If You Don't Promote, Your Business Won't Float
No apologies at all to Johnnie Cochran.
Yesterday, while waiting for a kid to finish a rehearsal, I swung by Trolley Square just to see what was going on there these days. It was about 0915, and I was surprised to find the parking lots and new garage already pretty full. I walked inside and discovered that Trolley had leased a space to the Sundance Film Festival for ticket sales and that there were several hundred people in line waiting for the ticket office to open at 1000. I thought, "This is a great idea by Trolley. Sundance audience, relatively hip, some discretionary income. Exactly the target market for Trolley-style shops. And a captive audience to boot, with nothing to do but stand around until the ticket office opens."
And then I noticed that I wasn't seeing any shops open. I walked through the whole place. Not a single shop was open. No one was working the lines, handing out fliers or coupons or samples, offering to hold a place in line while someone shopped, taking food orders and bringing them back. Nothing. All those customers, and no one approaching them.
First, to Trolley Square management: Kudos, you did your job. You brought in a mass of potential customers the likes of which has rarely been seen around that tomb. And you'll be bringing those crowds in all week. It isn't your fault if your tenants aren't taking advantage. When they come whining to you for concessions because they aren't getting enough traffic, you should rub their noses in the photos and videos you're taking of this event. Why should you give concessions to businesses that act like they're hobbies?
Second, to Trolley Square tenants: You blew it, and you'll probably blow it all week. Yes, you opened at 1000, but so what? Those customers had already been there for an hour with nothing to do but wait. They didn't even have a moving line to keep up with. They were just standing there. And you were nowhere. You weren't visiting with potential customers, you weren't telling them about your inventory and specials, you weren't learning about their shopping habits and needs, you weren't getting their contacts for your email list, you weren't having them like your Facebook page. You were a no-show. I know you'll whine about lack of traffic all Summer, but it's really your own fault.
Third, to everybody: I've seen grundles of small businesses that acted either like they were hobbies or they had a divine right to customers. Both attitudes are fast tracks for the Fail Train. Hobbies are not designed to make money; they need to stay in your garage. And the last folks who claimed a divine right to something got their heads lopped off. The only people who don't have to work for money are the ones who were born with it. Your business is there to make money, and that requires work, your work. If you don't bring it, don't expect success.