Kingswood Market closing doors

After 70 years in business on Farmington Avenue, the Kingswood Market is closing down, according to a story in today’s Hartford Courant. The owner can’t afford the rent hike sought by his landlord.

While the market is only vaguely familiar to me — I’ve run in a few times over the years — this strikes me as yet another indication that West Hartford’s economic success could wind up turning the town into another oasis of upscale chain stores and high-priced eateries, devoid of any particular local flavor. It’s a problem most communities would be only too happy to face, but it’s nonetheless troubling.

What, after all, make West Hartford different than other well-off little cities? We’re sort of like a college town, with better housing and no tailgating. We have the shops, the restaurants, even the bookstores (a rarity in America today). But if someone a decade from now looks around arrives from another state and looks around, will they see anything at all that couldn’t be in Ithaca, Madison, Northampton, Charlottesville or Iowa City? I’m not sure.

As rents rise, it becomes ever harder for strictly local businesses to make a go of it. The overhead gets so high that it becomes risky to sign a lease. The long-term prospects for our familiar bookstores, hardware store, sports shops and more are increasingly shaky despite a stunning prosperity everywhere you look.

So I’m sad to see the market shut down. It hurts its neighborhood, of course, but it’s also perhaps the canary in the coal mine.

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7 Comments

Filed under Kingswood Market, West Hartford Center, West Hartford economy

7 responses to “Kingswood Market closing doors

  1. Living in West Hartford for almost 12 years, this is moment of great disappointment since Kingswood gave the town a sense of being a true community.

    My family would patron Kingswood on a weekly basis for it’s fresh vegetables, great meat selections (loved the marinated NY strips!) and personalized service. Going to Kingswood was not a “task to check off your list” but a destination. I loved making small talk with customers, chatting with David Borstein and even hearing the squeaky wooden floors. Kingswood was also an important part of the senior population with their free delivery and taking phone orders for those who had trouble getting to the market.

    Make no mistake about it, West Hartford is a good town for residents and business owners, but with continued commercial appeal (which is a good thing!) and the increase in property taxes, the life of some family runned businesses in town (ie:War & Pieces) is eroding due to pure economics.

    I truly believe some change for our town has been progressive, but there needs to be an appropriate balance for residents and business owners to exist in West Hartford.

    Your Neighbor

    Steve

  2. Gary Reger

    This news is indeed sad. Kingswood is within walking distance of our house; I go there to buy groceries, but also for the excuse to put work aside for a while and be outdoors.

    Did the article say how much the rent hike is? And what, one wonders, will replace it? And how about the other small businesses (liquor store, barber shop, account, therapist) in that building?

  3. Saygoodnighttohollywood

    I remember when I was kid at Morley School and I would walk down and buy candy at the Kingswood. Probably when I should have been at recess. Nowadays they probably would call out the entire WHPD if a kid left to pick up a Snickers bar. Also good to stop by after school or on Wednesdays before going to Saint Thomas for Catechism. Oh well, just one more landmark of my childhood torn asunder. No biggie.

    I imagine at some point, when I am very old, there will be just a strip of grass in the middle of north main street with a sign that identifies it as the last part of west hartford center. It will sit there forlornly as the hovercrafts zip by, bathed in the shadow of the looming towers on both sides, and lit only by the unearthly glare of twenty story HiDef billboards.

    “The Pillar and the Met are gone
    The Royal long since pulled down
    and the great unyielding concrete
    makes a city of my town”

    Good times. Enjoy the property taxes and Blue Back Square, kids. It’s the best of all possible worlds, is it not?

  4. Ed

    check out WFSB news story on you tube

  5. Phil K

    I’ve always been unimpressed by Kingswood. It’s kind of like Hall’s 15 years ago; Halls adapted to the changes in the market, Kingswood did not. It’s way more fun to shop at Delicacy and the other ethnic stores down the street. It’s not rent that is forcing them out of business, it’s a failure to compete.

    I wish David well in whatever he does next.

  6. Mary

    I predicted this unfortunate closing. Being a lifelong resident for nearly 36 years, I too had memories of wandering in, picking up some candy as a kid; jams and jelly spreads as an adult. However, in recent years I noticed a decline in the all around presence of the store, including the upkeep. They had lost their right to sell cigarettes (a huge profit loss; regardless of the increasing number of non-smokers) This was the result due to the fact that they had been caught selling cigarettes to minors. (A fact told to me by a reliable source) Just not good, but I suppose it could happen to anyone, yes? The owner seemed sad and distracted the last time I visited and I knew something was wrong. This was a year ago. Perhaps he too had predicted this demise…..
    I find the “upscale” remodeling, rebuilding and refurnishing of Whtfd center to be pompus and an over achieving act, some attempt at attracting what, and whom?

  7. Ed

    mary,

    you’re completely wrong on the cigs. Dave the owner, decided to stop selling them along with beer for his own reasons. He was not forced to stop selling them.

    puuuhlease!

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