If the merchants of 900 East and 900 South share a common woe, it's the dearth of parking spaces on their corner.
But Bryce Jolley, whose family has operated the corner pharmacy for nearly 40 years, says the parking problem is really a mixed blessing."I wish the parking was improved, but at the same time, you don't want to create a shopping mall feeling. The character of the neighborhood is maintained the way we have it now," Jolley said in a recent interview.
A lot has changed at 9th and 9th since Jolley's father, Joel, started Jolley's Corner Pharmacy in 1954.
Jolley, 32, has worked at the family business since he was 8 years old. Only a handful of businesses established when his father took over the pharmacy has endured the past four decades, among them an upholstery shop, barbershop and a Toro store.
Businesses that died long ago have been replaced by shops that offer gourmet breads, frozen yogurt and specialty jewelry. And who would have imagined 40 years ago that New York-style bagels would be the rage in Salt Lake City, or that one could make a living selling fly fishing equipment?
Most longtime businesses on the corner have had to diversify to survive, a phenomenon Jolley understands well, he says.
Long gone is the soda fountain that graced the family store in its early days. The long rows of cosmetics, over-the-counter medicines, toys and school supplies are a thing of the past. The store still offers those items, but the sections have been consolidated to make way for a video rental service and a specialty gift counter.
The key to success for shops in a neighborhood shopping area is providing customers a service or product they can't get elsewhere, Jolley said. Good customer service keeps them coming back, he said.
While they groan about the lack of parking spaces, Greg Tanner said he believes the neighborhood setting offers shoppers convenience in a quiet neighborhood setting.
Tanner, owner of Cinema in Your Face, is attempting to obtain financing to buy the now-defunct Tower Theater and move his art house into the vacant movie house.
"It's a perfect match of everything I'd want. It's the right size theater and the right size neighborhood and a great centralized location," he said.
Real estate aside, Tanner said he likes the location because the neighborhood is what is described as a "student ghetto."
"The neighborhood itself in general is probably more educated than most neighborhoods of that income level," Tanner said.
The unusual mix of specialty stores such as Brackman Brothers Bagel Bakery, the Southwest Shop and Auto Parts Unlimited attracts a wide variety of customers. But Jolley said a customer who visits the corner for a specific product or service also may stop in the pharmacy for a box of cough drops or pick up a loaf of bread at Great Harvest Bread Co.
"It's in everyone's best interest to have us all succeed," Jolley said.
Jane Rogers can attest to that. In 1986, she sold her house to raise money to open Red's Frozen Yogurt and Ice Cream at 870 S. 900 East.
She took the chance because she believed her product would be popular with people who shopped at New Frontiers Natural Foods Market and Cafe. The market has since moved to the Avenues.
"That's really why I was there. All the granola crunchers came in there, and I figured yogurt would go with that," she said.
Apparently Rogers' theory worked. Red's has opened two other shops in the Salt Lake Valley. Rogers is minority owner of the stores, she said.
The corner seems to be fertile ground for novel businesses.
For instance, the Sun Bun Cafe, a vegetarian restaurant that serves sandwiches on specially baked rolls, has found a niche among the diverse businesses in the neighborhood.
"This area just seems to be getting more popular all the time," said co-owner Barbar Ferree.
She attributes the area's popularity with the merchants' commitment to customer service. "I think people really like that. People really like our food, but they want more than that. They like to be nurtured, too," she said.