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Poll: Factors Influencing Where You’ll Shop This Holiday Season?

November 11, 2012 Featured, Retail, Sunday Poll 11 Comments

Consumers have many choices where to shop all year and retailers really try to get you during the holiday season starting on Black Friday:

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally marked the moment retailers moved into profit, or “the black”. Latterly it has been when consumers queued for hours in the cold to dash around shops, fighting over the latest half-price LCD widescreen televisions. (source)

ABOVE: Target at Hampton & Chippewa is one of many options for St. Louis shoppers

For the poll this week I’m asking what factors influence where you’ll shop this holiday season. Below is the list of answers I’ve provided, in alphabetical order, you can pick up to three. The poll is in the right sidebar, mobile  users switch to desktop layout.

  1. Convenience
  2. Customer service
  3. Employment policies
  4. Financing terms
  5. Layaway plan
  6. Owneership
  7. Politics of retailer
  8. Price
  9. Sales/Specials
  10. Selection
  11. Shipping
  12. Unsure, N/A, no answer

Note the answers are displsayed  in a random order in the poll itself.

— Steve Patterson


Completely Different Economies

November 6, 2012 Economy, Featured, Retail 3 Comments

Many people use daily deal sites/apps like Living Social and Groupon and many local versions exist now as well. Businesses run deals in an attempt to attract new customers, but the distribution of deals is .

ABOVE: Recent map of deals on Groupon

Recently looking at a map (above) of Groupon deal locations it become clear to me the central corridor and south city are my only options, no businesses in north city seem to be participating. A notable exception is advertiser Rambles on 14th Street in Old North had  a recent deal on Living Social.

Perhaps the north city merchants realize the cost of a new customer through such sites may simply be too high, not enough bang for the buck. I looked on Ujamaa Deals but didn’t find anything local:

Ujamaa Deals was founded to directly combat the chronic unemployment plaguing the Black community. No community that spends over 90% of its money with businesses that they don’t own will EVER achieve political, social, cultural, or economic equality or independence!

The idea behind Ujamaa Deals is very simple. The real unemployment rate in the Black community is over 20%, with some estimates as high as 30%, and these numbers are not improving. It is a fact that Black-owned business are more likely to hire Black people than non-Black-owned businesses (about 85% more likely actually). Blacks currently spend less than 10% of their money with Black-owned businesses. So it became obvious to us that the most efficient way to combat Black unemployment is to re-direct more Black dollars to Black businesses in order to help them grow, and when they grow they’ll need to hire more people, and those people are likely to be Black. So by spending money with Black-owned businesses we are creating wealth and jobs for ourselves and decreasing our dependence on others for goods and services.

One sentence really stood out to me:

“Blacks currently spend less than 10% of their money with
Black-owned businesses.”

That’s a harsh reality if true! Looking into this issue I ran across an article by Ujamaa Deals co-founder Lawrence Watkins where he discussed the  4 half-truths about black-owned businesses — and why you should still buy black:

  1. Customer service is terrible with black-owned businesses.
  2. The prices of black-owned businesses are higher than at other firms.
  3. Encouraging people to buy black is racist. We need to encourage people to buy American.
  4. There aren’t any black products that I really want to buy.

Obviously much work needs to be done to get a thriving economy is predominantly black areas.   I don’t have any solutions, do you?

— Steve Patterson


Hotel Has Used State-Owned Retail Storefront Rent-Free For A Decade

October 25, 2012 Downtown, Featured, Retail 18 Comments

Last month I posted about a vacant retail space in a state-owned parking garage  (see: Storefront Still Vacant A Decade Later, Tax Dollars Wasted?). Some said perhaps the Renaissance Grand Hotel used the space for storage, but that didn’t seen likely to me. Well, turns out the retail storefront has been used by the hotel for storage rent-free for a decade!

ABOVE: This storefront facing 9th Street has been vacant for years, no leasing information has been posted in the window.

The Missouri Development Finance Board (MDFB) built and owns the garage, the attached ballroom building has separate ownership. The vacant storefront is just to the south of the auto exits from the garage.

ABOVE: Many hotel guests walk from the garage to hotel daily

For a decade now the state has received $0.00 in rent for this space while visitors to St. Louis see a poorly papered over storefront. The MDFB mission is:

To assist infrastructure and economic development projects in Missouri by providing the critical component of the total financing for projects that have a high probability of success, but are not feasible without the Board’s assistance.

How does leaving this storefront vacant for a decade support their mission?  I talked with a hotel employee in the finance department who said if someone wanted to lease the storefront they’d remove their stuff. Retail spaces don’t lease themselves, it takes work to get tenants.

Even if the space was leased to a business for next to nothing it would be better for the city’s image of the city if it was occupied by an active business. — Steve Patterson


Readers Not Keen On Walmart Express

October 24, 2012 Retail 18 Comments

No majority winner in the poll last week but clearly readers don’t want a typical auto-centric Walmart:

Q: Would You Support Or Oppose Walmart Express Stores In The City Of St. Louis?

  1. Oppose, Walmart is a horrible company 66 [41.77%]
  2. Support, with good design regulations 59 [37.34%]
  3. Support, competition is good 23 [14.56%]
  4. Neutral 4 [2.53%]
  5. Unsure/No Opinion 3 [1.9%]
  6. Other: 3 [1.9%]

The three “other” answers were:

  1. Oppose. Letting them in would likely open Pandora’s big-box.
  2. Not any worse than Family Dollar
  3. I’d have to see one first

The problem is so many of our elected officials like new construction, they add the cost to their tally to brag about investment they attracted. Some do get that we need an overhaul of our regulations to force retailers to use their connected urban prototypes rather than doing the least they have to. These retailers have saturated suburban markets and need new locations to grow.

We can demand better from them!

— Steve Patterson


Poll: Would You Support Or Oppose Walmart Express Stores In The City Of St. Louis?

Retail giant Walmart is looking to reverse declining sales by opening smaller, more convenient, stores:

ABOVE: Walmart Express stores will compete with numerous dollar stores like this Family Dollar on Gravois near Bevo Mill.

Express stores are less than one-tenth the size of Wal-Mart supercenters and offer groceries, general merchandise like tools, and pharmacies. Neighborhood Markets are more than twice the size of Express stores and offer perishable food, household supplies and beauty aids as well as a pharmacy. (USAtoday.com)

The new Walmart Express format is just under 15,000 square feet in size, a fraction of Walmart’s other formats:

  •  Supercenter: 185,000 square feet
  • Discount stores: 108,000 square feet
  • Neighborhood Markets: 42,000 square feet (source

Their Neighborhood Markets format is a grocery store, not seen in St. Louis but already dominant in some markets, like Oklahoma City. The Walmart Express will give other retailers strong competition:

Dollar-store chains have expanded quickly in recent years and pose intense competition to Walmart. They open stores closer to customers’ homes, a big advantage in times of high gas prices. According to a Credit Suisse analyst, the average round-trip to a dollar store is six miles vs. 30 miles for a typical Walmart trip. These stores have enjoyed strong revenue growth as they’ve lured more shoppers with bargain prices and wider selections. (source)

My concern is these national retailers with generic store designs will continue buying up every corner they can, making our city less urban every year, rather than more urban.

The poll this week wants your reaction to the idea of Walmart Express stores popping up in our neighborhoods near Family Dollar and Walgreens locations. The poll is the right sidebar, mobile users switch to the full site to vote.

— Steve Patterson




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