Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sat. snips

Yesterday was like the perfect Bend weather day. (sorry, bend sux.)

I wanted to head the opposite direction from work...

This morning was supposed to be cold and nasty, but the weatherman is wrong again, and it's beautiful. I'm going to try to get out in the woods with a notebook and a pencil.


Had a big day at the store yesterday, so didn't feel the slightest twinge of regret as I locked the doors at 6:00 as usual, and turned around to see the huge crowds milling around the sidewalks.

In the last hour, I had about 4 couples come in from the Art Hop, and they looked at the books and left, and I just didn't feel like staying around for a few more hours to watch more of that.

Not sure why I think these events are great for the browsers, but not so great from my store, but there it is....

What do I know?


There are a million metrics for economic performance, and you can always pick and choose.

But....I've noticed less bank closures, the stock market is still going strong, and the employment rate -- at least nationally -- does seem to be coming down.

So...I'm cautiously optimistic that we are beginning to see the start of a possible tiny little uptick.

I know in my store, I'm rolling over last year's downturn over the next few months. Looking at last summer's sales, it's hard to believe I won't beat those numbers...


Meanwhile, in Bend, we don't have the money to fix potholes.

Which is pretty much what all us bubble bloggers were saying as the City of Bend was throwing millions at Juniper Ridge and a new bus system.

Oh,well. What did we know?


It does seem to me that a whole lot of businesses position themselves -- or market themselves -- as "public"; almost as non-profit institutions.

Of course, the public loves it. What's not to love? It's all about them, and all the entertaining and comforts and cheapness and --

But is it business? Is it the buying and selling of product?

And does it work? Does it create enough good will to help your business?

Why doesn't just being steadily open regular hours, selling product, knowing and displaying your product, and doing all those storelike things -- why isn't that enough?

I guess what I'm saying is -- it would be nice to see a small percentage of those "hordes" coming in during regular hours and, you know, like buying stuff. Instead of milling around once a month on Friday, knocking back the wine.

I know. I know. They're supposed to come back later. But that's kind of the point. Why are they coming back "later?"

I don't have the answers. But I know that I feel like being the old steady storekeeper, open every day, doing every day things, is the way to go. Believe me, if you do it long enough, it's quite enough work.

Promotions are the tail, not the dog.


Looks like our local legal community is going through it's version of The Good Wife. heh.

All that unseemly high schoolish rangling. Probably always there, but we're just seeing it played out in public...


H. Bruce Miller said...

"Yesterday was like the perfect Bend weather day. (sorry, bend sux.)"

I'm not worried; it'll revert to its sucky norm before long. One or two nice days do not a paradise make.

Re your annoyance with browsers coming into your store: Have you made any estimate of how many browsers in your store end up buying something? And how that figure compares with the national retail average? I don't know anything about retail, but I'd be surprised if more than 1 out of 20 people who enter a store on a given day actually make a purchase. It's probably an even lower ratio for a store in a high-foot-traffic area like downtown Bend.

H. Bruce Miller said...

This is kind of an addendum to the previous one:

There must be a reason you stay in downtown despite all your kvetching about the parking situation, the special events, etc., and I'm think it's gotta be for the foot traffic. You could move to a strip mall out on Third Street and pay less rent and have parking spaces right in front of your door, but I bet you wouldn't sell as much.

Duncan McGeary said...

I don't know that I'm "annoyed" at browsers, just not willing to stay open extra hours.

I still retain a "destination" status among many of my customers --

But even without that, I'd say the odds of someone buying something are quite a bit higher than that -- I'm thinking more like one in four, and up.

That's a total guess -- but even if it's double than that, it's eight to one.

Also, there is an assumption in your comments that these 'events' create the foot traffic, whereas I believe we would have almost all the same foot traffic without the events.

That's the part that can never be measured, of course. There are many many proponents of events, and few of me -- but somehow I'm still here, and many of them are gone.

If it was just numbers of people finding your store -- I've had huge numbers of people find my store over the years, and I still sell to what I would call "customers" who coming in the store on regular hours.

I don't get the sense that any of them are the people who come back "later" because of the event -- probably less than are driven away on the day of the events.'s the big difference. There is a time you want to do this kind of thing -- Redmond needs to do it, Bend at one point needed to do it.

I think that time has passed. We have won that battle, but we just keep firing our rifles...

Duncan McGeary said...

Of course, I'm downtown because I have 30 years of customers who know I'm there.

But if it was just foot traffic, I'd also choose to be downtown.

It's just that I think foot traffic is generated by day to day business, not by special events.

In fact, I'd lay money we'd get more (return or otherwise) foot traffic by being 100% open on Sundays, instead of closing streets and staying late.

The same neighbors who close on Sundays, are gung ho for these events.

It's inexplicable to me...

Duncan McGeary said...

By the way, Bruce. Can you find a post where I've kvetched about parking?

I'm more likely to kvetch about the kvetching about parking. I think the parking is adequate -- especially with the parking garage.

I think it's the pervasive "feeling" that there is a parking "problem" as evidenced by your comment, that is the problem, not the parking itself.

Which leads these foolish downtown scofflaws who could easily park in the garage is they had any brains.

I did kvetch that we needed to find some cheap parking for minimum wage employees...but that's because I remember what that was like not too long ago.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"there is an assumption in your comments that these 'events' create the foot traffic"

No, I didn't assume that. But they definitely put a lot of bodies on the streets. If you could lure those bodies into your store, and if one out of eight (at least) bought something, wouldn't that be a good thing?

Someday, just for the hell of it, you (or one of your minions) should do a head count of people who come into your store during an event day and compare it with the number who enter on a "normal" Saturday or whatever.

"By the way, Bruce. Can you find a post where I've kvetched about parking?"

I thought I remembered you saying something about shoppers not being willing to walk any distance to stores. But I could be wrong.

Duncan McGeary said...

"...shoppers not being willing to walk any distance to stores."

Like I said, a problem with perception.

Over the years I've counted event numbers and revenue over and over again.

It's a bit better nowadays than it used to be, because I carry product the public may actually buy, like books -- now I get lots more people but about the same amount of money as usual.

In other words, working harder, more stress, more damage for the same money.

In the old days, I get something twice as many people as usual, and make less money....

I'd even get acknowledgment out of other merchants that their sales on the day were down.

But the assurance has always been that "they'll come back later." I just don't buy that notion as much anymore.

Staying late for Art Hop -- I could try that, I guess. But I think the behavior I see early in the event is probably indicative of the behavior I'd see later in the event.

I suppose I could get soused on wine....

Duncan McGeary said...

The one out of four to eight figure is on regular business days. Probably better buyer ratio on weekdays than weekends.

Events are a whole nother story -- it may actually be that 20 to 1 ratio you mentioned earlier, or worse.

I'm not complaining over nothin'...

I think I complain a bit more than I actually feel because I'm so annoyed with everyone else telling me it's good for me...

Duncan McGeary said...

...without a slightest bit of proof.