and for the changing neighborhood. Give it a rest
      There are other spaces available in the neighborhood. Maybe you should lease one of them and open a hardware store.

  6. A True Value HARDWARE store, like the one on Salem Street. Three hardware stores in the Boston area (Cambridge Street, Union Street, Salem Street, and Kneeland Street) have all closed in past years. The True Value on Salem Street was a real gem. It certainly was a go-to for all-around living in this area. CVS tries, but does not come close. A hardware store is definitely needed and would be a most welcome additiion.

  7. How about a hybrid hardware store with most common SKUs that doubles as a place to pick up packages from Amazon, so valuable Amazon goods are are safe from theft? Or better yet, have a section of the store to assemble deliveries from Wayfair or IKEA.

    That Salem St hardware store was amazing. Rarely did they not have what I needed. That said, there are some great new tenents in that strip where the hardware store was.

    The old Living Room location would be a good spot as well.

    Separately, is that building still condemned? #wowzers

    One thing I am certain about: we can never lose the last butcher shop, Sulmona.

  8. I don’t know how true this story is, but I was told the Hardware Store in Charlestown was suppose to take over
    the True Value Space, but it was broken up into 3 spaces instead of 1, which obviously brought in more money.
    A hardware store would be ideal, but let’s face it, the rents in the No. End are outrageous.

    1. I agree! If the zoning in parts of the North End was updated to allow for shops like hardware stores where shops are currently illegal (such as most of North Street), some property owners would likely convert their ground floors back into retail spaces which might help lower the rents of commercial space in the neighborhood because of greater competition. This change would also provide entrepreneurs with more options for locating their businesses in the neighborhood.

      For example, a hardware store doesn’t need to be on the busiest street because it functions as an important destination whereas a tourist gift shop is unnecessary and appeals mostly to passersby so it fares better on busy streets.

      The issue now that zoning has made ground-floor retail illegal in most of the neighborhood except Hanover and Salem Streets is that the only retail spaces available are on the two most highly trafficked streets where commercial rents are guaranteed to be higher because of increased visibility to potential customers.

    2. According to a conversation with Ken , that Ace Hardware store decided not to take the space on Salem St because there was not a loading dock and they did not want to deal with getting deliveries on Salem St. It was after that fell apart that Ken decided to brake it up into three spaces. I don’t know why anyone thinks they have a right to complain that the owner of a business decided to retire and do what was right for himself and his family. Would you let someone tell you who or what you can do with your property? I doubt it. Ken could have sold the building to someone who wanted to put up a six story building with another restaurant in the ground floor space. Maybe that would have been better for the people who keep harping on something that is none of their business.

      1. Joyce. I know the Ace Hardware people well and the son would not save his pride by lying to me. They tried to get Ken down on rent and he would not budge. They gave up. It had nothing to do with deliveries. Why would they need a loading dock if Ken did not?

    1. Walk a few minutes to the public market to mother juice or even to Sweetgreen on state street. It is not far

  9. The Ace Hardware store in Charlestown is top-notch. The owner’s son told me that they wanted to buy True Value .
    Ken charged an exorbitant amount for it, so Ace passed.

    1. Ken did what any rational real estate owner did: he repurposed the property to produce as much income for him that the market would bare. He worked his a%^ off for decades and frankly I am happy for him.

      Anyone criticizing this move should feel free to relocate to socialist Venezuela and see how they fare.

      1. It would be nice to have a hardware store in the neighborhood. But Heather I suspect that people will “survive” if there isn’t one.

  10. I normally don’t comment on these threads but had to put my foot down this morning. The fact that my dear friend Ken was dragged through the mud is disappointing. He put his blood, sweat, and tears into this neighborhood for decades and now is having stones cast at him for doing what was best for himself and his family. As Carl has said, the complain train is headed north!!

    Lastly, I also miss Hooters. Great times in that place and would be a decent fit in this space. Anyone remember Stacy, the ole tend? Great gal!

  11. Old 7/11 by the Coast guard really should be a simple grocery store….and Green Cross would make a great hardware / amazon pick up. We have needed a grocery store for years and a hardware store is a neighborhood essential.

    1. DD – I have good news for you. The largest grocery store in the city will be part of the new development at North Station. Enjoy!

  12. Do you think any of the above people or any No. End Responsible People could get together & make a small
    investment to try & open a Hardware Store? If we can get 10 or more people to make a small investment, I
    think it would be a great idea. It would all have to be drawn up legally, get some advice from Kenny, etc & others
    that could make an investment. It would be great if we could get Plumbers, Electtricians, Contractors, Housewives
    to get involved in this project & go from there. This is just a thought. I would take a shot, if we could get enough
    people to make the investment. I am sure many great businesses started off like this. Why not?

