The growth is probably a combination of people coming out for ice cream and seeing for the first time that the storefront's no longer there, then looking us up online, and maybe also new people moving to Deering Center, wondering what the empty storefront once was, and checking it out, among other interests.
Whatever the case, now that we're entering the season when the storefront really would have been abuzz with fully ripened, late-spring energy right on the verge of summer, now is as good a time as any to share a very interesting news story and some timely reflections.
Independent Maine monthly The Bollard recently reorganized as a solidarity cooperative and renamed itself Mainer, and the cover story of their first issue is called "Portland's War on Fun." We thank them for taking on this abstract and, probably for many, somewhat nebulous topic in such an incisive and detailed way.
At Jet, we always saw our storefront in Deering Center as part of Portland's "fun engine," and as part of our effort to help it to reach its full potential, we always tried to keep a finger on the pulse of the city in terms of how people were feeling and how they wanted to relax and be entertained. It was literally our business to do this, we followed it as closely as possible, and we loved it.
When it came time for us to decide last year whether or not to keep the storefront open, a factor we felt strongly about but which was very hard to communicate to people who hadn't been on the inside of it was that the city's vibe seemed really different to us by 2016-2017 or so and increasingly from then on -- at times sharply. All of the subtle and some not-so-subtle shifts seemed to add up to the conclusion that the Jet storefront had arisen out of a different collective mood and attitude, a different Deering Center, a different Portland -- and one that was vanishing, much of whose former population went on to live in Westbrook, Falmouth, Gorham, and elsewhere. It was happening, but there wasn't one particular, concrete thing you could point at to explain it in full.
Without further ado, here's the article by Chris Busby, which includes references and analysis all the way back to the 1970s. It really struck some chords with us about trying to make a living by facilitating fun, sociability, and community in this particular city in recent years.