Three neighboring stores near the Atlanta Streetcar’s Auburn at Piedmont stop – a tea company, a Jewish gift shop, and handmade accessories boutique – have recently either relocated or closed their doors, leading some to worry that the streetcar's economic promises are more frail than expected.
A quick look at the Facebook pages of Just Add Honey, ModernTribe, and the Byrd’s Box confirms all three businesses were gone from (or in the process of leaving) 171 Auburn Ave. Having started as pop-up shops in 2014 through Central Atlanta Progress grants, the three stores announced later that year they’d be staying on longterm, suggesting the pop-up program had been effective.
ModernTribe's facebook page announced a moving sale this week (but it wasn't clear where they are relocating). The Byrd's Box page announced by the end of the month the business will be going digital. And, Just Add Honey moved last month to Sweet Auburn Curb Market at 209 Edgewood Ave.
The initial segment of Atlanta Streetcar opened in December 2014, reviving an old form of public transportation for the city. The $98-million system debuted with free rides for the first year along a 2.7-mile loop around downtown. Now, fare costs $1, and – according to the AJC – the city of Atlanta and MARTA came under fire in 2015 from Georgia DOT for safety measures, security breaches, and high staff turnover. Mayor Kasim Reed has called the issues a matter of "growing pains."
The closings come as some observers note that the streetcar-induced surge in businesses that officials have promised (and touted) has yet to fully materialize in places like Auburn Avenue. In the wake of all three former pop-ups closing, a Curbed tipster wondered aloud: "Why would anyone take a streetcar to an area that has so much blighted space?"
It's unclear if these three businesses also experienced growing pains, or if some larger issues were at play. But the gaps left in their wake could certainly make this stop less appealing to streetcar riders.