Monday, June 23, 2008

Food food everywhere and not a bite to eat.

41 one restaurants in downtown Bend. Well, that's just nutty nut nuts! Not counting coffee and tea, which would add, what, 5 more? How about sidewalk vendors? Are they counting candy shops? More than 25% of them are for sale? Ouch.

One thing that always makes me wince is when anyone says that they don't need to make money...that isn't believable. Rich people like to lose money even less than poor people (who are used to it, after all.)

Here's the thing. The gap in reality and perception is so large, still, that some of these restaurants will probably actually sell; which will give the landlords no reason to lower lease rates, and will just encourage other restaurants into the pool.

Latest I heard, the high end dress shop in my building might be taken over by another refreshment server.

We had an average weekend, overall at Pegasus. The closing of the streets, and the milling of the crowds, just made it a steeper hill to climb to get there, is all.

But you'll notice I haven't bitched this year. I'm just hoping they haven't scheduled the summer fest and the bike race on the same weekend again.

There is a gallery of mug-shots and KTVZ today.

Another sign that we've over scheduled the damn summer? (When are people supposed to mosey around, and you know, actually shop?) The sheriff can't cover all the events.

Really, it's time to quit packing the weekends.

Relatedly -- when I go to the coast, I want to walk along the beaches and take in the sights. Not normally interested in the touristy things. But they have an exhibit in Newport that combine exotic sea life and beautiful glass sculptures. That sounds awesome.


dkgoodman said...

I noticed that nothing was actually blocking the front of your store nor the street there. It was easy to see the store and get to it. Maybe your past bitching paid off. :)

eyepublius said...

"Really, it's time to quit packing the weekends."

Well, yeah, but the season of good weather in Bend is so short that we don't have much choice.

One thing that bugs me is every damn one of these Bend festivals or fests or feasts or fiestas or whatever they call 'em is exactly like every other one: food booths, overpriced beer and wine, a few musical acts and "crafts" booths. Can't somebody come up with a different idea?

PartTimeFaineant said...

Local economies will do what they always do. Speculation of a few harpoon shooters (retailers and/or those that don't even support independent business) that 'there are too many restaurants' is just uninformed conjecture.

Are there too many restaurants? Only the market knows the answer. Could downtown benefit by becoming a dynamic dining destination? Maybe. Are several for sale? Sure. Why? Because like any business, and perhaps more importantly the food business which seems to have a romantic appeal for some, they tend to have a dramatic beginning and end.

In reference to a boutique changing to refreshment shop, as usual there is more to the story than just rumor and speculation. However, how can you blame an economy-nationwide-that has seemed to thrive in the last few decades in serving things rather than making them? Hang on to your hats because there is a much bigger price that we are going to pay for that trend than just the pedantic concern of higher rents.

Events-well, they are great for stores.

Theoretical-if you had a brand or product wouldn't you want to expose it to the maximum amount of people? Would your rather have the opportunity to expose to the same 500 people who already know about it and buy it OR have 20,000 people who have NEVER heard of your product be exposed to it? Sure, most may not buy that day, but they were exposed and that's what matters because as long as your product has appeal-people will buy it. The only thing that makes that hill steeper to climb is the burden of dated thinking. Really, it's time to CONTINUE packing the weekends.

EVERY business loses 20% of their customers every year thru' normal attrition (not counting elitist or unfriendly clerks driving people away). Therefore, every business turns over their customer base every 5 years. The free market dictates that you MUST constantly grow and reach out to new customers. Hiding in your store, not advertising your product and just complaining about it makes the hill steeper. Reaching out, participating, cooperating, engaging and helping people breaks down the hills. Most certainly, a bunch of speculation, righteous ignorance, pontification and hyperbole on a blog do not flatten them.

I checked around and yes, the bike race is scheduled on the same weekend as summer fest. The conflict is much bigger than dorky little downtown Bend and way bigger than both events-and could not be avoided.

It is what it is. The streets close in downtown Bend about 3% of the year. If you can't draw-in your regular customers that claim to be so inconvenienced by having to walk two blocks 3% of the time then maybe it's time to change the product line.

~fellow downtown business owner

Duncan McGeary said...

Well, at least you didn't tell me to move out!

RDC said...


Certainly sounds like you hit a sore point on someone. (anger phase)?

Duncan McGeary said...


I believe you way overestimate the power of blogging. I doubt that many people are reading, and I really doubt it has any influence on their opinions, and I really, really doubt it has any influence on their behavior.

Duncan McGeary said...

Anyway to kick off this discussion: (keep it civil, folks, if you weigh in!)

