Monday, October 17, 2011

How come everyone knows what to do except the actual businesses?

Thanks Bulletin for telling me what's best for my business.

"Don't Kill Downtown Festivals, Tame Them."

These are the same arguments I've heard for 30 years.

"There are already limits on the number of festivals"...."that can close off downtown streets."

Some limit. 3 weekends out of 4. So they let us have one summer weekend per month to actually benefit from the summer business.

"Reservations for July and August dates will probably be full for the next 100 years...." "Demand for January and February for street closures is typically light.:

And yet somehow -- it's O.K for downtown businesses to pay their high rents during the "typically light" months. But outside vendors are allowed to avoid these months, and cherry pick our busiest season.

"There have been questions and concerns about downtown street closures for years."

And these questions and concerns have been utterly ignored. I should know -- I think I've been about the only downtown business owner who has been willing to go on record. What's most interesting about this, is that they have pushed these events so hard that others are finally speaking up.

"It's not like the city can just look through the books of all the downtown businesses and tally up the sales data."

Hey, my business goes down during events. I'm not lying. But somehow that fact falls on deaf ears.

"The crowds also bring exposure if they don't bring immediate sales. That exposure can encourage visitors to make more trips."

Wait a minute. Didn't you just ask for evidence? Prove the above assertion, because I don't believe it's true any more, no matter how much sense it makes on the surface. Really. Prove it.

In fact, I've told the Bulletin that I think they should do a survey of other cities, to see how they handle these things. How often are streets closed in downtown districts? How often in the summer? What are the restrictions and costs? Are there any studies (not paid for by the promotion industry) that actually prove the long term benefits?

" Bend has a downtown that many communities would love to have. The city must not jeopardize Bend's vibrancy..."

You know what? That's just insulting. It isn't the festivals that make downtown vibrant! It's the businesses. The festivals are feeding off that vibrancy, not the other way around. These street closures should be in proportion to how much we need them. Years ago, downtown Bend needed as many events as possible.

But as we actually succeeded, we should have begun to tail off on the number of events but instead -- like Frankenstein's monster -- they've taken on a momentum that apparently can't be stopped.

It is unbelievably frustrating to see these events continually expand.


Duncan McGeary said...

I don't know. This may be unfair to the Bulletin.

At least the problems are finally being acknowledged. For years, I was simply told I was wrong.

Anonymous said...

Someday, I'll come out as well...but not just yet. I own a downtown business on Wall Street and these festivals HURT sales in the short AND long run! I have owned it for 6+ years and the pattern holds through good times and bad. We actually have people with reservations who call and cancel from their vehicles when they see the road closures. Like I tell my 4 year old son, "Everything in moderation." Maybe the "deciders" of Bend could learn something from my child.

Leitmotiv said...

Thanks for pointing out the obvious to the Bulletin: "It isn't the festivals that make downtown vibrant! It's the businesses."

Businesses there don't change much from month to month. They are the stable thing that brings you back. The festivals are such a varied and mixed lot that it doesn't draw the same people each time.

But it's funny. For how conservative The Bulletin is, you'd think they'd support local business.

Leitmotiv said...

You know, if Bend's core downtown footprint was actually two or three times bigger than it is now, they could juggle and shuffle where the festivals are held. They could give one part of downtown a break.

But you can't because Bend's downtown is fricken small! You hold one festival there, and it completely knocks out the entire place!

H. Bruce Miller said...

"Prove the above assertion, because I don't believe it's true any more, no matter how much sense it makes on the surface. Really. Prove it."

Bend is a great town for using unproven assertions and assumptions as the basis for policy. I don't know if it's because of laziness or a desire not to know the truth or both.

It should be fairly easy to do a poll that would provide at least some empirical evidence to support or disprove the claim that the fiestas / special events help downtown businesses.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"It isn't the festivals that make downtown vibrant! It's the businesses."

I think it's a bit of both. But if the downtown businesses get killed off, it won't matter how many fiestas there are.

Anonymous said...

what does the city / bend downtowners charge the promoters for each event?

H. Bruce Miller said...

"The festivals are such a varied and mixed lot ..."

They're not varied enough -- that's one problem with 'em.

And I don't think they're much of a tourist draw either. Tourists might enjoy the festivals when they're here, but I don't believe many people make a special trip to Bend to attend one of them.

But that's an unproven assumption, and I would welcome an empirical test of it.

Anonymous said...

I went to the meeting tonight all I heard was coffee shops and restaurants saying it helped and retail saying it hurts. Guess who won?

The winner? Chuck Arnold who got to basically say he was powerless, the rules have no teeth, he has no clue how to solve the problems...but got kudos for doing such a good job.


Anonymous said...

I know of a food establishment that the street closures are having an adverse effect on. (besides Bourbon Street.)

They really should start holding most of the festivals in the parking lot between city hall and the school district hq.

Anonymous said...

Duncan, your observations match with my business's as well in my town. The events are not as numerous here in Roseburg, but outside of the Graffiti cruise, none of the others create any direct revenue for my shop.

The Cruise is Roseburg's big event, and sometimes puts an extra 25,000 people or so in town. Most years it has created sales, but I have had years where it is a bust.

Mostly Downtown Roseburg is hooked on Wine Walks. They want me to give wine away. I haven't participated because alcohol and possible connection to youth doesn't make sense for a comic book shop. Plus I can't see me making back the cost of the wine. Besides I have never had a person walk into my shop while the wine walk is happening.


Anonymous said...

If the event people are imposing on space that you are paying rent on, then shouldn't the event people help to pay your rent on those days?

Anonymous said...

The fucking BULL isn't local folks, it don't care about local biz.

They care about bring people from seattle & pdx to Bend, who buy condo's.

they only care about condo viewers because that is the desire of their advertisers, and of course lord-hollern who is the real fucking empire that holds the bridle to the BULL.

Anonymous said...

Events bring people to Bend.

Those people buy homes and/or condos.

Fuck the locals,

Always been this way,

Best to have ten events a week and keep the town full of CALI's, WASHY's, 1 in 100, will fall in love and transfer his assets to HOLLERN.

Anonymous said...

Let's all remember that the SORE promotes most events.

That the SORE also makes profit because they OWN most events, and promote with their rag.

That the SORE runs out of SISTERS and has little concern for Bend.

That lot's of people use the 'internet' to search 'whats going on in central-orygun this weekend'. I guess you folks don't understand that its not bad in Bend compared to PDX, in pdx you can not see sun for months, so a weekend in Bend is pretty sweet, and a beer event or some other marketed butt-fuck is just what it takes to get the rain depressed calis living in pdx or sea over the mtn