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Monday, January 18, 2010

Retailers' Responsibility for a Vibrant Retail Scene



I have been critical in the past on this blog about those that I feel have not fully supported retail development in Fort Thomas.  This has included the city, property owners, and zoning.  One group that has avoided the criticism has been the business owners themselves.  An event recently emphasized the business owners' role in the lack of momentum that has been sustained by Fort Thomas business districts and they should not escape responsibility.

A few weeks ago during a Bengals football game a few buddies and I got together to watch the game and decided to order pizza.  In an attempt to support local businesses we called up Fort Thomas Pizza only to realize that they were closed and did not open until 4pmBusiness owners of course have the right to set whatever hours they like and the cost of keeping a business open during down periods can mean the difference between a profit and loss.  However, I can't believe that during football season the local pizzera would not be open for business.  To underscore the impact of not being open during this typically busy period I found a press release from Domino's Pizza related to Super Bowl Sunday that talks about football's impact on pizza sales:

  • During football games, respondents are more likely to order pizza before a game starts (65 percent) as opposed to halftime (27 percent) or between games (8 percent)
  • 68 percent of football fans make pizza their choice for a game-day meal.
  • Domino's Pizza sees higher sales when the game is close and competitive. With closer games, people are more likely to stay glued to the tube.
10 of the 17 Bengals games started at 1pm in the 2009 season.  Also, many of the games this year came down to the final play in regulation or went to overtime.  How many sales are they missing out on?

I don't intend to make this a Fort Thomas Pizza bashing session but they happen to be a recent example of the problem with businesses in Fort Thomas.   I wrote about another recent example after Donuts and Coffee opened and were not open when I went by at 10:30amHaving hours that are convenient for people to shop and having reliable hours are key to having a thriving business and this has been spotty at best.




This brings me to another point about an article I read in Fast Company this past fall about Panera Bread.  The article was primarily about the recent strong performance of the company but there were a few keys to their strategy that Fort Thomas business owners would be smart to listen to:
  1. "In many ways, we're renting space to people and the food is the price of admission," says CEO Ron Shaich
  2. "A diverse stream of customers flows around him, settling throughout the airy café: a study group (with sandwiches, salads, and soda), a bride-to-be chatting with her wedding photographer (lattes, lemon Bundt cake), two businessmen with laptops"
I have written in the past about the dearth of third places in Fort Thomas but it is not a Fort Thomas only problem which has led to Panera's phenomenal growth.  Where can you go for a neutral place to meet others for business, or catch up with that friend you met at the Y or while picking up your child from school.  Sometimes inviting someone into your home just isn't comfortable or you want to get out of the house for an hour and clear your head.  Where do you go?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Dan! This blog entry is right on target.. you are exactly right. When oh when will we get a good indpendent coffe shop in town that is convenient for everyone that is out walking? Or restaurant for that matter! I realize that this economic climate has made it doubly hard but look how successful Bellevue and Newport are with small restaurants and shops. When will Ft. Thomas get a clue??

    Thanks for your honesty, it is certainly needed!

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