When was the last time downtown citizens anticipated an opening more than the opening of Urban Outfitters? Tupelo Honey certainly caused quite a stir. Suttree’s made a big splash. But this has been years in the coming and the saga has been replete with all the drama – now they are, now they aren’t, now nobody knows – of a volatile courtship. It appears we finally have a wedding date: tomorrow, Thursday, May 2.
I’m not sure what it means. I’ve never been inside an Urban Outfitters and I doubt I fit their demographic. People spending money downtown is a good thing, but the profits from this chain will largely go elsewhere. People will have jobs and the building is filled. We’re told it will be a destination point for certain groups. It’s the biggest clothing store downtown and we need more choices for clothing. I worry that they may hurt our other, small, clothing retailers. Sounds like I’m conflicted. I’ll check it out and write about it, soon.
It will also be interesting to see how they fit the local culture. The merchandise and attitude are definitely edgy. A handwritten sign on the door a couple of days ago encouraged people passing by to “take pictures of shit you are into” and tweet them or something. I may have the quote a bit off, but the startling word for a business is accurate. How will our most devout fundamentalists take to this? On the other hand, while they are edgy, the owner heavily funds ultra-conservative causes, so how will our liberal friends respond? Of course, there is the local/scruffy vs. chain/gentrified tension. Should be interesting.
With the end of the Dogwood Arts Festival activities, other events and urban institutions are beginning or returning. It’s likely that many actual downtown residents are more pumped about the return of the Market Square Farmer’s Market than the opening of Urban Outfitters. In its tenth annual rendition, the Farmer’s Market is a primary source of food for most of us for six months of the year. Of course, many vegetables won’t be in for a while, but we’ll get started today with the Wednesday market and this Saturday will find most downtown residents and hundreds or more of our suburban friends vying for the goods at the first Saturday market of the year.
One note of warning to parents: There will also likely be a group of Anti-Abortion activists on Market Square in the afternoon on Saturday showing graphic photographs of aborted fetuses. I’m guessing they will be there to protest a Planned Parenthood event called “Framing Choices,” in which high school students to examine the impact of all-manner of choices we make and the impact they have on our lives and translate that into art. It’s a great event, but since the anti-abortion crowd hates Planned Parenthood, I expect them to be there. I would not want my child to see their photographs, but I hope adults will come out to support the students and the Planned Parenthood event, which is nothing but positive.
A new concert series will also debut this week on Market Square. It’s a novel idea: a free concert on the Market Square Stage every Thursday night. Why didn’t we think of that before? This version will be called, imaginatively enough, “Concerts on the Square,” and they will run each Thursday night from 7:00 – 9:00. This week Robinella will kick it off, while next week features the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. The concert series will continue through the month of June.
Thursday night you could also choose to attend BBQ and Beer at Central Flats and Taps for fresh smoked meat and Saw Works Beer. Tim Lee is playing the Pilot Light. An ambitious, organized and energetic person could get BBQ and beer, listen to Robinella on the Square and then go to Pilot House for the Tim Lee 3 show. I’m just saying it’s possible.
Of course, Friday is First Friday and the weather looks to be better, though potentially a bit wet, so that’s an improvement over the monsoons of last weekend. Na Zdrowie will obviously be celebrated that night on Market Square. Loosely translated as “cheers” in Polish, this event will celebrate Poland’s Constitution Day with beer, vodka and, of course, Polish food. Guy Marshall, Kelsey’s Woods and The New Familiars will play Relix that night and Danny Gammon and friends will host Music Therapy at the Time Warp Tea Room.
Oh yeah, there’s also a rally supporting Immigration Reform at 5:00 today in Krutch Park, so if you want to get your activist on, here’s your chance.