Think about the places you love that avoid that fate. How do they turn a generic space into a specific place? I avoid places that are generica.
It saddens me when all across the country a place full of chain stores, and chain restaurants is the same from city to city, state to state. They are inauthentic and you know they offer pretty much the same experience you could have anywhere. They are from nowhere.
What are the best examples in your world of authentic, crunchy, original experiences?