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Archive for Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Downtown Lawrence retailers split on extending hours

May 11, 2011

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The director of Downtown Lawrence Inc. said when it comes to downtown stores there is a clear perception among shoppers — later would be greater.

“The single biggest issue I hear about from the public is store hours,” said Cathy Hamilton, director of Downtown Lawrence Inc. “Nobody thinks we’re open long enough. Let’s put it that way.”

Downtown Lawrence leaders hosted a Tuesday afternoon meeting for about 25 downtown merchants to discuss the idea of how to better accommodate Lawrence residents who have trouble making it to downtown during store hours.

Merchants, though, were split on whether later hours were the answer.

“I can tell you that Thursday nights have become a less and less significant part of our business,” Earl Reineman of Weaver’s Department Store said of the later hours kept by the store one night per week. “That gives us pause when considering more nights.”

But other retailers said they think downtown is missing out on sales by not having more stores open until at least 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. on most nights.

Misty Curry, a manager with Kansas Sampler, said her store has stayed open until 9 p.m. since it opened one year ago. She said for the store’s first six months of business sales after 6 p.m. accounted for only about 10 percent of its totals. But now, sales after 6 p.m. account for about 33 percent of revenues.

“We are finally getting people to understand that we’re open late,” Curry said. “I think it would be even better if more stores were open.”

Downtown Lawrence Inc. leaders asked the merchants in attendance to consider staying open later at least three nights per week — Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Merchants were asked to consider staying open until 7 p.m. or 8 p.m.

“I think most people are willing to consider some changes in the hours, an extension of some kind,” Hamilton said.

But Hamilton said the next step will be for Downtown Lawrence Inc. to send out more information to all its members and then poll merchants about their willingness to change hours.

Downtown Lawrence Inc. can ask members to change their hours but doesn’t have any ability to force members to maintain certain hours.

“I think there is a definite perception out there that we need to combat,” Hamilton said. “I just want to hear if there is anything we can do about it.”

Comments

phenommenom 3 years, 8 months ago

It would be nice to have the stores open longer during the summer months. Sundays atleast till 7 pm.

Kookamooka 3 years, 8 months ago

Not gonna happen. There are some very stubborn old geezer shop keepers downtown. They have their principals. If they give us EVIL customers what we want, we'll win the battle. Unfortunately, they can't see how it can help them stay in business. Maybe they don't need our business at all. I want a list of the merchants with who don't want to stay open. I'm just curious who they are.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 8 months ago

Just curious, have you ever owned a retail business?

MarcoPogo 3 years, 8 months ago

Grab yourself a Big Chief tablet and a pen, head downtown after whatever hour you see fit, and make yourself a list of the stores that are closed. Then you can avoid those stores on principle...and you'll have gotten out of the house and enjoyed the weather!

George_Braziller 3 years, 8 months ago

Would you perhaps be talking about an owner of a certain hardware store?

It's only two blocks from my house but I drive three miles to another one just so I don't have to deal with his passive hostility/indifference.

The last time I was there I tried to make a purchase and walked up to the cash register. He was sitting eight feet away reading the newspaper, looked over the top of the paper at me, turned the page and went back to his reading. Message received.

JustNoticed 3 years, 8 months ago

Ah ha! So that's what's wrong with education today. Pricipals are being held by geezer shopkeepers.

Fred Mertz 3 years, 8 months ago

Of course whether to stay open late is a business decision that only the store owner can make, but I'd encourage them to at least stay open late on nights where there are special events like Final Fridays happening.

somedude20 3 years, 8 months ago

If the stores do not stay open late it will be Obama's fault. Don't think for one second that Nancy Pelosi did not have a hand in this. Gooble gooble, it is the left's fault they are killing me with hand lotion and peanuts...going back to my gin now

Richard Payton 3 years, 8 months ago

Will the Journal World keep their staff for longer hours in the lobby so we can buy a paper at the counter?

Getaroom 3 years, 8 months ago

So MJ, are you the new economic advisor for all of the downtown businesses? It seems you have inside accounting information on every downtown business. Maybe you just want to blow off some steam about how much you love downtown Lawrence - right? That is some mighty fine patriotism you have going there. Walmart awaits your itchy wallet late night meanderings around town. Perhaps you would like to share with all LJW bloggers some of the speciality items you were hoping to acquire after 5-6 pm. A new drum, extended hours "free" WiFi, tattoo/piercing, guitar strings, skateboard shoes, ball cap, KU memorabilia, dress pants, antiques, hardware, tuna casserole martini, or a hair cut perhaps? There is food and drink aplenty after retail hours most evenings. Maybe you need to open up your very own highly profitable depression/recession era retail downtown business that is open until midnight. Let us know how it goes for you grumbly MJ Browne and which of the "cheap" retail store fronts do you want to rent by the way? I hear Doug Compton has a spot just waiting for you with a 10 hr meter reserved for you. I want to see a list of the stores you promise to spend money in, how much you will invest, and on which nights you will show up after 6:00 pm. That ought to do just fine for starters. Better yet just get yourself one of those shiny new off-shore drilling rigs, I hear they are ultra profitable and operate 24/7! Your tax dollars at work.

