No wonder McMahan's was so uninspired when Linda and I were shopping there a couple of weeks ago: I should have recognized the signs. Another store that has been here in Bend longer than most who is giving up.
Why does this keep happening? Why is it the older businesses (Ernesto's; McMahans; Book Barn) who are quitting?
I was trying to explain this to someone yesterday, and came up with this: Let's say that you need a score of 50 out of 100 to stay viable. Let's say that you start at 100, but lose three points (ageing, wear and tear, motivation, etc.) for every year in business. Let's say you're hovering around 60 points, still viable if not exciting, and along comes a recession; or major competition; or any other complication that is inevitable. Suddenly you drop 10 or 15 points.
Your new competitor may have dropped to 85, or so, but still seems viable.
Anybody buy that explanation?
Something like that happens; newer businesses may not be any more viable in the long run, they just haven't got to the crunch point yet.
I also use the expression, friends comes and go, but enemies accumulate; or the variation of that, customers come and go, but mistakes accumulate. Ignorance is bliss, if you will. But if you've been through the mill a few times and you know what's coming and you have some options...you may decide closing is the prudent option.
I've never really believed the dire statistics for start ups. I tend to believe that just about anyone, doesn't matter how misguided or under capitalized or badly run, can last 2 years and most can last 5 years.
But past that, it can become hard to make the changes necessary, to stay motivated, to revitalize your business. I'm pretty proud of the fact that not only has my business survived 24.5 years, but that I am currently thriving. But I was dancing pretty close to the cliff there a few times, and I'm never so far away from the edge that a giant wind couldn't push me over....Running a store is just too competitive to ever believe your cushion is very big.
It turned out that it required a ridiculous amount of product lines and effort; or staying put in the same location as it turned viable around me; or weathering some big downturns and gaining experience; and probably most importantly, finding a product (comic books) that the big chain stores just hasn't figured out how to do -- yet.
Admittedly, not the most lucrative of businesses. But I think it was probably the best thing I could've done.
And I still think we're way over retailed in this town; we'll see a lot more old timer businesses deciding they've had enough.
Coming Next Week: 5/29/13
9 hours ago