  13. Joan of Arc – I think it’s a real opportunity for someone looking to start a new business. Hopefully someone will consider it. It is unfortunate the Fleet St store isn’t v active – that could meet a lot of the demand, provided it was open on a regular basis and stocked appropriately.

  14. OK all you Heather haters, you are right that Ken was a great neighbor for many years and absolutely has the right to do whatever he wants with his building(s). The poll shows that most residents miss True Value and would have loved to see a hardware store move into one of the spaces vacated by Ken. The reality is that Ken knows how thin margins are for hardware stores, and how tough it is to run a successful business at that location even without the crushing overhead of a steep rent. Ken took his time fielding numerous proposals before finally selecting the 3 current businesses he felt had the best chances for success. Could Ken have charged market rents for 2 of the spaces and subsidized the 3rd for a more neighborhood friendly tenant like a hardware store? Maybe, maybe not, but I think Ken was in the best position to make that call. The one legitimate point that I think Heather was trying to make is that landlords need to be held more accountable for the type of businesses that they bring into the North End rather than chasing after the highest possible rents. I don’t think a smoke shop or another nail salon would have received many votes in a neighborhood poll.

    1. I would be willing to bet anything that you and heather do not own business or retail property. Why would anyone not get the highest possible rent? When you go to work do you want the highest possible pay? What would you say if your work called you in and said hey we’re gonna take half your check away because it would benefit the company? I bet you wouldn’t be too happy. If True Value was a thriving business I am sure it would still be there and Ken would not have closed. Your suggestions that he lowers the rent and brings in a business that may or may not be profitable just makes no sense. When the business closes and Ken loses their rent check every month are you and heather going to give him the money?

      1. I think it was a thriving business but he had just had enough…good for him. Too bad we all can’t decide when to retire. He is within his right to charge as much as he sees fit and what the market bears.
        But…not everyone thinks like that who owns property. Some will charge less if the tenant is more stable and less likely to leave. Getting 80% of market value with a stable tenant who pays their bills on time and is clean, etc, etc is sometimes better than getting 100% of market value and having constant turnover. You have to think long term.
        He’s a very good businessman…I’m sure he did what was right for him at the time. He really owes the neighborhood nothing.

  15. Dan – Given the way you phrased the comment above, I am assuming you are not a business owner. Although thoughtful in the way you presented your argument, without slandering a man who served the neighborhood for decades and was a friend to many, I think you’ve missed the mark a bit. If any of us were in Ken’s, or any other landlord’s shoes for that matter, we’d be lying if we said we’d consider turning down businesses willing to pay the highest price for those that were not. I believe it’s foolish to act like you, me, or anyone would consider losing margin for the sake of appeasing others. Let’s get real!

  16. Dan G: Yes, you do ‘get’ what I was trying to convey. Reassuring to hear from such a one as you.

  17. I miss the Salem St Hardware. It was nice well kept store with an inventory that catered to this neighborhood. But your point about profitabilty is a good one. Small neighborhood hardware stores are disappearing one-by-one as the large box stores with their national buying power grow. Hardware used to be good business, but even belonging to buying club like TrueValue doesn’t provide member owners enough premium to price compete with the bulk stores. The owners are in good company in their decision. Many other small owners have had to make the same difficult decision.

  18. Market forces drive rents for all property in the North End. It is desirable place to live and have a business. It you watch the monthly real estate sales in this site, you will notice that the neighborhood is becoming more affluent. As real estate becomes more expensive, the rents will follow. Lets face it. It’s a choice between expensive boutique businesses or something that can turnover inventory quickly. Long shell life items in the North End are accretive.

  19. Sal: Cross Street is a desolate place AND it is the gateway to the North End ! It is an example of very high rents, which prevents tenants — and which leaves the ‘hood’ looking quite shabby. Imagine tourists approaching and seeing this, nevermind when we walk past it and wonder why it has degenerated to the sparse store fronts. Who knows? Perhaps Starbucks could have paid rent? It is clean and upbeat. Better that than ghost town impressions.

    1. This may be a dumb question, but is there a scenario where the owners of the Cross St units are looking to NOT rent them out?

      In other words, could there be other plans in the works that involve development?

      I ask because to me they clearly need to lower the rents. It makes little sense to me how those places are not being rented in this kind of economy with that location.

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