I'd start by saying that I don't really know restaurants. I usually make that disclaimer, but I thought my 'nutty nut nuts' comment was pretty mild and folksy.

I was responding to a Bulletin article where the restaurants people themselves seemed concerned.

I'm not a foody. Give me a pastrami and cheese sandwich and I'm happy. Most of the dining activity takes place after I close my store and go home.

I wouldn't think that having 25% of the restaurants for sale would be a healthy sign, but maybe it's normal.

I actually am trying NOT to bitch about street closures. I've managed to make them a neutral event,by carrying a different mix of product.

I'm realistic about the chances of cutting back on these events. But like anything else, I do believe moderation is a good idea.

If I have a sale once a year, it might have a huge impact. A sale twice a year, less of one.

If I have a sale every week, no impact at all, eventually.

I have tried to tailor my merchandise to attract the new people downtown, and it's worked. Believe me, I'm not complaining about the foot traffic. But I also have a core product that I can't get too far away from.

As far as these events being good for stores. Maybe, for some, maybe for all. I know that my sales used to actually go down, and now they stay even. (More work, but that's o.k.)

Yes, it's a small minority of weekends, thank goodness, and I've mentioned before that I think they actually do some good on off seasons, such as fall and spring.

My complaint in the past has been that they tend to cluster them at peak hours and peak days. But, again, most of these are ingrained by now and unlikely to change.

Though I would suggest we have enough, for the moment.

I haven't really seen any evidence that it generates future business beyond the assertion that exposure is good, and that it makes sense so it must be so....

I'm not a great believer in advertising. I carry product that appeals to such a small minority of people that it hasn't been cost effective. Believe me I've tried.

The product I do have which might work in advertising are all sidelines, no more than 15% of total sales, again not terribly cost effective.

Hiding in my store? Guilty. One of my motivations for opening a store in the first place.

I'm not sure that concern over higher lease rates isn't real and not pedantic. I do pay rent. But again, I don't think anything I might say on the subject will change the rates much.

I thought it interesting that the Bulletin article talked about leases from the last 2 years as being a problem because circumstances have changed.

Finally, if I thought my comments were hurting other downtown businesses, I would probably stop. But I really doubt they have any effect at all.

Compare my remarks a year ago to today, and you'll see I've really moderated. Both because I don't want to hurt anyone else, and because I've come to realize I can't really change any of these things and I might as well accept them with at least a little bit of grace.

Mild grumbling, it what it is.

I do thank you for your comments.

Quimby said...

Duncan, you really need to stop blogging. It appears that your ideas are not popular and are offending some of your fellow business owners.

Although part-time's comments are well written, there is a tone of "Shut it up Duncan".

Just put on a happy face, stuff your thoughts/feelings and go along with the dance, lest wild-haired business schemes (like another restaurant parttime?) fail.

Duncan has been absolutely right on that there are too many restaurants for Bend to support. This Bullshitten article is some small vindication for the crap that he's taken over the past few years.

Keep calling them as you see them Dunc. That's why we read!

Quimby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Duncan McGeary said...

No, I think that's fair. There was a definite 'Love it or Leave it' vibe.

On the other hand, many of the points were legitimate and should be addressed.

I think I'm a bit more nuanced about street closures these days. Like I said, moderation.

The restaurant situation really is a curiosity to me, more than anything.

And, again, I really doubt expressing myself as mildly (?) as I do, I doubt the blog is all that important.

I was a bit surprised that my entry caused such a reaction, actually.

I wonder if I'm just flat wrong about the street closures when just about everyone else thinks they're a good idea.

But unless I'm willing to show up at downtowner meetings and or city council meeting, and unless I have evidence my viewpoint is correct, I'm trying to restrain myself to mild grumblings.

Or so I thought. Something might be lost in translation on the internet.

Duncan McGeary said...

See what I mean? Nobody is really paying attention, or they just don't take it that seriously.

I'm just spouting off. You can safely ignore me.

PartTimeFaineant said...

Your opinion like most others is important. We're all in this together and that's why I bothered to write.

I apologize if I came across as cranky-'twas a bumpy night that drove me into an emotional cul de sac where I let me fingers do the walking here. I merely wanted to offer other opinions on some things that were not entirely accurate.

So keep on doing what you're doing. The dialogue is great and we need all perspectives to make this ship float.

Duncan McGeary said...

I was glad to hear from you. I don't talk enough to other downtowners, really.

Let's keep the discussion going. You may not like tomorrow's post, but I'm trying hard to be even handed.