Monday, May 28, 2007

A three parter today.

There was a fun documentary on the History Channel last night about the Star Trek Paramount Christie's auction.

Amazing how much that show has permeated the culture. My Mom resisted the nerds around her for years. I don't remember her actually sitting with us as Dad and I watched the original Star Trek. But when she went to see the Star Trek movie with the whales she commented:

"I never knew how much I cared about those characters...."

I remember telling her about a movie about a little marooned alien, and how she was going to see it. "I'm not going to see a movie about an alien."

Of course, she went to see E.T., just like everyone else.

She was always a little puzzled about the invasion of the body snatching effect the Lord Of The Rings had on her second son. A perfectly normal kid became obsessed, reading the book so many times he lost count. And then growing up to own a pop-culture store, of all things. She understood a some level, because as a child she had been obsessed with Winnie the Pooh. (Hated the Walt Disney incarnation.) But, she refused to read LOTR's.

I was able to take her to the first LOTR's movie, shortly before she died. Her comment was that she liked Harry Potter better. Sigh. But at least she learned I wasn't the only nut out there.

There is a new documentary on Star Wars on the history channel tonight that looks interesting. I'd like to track down the big book that just came out.

There are some benefits to this job.

On a completely different subject. The article on the building in the Old Mill Quarter that is forcing out most of its tenants. I feel especially bad for Joyce of the Curiosity Shop, because she has already gone through the exact same thing in the old downtown.

I'm also alarmed by that 180 day eviction clause; enough to check our own leases. What good is that? Might as well have a six month lease, on the owners parts, while the tenants are stuck with a full lease?

It does sound like they were getting pretty cheap rent, frankly, in old buildings. What all the boho's and artists need to do is find some downtrodden part of Bend, turn it into the next cool destination for people with original taste, and leave all the yuppie infested places to everyone else. Problem is, I can't think of where that would be.

Finally, just in case there are any downtown owners who read this blog: Over the last two months, my hourly sales average on Sunday's has been 25% better than the rest of the week.

That's right. better.

In fact, on a four hour day, I'm doing 80% as well as a normal 7.5 hour day.

Just so those of you who still close on Sundays know. I worked the store yesterday, and I noticed that almost all the business was walk-about traffic. There was a Sunday edition of the Saturday Market, but my sales have been high for the last two months on Sundays, even when the weather was cooler.

I've said for years that, if you are going to open on Sundays, you need to do it long enough for enough of your regulars to notice. I was slightly sympathetic with those owners who didn't want to do it, because I knew it took time to develop. I don't think that's true anymore. I think we're getting enough business from tourists that we don't need the regulars on Sundays.

I've also thought for years, that we had the potential of doing Sister's type business on Sundays in downtown Bend. Why not? We have a similar mix of stores, a similar appeal to the tourist. In fact, we might be able to generate significant business throughout the year, not just during the summer, unlike Sisters.

I think even without those business owners who don't open on Sundays, we may have reached the combustion point. There are enough old businesses and new businesses downtown, spaced in an attractive enough frequency, to be able to ignore the shuttered stores. Hey, maybe we're getting a bigger percentage of the tourist traffic because those stores aren't open....

What kills me, is that these are the same stores who clamor for 'special events' and 'street closures'. Which I hate, frankly. In fact, I have enough sales history to say that the exact opposite of the recent Sundays sales phenomenon happens. We drop about 25% in sales every time they close the streets. I'm resigned to the 'promotion minded' members of the retail community. (Though the original instigators of almost all these events are out of business, so I guess it didn't do them much good.) But I wish they would restrain themselves to current events. I've always thought closing the streets during the summer, is like closing a restaurant on a Saturday night.

Please don't do me any favors.

I believe, if we didn't hold another special event downtown that we will be PACKED WITH CUSTOMERS THIS SUMMER! Please leave them alone to shop.

But even if I agreed that special events are a good thing, I'm still mystified as to why -- after making so much effort to attract customers downtown -- the same stores CLOSE on days when there are hordes of customers wandering around. Not special event attendees -- who are there for the EVENT and not to shop -- but actual, real live customers. THEN you close?

As I said, I think those of us who open on Sundays are already the winners. And those who close on Sundays are missing out.

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