I probably surprised people a couple of weeks ago when I said in the Bulletin that I thought Downtown Bend was not going to empty out. I predicted that both the Volo and the Merenda space would fill up, (and I think the Deep will, too.)
Because if anyone is going to open ANY business in Bend, Downtown Bend is the prime location.
This is not to say it is a smart or profitable move. Just that it will happen.
I've oft stated that Downtown Bend 'fails upward'; store comes in, fixes up space, fails, next store takes over nicer space at higher rent, fixes it up even more, fails, next store....
The difference is, now the rents aren't going up. Instead, sales are going down.
Equally challenging, but for different reasons.
With rents coming down or stabilizing (and I'm getting more and more reports of this....) the 'hermit crab' scenario is even more in play. Great locations, especially for businesses that are already solid.
Business in Downtown is definitely slower, but....it hasn't disappeared completely. I suspect that many locations around town are subsisting on nearly 100% regulars and locals. If that's enough, they'll survive.
But there is still a tiny bit of velvet Downtown. Just before I signed my last lease, about 4.8 years ago, I kept track of who was spending money in my store, and realized that a full 80% of my customers were people I either knew or recognized. By this, I mean people who actually spent money.
80%, during the summer, with lots of tourists.
(The old 80/20 rule seems to work here; 80% of the customers are drop-ins, but spend only 20% of the money. 20% of the people in the door are regulars, but spend 80% of the money.)
That formula probably changed a little over the next few years -- sales probably increased to somewhere in the range of 30 to 35% from drop-ins, though I didn't keep strict account.
I think it's shrunk back to about 20% again. When I do the numbers, my regulars get me about 80% of the way to my required totals everyday, so the other 20% are visitors and/or newcomers. All manageable if the overhead is kept down, and with careful buying.
What I'm saying, in a way, is that Downtown Bend is being sustained as much by it's cultural allure as by it's business profitability.
I cheer each new store opening. I can look forward to Zydeco being on a few doors away, to the Oxford Hotel being only a block away, to all the retail along the bottom.
What's not to like?
NEW BUSINESS'S DOWNTOWN
King of Sole (moved)
Luxe Home Interiors
Dudley's Used Books and Coffee
Bend Burger Company
Stewart Weinmann (leather)
Pella Doors and Windows
King of Sole (updated; moved.)
Pomegranate (downtown branch)
Pronghorn Real Estate office.
Help me out here. Any others?
7 hours ago