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Dear Downtown Annapolis Business Owners…

| November 28, 2011, 12:57 PM | 7 Comments

Dear Downtown Annapolis Business Owner,

I have seen all of your pretty ads in The Capital and What’s Up magazine.  I have seen some of your online advertising. I have even checked out your websites. You have some pretty cool stuff.  I imagine to pay for all those pretty ads and websites, (not to mention your rent and utilities) you need to sell quite a bit of merchandise.

Too bad no one can buy it.

We have read countless stories about how much of a struggle it is to be in business downtown. Yeah, we know the City is not the easiest to work with, we know it is a high rent district, but if you want to sell something– for crying out loud–be open! 

Why do you think that the Annapolis Towne Centre and Westfield Annapolis are kicking your butts? Because they are open when people want to shop! Now, I am not suggesting that you do that crazy midnight on Thanksgiving thing, but really, why are so few of you open after 5pm or 6pm?

Newsflash: most of your customers have jobs! Getting downtown is difficult.

So, when someone throws you a bone, why do you turn your nose up at it? Is it easier to just complain and go out of business? Are you still waiting for Annapolis Towne Center to offer you free rent and a build out to move? Are you participating in a vast right wing conspiracy to bring back the decay that used to be downtown Annapolis?

If I had to guess, last night there were over 1000 people roaming the streets of downtown Annapolis full of Christmas cheer. The City had just celebrated the arrival of Santa and the lighting of the City’s Christmas tree–and most of  you were nowhere to be found.

So, what do 1000+ people do downtown when all the lights are off and the doors are locked?  They go to the Annapolis Towne Centre or to Westfield Annapolis.  You are that grumpy old guy on Halloween who turns off the lights and hides from the kids!  You certainly cant think that people are thinking it makes more sense to come shop at 2pm mid week are you?  Well?

I have never seen your sales figures, and at times I question if you have. How much do you sell between 9am and noon during a given month?  It seems to me that most people are going to work during those hours–not shopping. How much do you sell between 6pm and 9pm? Maybe you could give it a try. I bet you sell more!

And Market House–this includes you too.

But as you were parking your car in your driveway last night after selling next to nothing, there were 1000 people milling about the City looking for something to do. Too bad you missed it. Here are some photos of your missed opportunity!

 

 

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Category: Businesses, LIFE IN THE AREA

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  1. Running with Scissors says:

    Retail never has been or ever will be a 9-5 job. With so many people working hour that our mothers and fathers never had to work 9-9 really doesn’t cover it. That’s one of the reasons the internet does so well. The downtown business really needs to be open when folks are there. Hope the boat show provides them with enough to last all year.

  2. Megan says:

    Perhaps the observer would like to come work in my store with me for a bit….Unlike the Baltimore owned and chain stores at The towne center and the mall most DTA stores and staffed strictly by the owners…I dream of having a staff to stay open all night so more people can come in – Un fortunately after a sixty plus hour work week the family and house demands some attention.

  3. John Frenaye says:

    Megan–several stores in ATC moved from DTA and are owner operated. I know the drill on retail–thankless hours and little money. But that is also a choice entrepreneurs choose when they go into business. Unfortunately, retail is not a 9-5 job. It is a B2C business and for the B to survive, they need to appease the C. Certainly the Internet has put a whammy on ALL retail as “stores” are not on desktops 24/7. It is a difficult market to be sure, but it does amaze me when there are people to be had–the stores were all closed.

  4. Running with Scissors says:

    Megan I get your pain, but don’t and I am not saying you are complain when there is no business. Being in a retail business for yourself and wanting to maintain some family time is impossible. I was in a 365 24/7 business for years lost a ton of family time as well as me time. I got out when it began to ruin my life. Being in a retail business on your time schedule is like being a little pregnant, doesn’t happen!

  5. MRE21403 says:

    Part of the problem with downtown is and has been that they focus on the tourists and not on the residents. Until the businesses, and the business association, realize that vibrant downtown comes due to continual visits from residents, and not occasional visits from tourists, it won’t happen. The fuss about summer on city dock? It was because the business owners didn’t want to scare away the tourists. They didn’t take into account that it might bring the residents of Annapolis back into the city on a weekly basis. The stores downtown don’t offer services that appeal to the residents, for the most part. They focus on the higher spending visitors, and it’s a direct correlation to the problems that city is facing there. Create a downtown where residents come – during the day, after work and on the weekends – to do their shopping, eating and errands, and you will have brought back downtown Annapolis.

  6. Rock Toews says:

    My shop, Back Creek Books is at 45 West Street and I stay open until 7 every night except Sunday. I set the closing hour because I too felt that most retail downtown closes too early. After 8 months, I’m seriously considering closing earlier because I do almost zero business after 5. Last Saturday night I decided to stay open until 10, just to see if I was missing something by closing “early” at 7. The extra 3 hours produced exactly 1 sale–and a tiny one at that. Oh there were people all over the first block of West Street here, but it was crystal clear that none of them were here to do any shopping.

    People come downtown at night to two things–eat and drink. Would it be different if more stores were open later? Maybe, but it’s something of a chicken-and-egg question and it would take a lot of extra staffing and a major chang…e in the public mindset about downtown before you’d get a consistently viable retail customer base at night. After my dismal 3 hours on Saturday night I went down to the bottom of Main Street to see what was happening there. It was even more lively than inner West Street. Lots of people around, and every one of the bars/pubs had a line out the door. But there wasn’t a single person in A. L. Goodies. There was 1 person in Hard Bean. Even Kilwin’s only had 1 customer in the door.

    The merchants are closed at night downtown because no one goes there to shop then because the stores are all closed because no one comes there to shop then..

  7. Megan says:

    Exactly Rock…..I have tried EVERYTHING under the sun in my business- open early stay late ect and you eventually just realizes what works and what does not. Im just curious to see if John would have been at the mall at five for a tree lighting ceremony ( which should have been on Sat- most of us are open late) on Sunday eve exactly where he would have gone shopping- cheesecake Factory or CPK? I believe back in the day ( and some still do) alot of retail was closed all DAY on Sunday. I get a mix of tourists and locals and appreciate both and totally agree that we could use some more stores- however alot of stores wont come here bc they wont make money – once again , the chicken or the egg. I grew up downtown and my store is my family business for 36 years so in response to Running- believe me- Im well aware of what sacrifice it takes to run a business . Without people willing to risk it and make it a labor of love what will happen to the retail enviornment of this country? Buy everything on Amazon I suppose……and save the state salex tax ect- I wonder why our schools and roads ect are getting neglected….

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