The good news is that in a day and age when small, independent bricks and mortar retailers struggle to survive in the Amazon era, Newtonville Camera isn’t going out of business.
The unfortunate news is that the store — in operation for more than four decades — is moving to Waltham. They’re moving to the Colonial Shopping Center on River Street in Waltham, just over the Newton border and 1.4 miles from its current location.
Newtonville’s Walnut Street store will be closing Feb. 10, with a grand re-opening date expected in late March or early April.
While this isn’t good news for Newton it’s great for Newtonville Camera’s customers and for store owner Paul Roberts, his family and his employees.
And Paul Roberts is one of the good guys: civic minded, smart, compassionate and not shy about speaking his mind. Back when developer Robert Korff was seeking support for Washington Street, Roberts was one of the project’s most articulate supporters — even though the project meant he would need to relocate his family business. Roberts recognized that the project was going to be good for Newton and Newtonville, even though it was going to stink for him.
What happened to Roberts is hardly unique for mom and pop merchants who struggle to find affordable retail space. As the Globe reported earlier this week, the City of Boston has pondered this very problem but there’s no easy solution. I hope our mayor and city council will commit to doing the same.
One solution Roberts proposed to the candidates for mayor at a forum last year was to require developers to offer below market retail space as part of a special permit, presumably instead of some of the other many give backs that become part of the negotiations.