Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Belltown Challenge: Banks vs. Subways!

Hello and welcome to the very first edition of Belltown Challenge! Have you ever been walking around wonder whether Belltown has more karate studios than Jewish newspapers? Or whether there are more sushi restaurants than barber shops? Or more bars than cafes? Well, so do I! The other day, I was wandering around trying to figure out whether there were more banks than Subways (the restaurant, not the form of transport; Seattle will never, ever have a subway) and I really had no idea.

Franchised restaurants have made it a point to stay out of Belltown. OK, so maybe there is a McDonald's at 6th & Virginia, but it's on the non-Belltown part of the street. Besides that, the only other franchise is Subway. Banks are also extremely scarce, especially considering that this neighborhood is Seattle's most densely populated. It's not that they get robbed or anything, it's just that you're more likely to have crazy people wandering in, because, let's face it, crazy people represent a sizable percentage of Belltown's foot traffic. Consequently, banks don't bother to set up shop here.

I was curious to see how the numbers added up, so I went out and took some pictures. Here are the Subways:

1. 3rd & Lenora

2. 2nd & Wall

3. Western & Broad

4. 1st & Denny

That's four Subways. Which one is best? Who cares! They're all the same! OK, now the banks:

1. U.S. Bank at 3rd & Battery (This is one of my favorite buildings in Belltown; I plan to write more about it in the future. I mean, it's a bank with an escalator!)

2. Alaska USA Credit Union at 4th & Battery

3. Wells Fargo at 4th & Denny

4. Banner Bank at 2nd & Broad

5. Washington Mutual at 1st & Cedar (soon to be ChaseGoldmanMerrillSachsLynchCiti Brothers of America; now that's a name I can trust!)

6. Shorebank Pacific; they just opened up at 3rd & Cedar

7. Sound Community Bank at 5th & Virginia

So there you go! Banks defeat Subways and it wasn't even close! The next time somebody asks you whether Belltown has more banks than Subways, you can tell them with confidence!

1 comment:

Jim said...

I read something interesting about Subway in Eric Schlosser's book "Fast Food Nation." They are the most popular franchise in the U.S. because they allow owners to get started with about $200,000 rather than the $500,000 required by McDonald's and other chains. There are two problems with Subway, however. First of all, they demand higher monthly payments as a result and franchise owners have a much more difficult time paying the company for buns, processed meats, etc while trying to break even. The second difficulty is that they are so eager to get the start-up cash from potential owners that they do nothing to protect existing ones. In other words, McDonald's would never let a new owner open up a place across the street from an already operating McDonald's. Subway, on the other hand, has no such qualms. They appear perfectly happy to let their franchise owners fight it out, block by block. At least these banks are separate corporations - for now.