How NOT to fill an empty gas station building

Your town probably has an empty gas station, maybe a few. How are you going to fill them? 

Here’s the Old Way to do it. I just saw an ad from a development association that said, “Seeking proposals for the operation of a gas sales and/or automotive repair business to be conducted in a former gas station downtown.” 

OK, this might work. They probably got some proposals, and maybe even got the business they asked for. What’s wrong with that? 

Well, they’ve decided what has to go in there. What if gas sales or automotive repair aren’t great businesses in this location anymore? What if there is a better idea out there? How long does it have to sit empty through the proposal process? 

Here’s the Idea Friendly Way. Rather than deciding what will work, we open up to new ideas. We start by looking at what we can use it for right now. It’s downtown, so maybe we can start using it for flags and event banners and signs. Maybe we can use the parking as event overflow space for downtown events. If there are windows or even boarded up windows, we could paint on them. (We talked once before about how you could use an empty gas station for your car show.) 

During that whole time of using it right now, we can post signs there that we’re looking for proposals, even pop-up or temporary proposals. And, yes, go ahead and advertise for proposals. But don’t decide in advance what will work. Be open to some new ideas. #IdeaFriendly

Keep shaping the future of your town,