The number one complaint about small town stores

Thank you for contributing some great ideas of what to do with a building that has lost its roof. Together, we ended up with 19 ideas for roofless buildings. I imagine a lot of people in small towns all over will do some interesting things with their buildings over the next several years, expanding on these ideas. Thank you for helping make that possible. 

You probably either run a retail store or work with a number of local retailers, or at least care about local retailers. Do you know what the number one complaint about local stores is? They aren’t open when people want to shop there. And that sends your local customers off to buy from national chains, stores in other towns or online stores. 

Look at any large retail chain store, and the odds are, they stay open late into the evening and are open all weekend. Look at any local retailer, and odds are they close at 6pm and are open only a short time on weekends. You’ve probably noticed this yourself in an evening, seeing all the local downtown merchants closed and all the people shopping in WalMart. 

New research shows who shops at what time, and it has big implications for local stores. Dr. Scott Dacko, of Warwick Business School, has used sociology, geography, biology, physiology, psychology and marketing to put together across-the-day marketing strategies for retailers. What he found will probably make sense to you. 

Older people, unemployed people, ‘non-time pressured’ people, ‘variety-seekers’ and families with small children are more likely to be morning shoppers. 

Youngsters and young adults, those without time-pressure and those who have no small children tend to shop in the afternoon. 

Busy, time-pressured people shop during evenings. 

Who are “busy, time-pressured people”? Those are employed people. People with jobs and money. People you want as customers. 

Now, that research makes sense to me. But I don’t see more of my local stores opening evenings, catering to those busy, employed people. It takes more than releasing research to create change in small towns. 

Your homework assignment is:

For retailers:
Follow the four suggestions to ease into longer business hours here. And because your evening customers will be different than your daytime customers, learn how to draw customers to your store for evening hours

For everyone else:
Make a point this week of supporting a local business that has longer hours. While you’re there, take time to say, “I appreciate you being open late for busy people.”

Keep making your town better,

PS – Ten resolutions for community leaders and economic developers, and not one of them is about creating immediate jobs. Smart stuff. Seen in the Agurban newsletter by Jack Schultz, which is always full of rural economic development and manufacturing news. Well worth your time.