Home » Retail » Recent Articles:

9th Street Storefront Being Emptied

December 28, 2012 Downtown, Featured, Retail 3 Comments

Starting to see some positive action on the vacant storefront I first posted about in September (Storefront Still Vacant A Decade Later, Tax Dollars Wasted?) and again in October (Hotel Has Used State-Owned Retail Storefront Rent-Free For A Decade).

ABOVE: December 18th the doors were opened
ABOVE: December 18th the doors were opened
ABOVE: Peaked in, very full of stuff
ABOVE: I peaked in, very full of stuff
ABOVE: A few days later on December 21st I went by again and saw a truck out front
ABOVE: A few days later on December 21st I went by again and saw a truck out front
ABOVE: This time the space was nearly empty.
ABOVE: This time the space was nearly empty.

Looks like the space is being readied to lease to a retail tenant, after a decade of rent-free use as storage.  Maybe it won’t get leased right away or it’ll get leased and the first tenant will fail, but we have to try.

Putting up paper over storefront windows for a decade in a city that needs more sidewalk activity is just destructive. To do it in a state-owned building built by an agency whose mission it is to foster development is baffling.

— Steve Patterson


Idea: Retail Retrofit To AT&T’s Parking Garage

Today parking garages are built with retail on the first floor so they are have potential activity at the sidewalk level. Unfortunately, we still have many garages built in earlier times when no provisions were made for anything other than the storage of cars. Some, like the 1960s stadium garages, can’t easily be retrofitted, see Fixes For Stadium West, Stadium East.  The AT&T parking garage at 1101 Chestnut, built in 1985, can be retrofitted with retail.

ABOVE: The main corner of the AT&T parking garage at 11th & Chestnut St.

Before anyone says something like ‘the city has bigger problems for its limited resources’ let me state this post is about trying to repair one small section our city by showing a way a corporate citizen can help out by modifying their private property . Why would they? Because they like to be seen as a good corporate citizen.

Any need?

Yes, anyone that has ever had jury duty across the street knows finding a place for lunch isn’t too easy close by. Saint Louis University Law School will soon be located in the building adjacent to the west end of the garage.

ABOVE: Renovation work on SLU’s new Law School building is underway (left) and the garage is to the right.
ABOVE: The north face of the garage on Pine St could be active with storefronts
ABOVE: The formed concrete panels at the sidewalk level do not appear to be structural elements.

This wouldn’t require 100% of the ground floor, although most of the south side facing Chestnut would be a good concentration facing the courthouse.  The small area facing 11th and the long area facing Pine could be done later as demand increases.

Again, I’m not advocating public monies be spent on this effort. I also don’t think AT&T is going to start work on implementing this idea right away, or ever.  It’s an idea I thought I’d stare because I think it could have a positive impact on the activity level in the area.

— Steve Patterson


Readers: Price, Convenience, Selection Are Shopping Influencers

November 21, 2012 Featured, Retail 1 Comment

In the poll last week readers picked price as their top factor in deciding there to shop this holiday season.  Early in the week convenience was the top answer but it ended up just one vote behind price.

ABOVE: Brothers Randy (L) and Jeff Vines (R) of STL-Style on Cherokee at Compton.

Q: Factors influencing where you’ll shop this holiday season (pick up to 3)

  1. Price 41 [21.24%]
  2. Convenience 40 [20.73%]
  3. Selection 27 [13.99%]
  4. Sales/Specials 24 [12.44%]
  5. Shipping 14 [7.25%]
  6. Customer service 12 [6.22%]
  7. Ownership 9 [4.66%]
  8. Politics of retailer 8 [4.15%]
  9. Other: 8 [4.15%]
  10. Employment policies 6 [3.11%]
  11. Unsure, N/A, no answer 3 [1.55%]
  12. Layaway plan 1 [0.52%]
  13. Financing terms 0 [0%]

Interesting results, a decade ago I doubt shipping would’ve gotten any votes.

  1. Patronize local shops in my neighborhood
  2.  Within the St. Louis City boundaries!
  3. Image / attitude
  4. Locally Owned / Small Business
  5. local
  6. shop the city!
  7. Cleanliness of store and patrons
  8. Parking 😉

— Steve Patterson


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