Betty Bartholomew 3 years, 8 months ago

Stop to consider:

Most people work until 5pm. If they have kids, they have to pick them up from school or daycare. Then make their way through 5:00 traffic to get downtown, hopefully find parking, then walk to the store(s) they want to go to. They might make it there before the store closes at 6:00, or they might not. If they do, they won't have much time to look around, so hopefully they know what they're going in for and where exactly in the store it is located.

How can this possibly be a good business model for long term growth? Most people don't want to rush through their shopping like that, they'd rather go to stores with hours that fit their shopping schedules. Most stores downtown do not fit those schedules, nor do they offer much of anything that people would be willing to leave work in the middle of the day to obtain.

What the merchants opposed to extended hours seem to fail to understand is that shopping culture requires time to browse. If there's no time to browse your store, people aren't going to shop there. They're going to go to Walmart, or Target, or Kohl's, or any of the other stores downtown shop owners like to blame for them not getting any business.

notanota 3 years, 8 months ago

Ding, ding, ding!

I don't know why stores don't open later and stay open until later. They have limited manpower, but do they really get enough wee hours of the early morning business to justify the evening business they miss when shoppers head to the big box stores that are open when they're ready to shop?

funkdog1 3 years, 8 months ago

YES! I've been saying this for years. You can't tell me that these businesses are getting more business on a weekday morning from 9 or 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. than they would on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

If you can't afford to staff your business longer hours, then cut some of those hours from the mornings during the week.

It's also highly aggrivating that most of downtown doesn't open until noon on Sundays. People who head downtown to eat breakfast on Sunday mornings at Wheatfields, Mirth, Milton's, the Eldridge, Tellers, and Macelis just wander downtown aimlessly after breakfast looking in store windows that are CLOSED. It's so DUMB.

notanota 3 years, 8 months ago

I'm not a bruncher, so the Sunday hours don't bother me, but it is a good point.
There have been many MANY times that I would have shopped downtown if the store had simply been open a little longer.

Kookamooka 3 years, 8 months ago

Why as a matter of fact I do need some new drums and guitar strings. Thanks for reminding me.

Liberty275 3 years, 8 months ago

Keep them open 24 hours a day and I'll still shop at Best Buy, Pier One/World Market, Home Depot and malls in KC and Topeka. Downtown Lawrence is just an annoyance you go through on your way to I70.

Bud Stagg 3 years, 8 months ago

I heard a motivational speaker talking about auto repair shops, he said "Heaven forbid you should be open late or on saturdays when the customers can easily make it to your shop."

Richard Heckler 3 years, 8 months ago

Lawrence does not get moving until after 11 AM so it seems.

Retailers why open before 11 AM? Monday thru Friday

Saturday people seem to begin stirring a bit earlier.

Retailers maybe think about 8 PM closing?

Richard Heckler 3 years, 8 months ago

Downtown has a ton of walk by potential shoppers.

Hey Comm Bob Schumm,

How about replacing Bay Leaf with Function Junction if they are interested? They are local. http://www.functionjunction.com/

gl0ck0wn3r 3 years, 8 months ago

Merill with his SimCity style of management.

commuter 3 years, 8 months ago

Don't you love how Merrill thinks he knows everything but actually does nothing? If he actually acted on what he says, he may actually make some good money.... Maybe he should go and open a store downtown!!! Oh wait I forgot, he only wants to tell people what to do, but he does not want to do anything.

chihuahua2 3 years, 8 months ago

It would be awesome!! They already get alot of buisness during their hours now just imagine what they would get if they were open longer!!! Especialy in the spring and summer time!!! Maybe they could extend their hours in the spring and summer and have normal hours in the fall and winter!! Alot of places do that!!

Kelly Corcoran 3 years, 8 months ago

I run Love Garden, and we stay open til 9pm every night, and 7pm on Sundays. Its worth it. Then again, it fits our clientele.

George_Braziller 3 years, 8 months ago

I never knew you were open that late. There are so many different opening and closing times (not to mention days of the week) businesses downtown are open it's impossible as a shopper to keep them all straight.

Many a time I thought a store opened at 10:00 only to arrive and discover I was an hour early. Or, thought a store closed at 6:00 and at 5:15 found it closed at 5:00.

It would be fantastic if the Downtown Lawrence website had a list of "what's open now." I think that would be a good first step to alleviate some shopper frustrations.

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

The Marketplace listings include that information.

Debra Schmidt 3 years, 8 months ago

Competiton is the best Rx in this case. The more stores that have later hours - the more early closers will realize they are missing a piece of the pie. Let free enterprise work . . . Anyone remember when food markets were closed on Sundays and holidays? Let the free market do the talking.

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