“The inability to listen is a form of arrogance. It means either you
think you already know it all, or you just don’t care.” (Lee Iacocca)
Our friends Chele and BA are heading West for an artists residency, and are blogging about their journey. This photo cracked me up:
It reminds me of every city we’ve worked in where young professionals bemoan that their Main Street goes dark after 5.
Often, these are places that are more rural than urban. And as a business owner myself, I can only think of five reasons that a retailer would intentionally choose to limit their hours to 10 am and 4 pm, and post a sign saying, “You can’t see anything from out there.”
Reason #1: Their customers are all retirees, unemployed, or 2nd and 3rd shift workers. These are the only folks for whom the hours of 10 am - 4 pm are convenient. For young professionals, these are work hours, when they’re earning their money, not spending it.
Reason #2: These retailers don’t care about making money. Maybe they’re already filthy stinking rich, and don’t need your damn money. Or maybe their store is simply a hobby. My advice: move your hobby off Main Street, and let someone with a real fire in their belly take-up your lease.
Reason #3: They don’t want to develop loyal, fanatical next gen customers, who’ll tweet them up and give them great reviews on Yelp . Only ambitious, in-touch, and visionary retailers want to do this.
Reason #4: They’re in on the conspiracy to make sure that the next-gen leaves town.
Reason #5: They don’t listen to their customers. This is tied into #2 and #3 above, but it’s amazing how often I see arrogant business owners who think they’re smarter than their customers.
No matter what the reasons, I wish that YPs in communities like this would fight back with an “Open Up!” campaign. Here’s what I mean…
How about a week- (or a weekend-) long campaign, armed with nothing more than those GIANT POST-IT NOTES and Wide Tip Markers…where we make our own signs for shop windows, encouraging stores to “open up” - not just to snag our business, but to improve their business. I envision signs that say things like:
- Rats! I wanted to buy a TV here, but you were closed. Why aren’t you open? - Saturday, 9 am
- Bummer, I had $30 to buy flowers for my girlfriend, but you weren’t open. Maybe next time. - Thursday, 8 pm
- My baby needs diapers. I think you sell them. But I’m a working mom, so I guess I have to shop someplace else. Please stay open. - Monday, 5:15 pm
Retailers know that CONSUMERS are the ones driving the business. So, let’s talk to them. Let’s tell them what they’re missing when they don’t open up!
P.S. I double-dog dare you to launch an “Open Up” campaign in your community. If you do - or if you do something just as impactful to make your downtown a cooler place - I’ll spend my lunch hour with your YPs via skype or a conference call, gratis. I want to support YPs who are making their cities better.