The Niche City Idea: How a Declining Manufacturing Center Exploited the Opportunities of Globalization


This article examines a small city that forged a global service industry niche. Its leaders aligned the temporality of its historic downtown with that of the international furniture industry to make it the world’s primary furniture merchandising node. This article overviews the radical transformation of the downtown, describes the ‘choreography’ of the area, and considers what the author feels are the important wider implications of what is, on the surface, a deceptively odd case. The author suggests that, in engaging this specific strategy, this very unique city portends a more general type of post‐industrial Niche City, a city that forges global centrality by creating an economic specialization in a specific segment of the global service economy.