Good Golly: Mouth Shut Almost a Year

Posted: April 29, 2017 by NewAlbanist in Incentives, new albany, Restaurant, Retail, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

For almost a full year, gentle reader, you’ve heard nothing from me here. Anything I had to say, Ann alone had to hear it. Poor woman.

mystery

Let’s see. I tossed my hat into the ring for election to a vacant school board seat and lost – badly. I sought to return to my career in journalism and was all but ignored by what passes as our “local” paper. And then, glutton that I am, I offered myself for yet another school board seat that came open – and was roughly treated.

In business, I’ve been the living embodiment of the aphorism that pioneers get slaughtered while settlers prosper. I’ve been at it long enough and seen enough peers disappear that I qualify for the former category. But the scars I’ve earned entitle me to advise the latter.

I’m inspired today by my reading, which has been extensive over the last 12 months, and it turns out that it involves a light chuckle that makes me think of New Albany. It’s told by Tom Corcoran, a confidant of Jimmy Buffett and the creator of the Key West-based Alex Rutledge mysteries.

Key West back then had one more charm: It was empty. “The joke in ’73 and ’74 was the chamber of commerce had someone stationed on the Seven Mile Bridge to call ahead when a car was coming,” Corcoran told me. “Then everyone would race down Duval Street and open their stores.”

 

There’s a not-quite-fake-news piece circulating on Facebook that suggests that New Albany would be great place for a group of gal pals to go spend a few days. Really?

On those infrequent occasions when Ann and I consider a 3-day weekend, we consider shopping, history, education, arts, dining, and perhaps entertainment. Importantly, we don’t want to find ourselves in a ghost town on any of those days.

If we lived 50 or more miles from here, we wouldn’t choose New Albany for a getaway. Sorry. That’s just the truth.

Now, as a pioneer, I talked the talk and for many years also walked the walk when it came to doing my small part to help make New Albany a destination. Standing alone as the only independent business open 7 days a week was, frankly, an exercise in futility, if not masochism.

Make no mistake. As a pioneer, I know how tough it is to stay open on Sundays, too. But if the settlers here are ever to know their town as a true destination, they have to be open when destination visitors want to and can be here. That means Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

I hear you, restaurateurs. Yes, many of you are open on Sundays. How about “Ghost Town Mondays?”

Here’s a modest and interim proposal that, upon utterance, will certainly be declared anathema.

Suppose we had an entity, agency, or government who actually had an interest in promoting New Albany as a destination. What if that “?” offered each independent store in a selected zone a weekly stipend of $50 to be open on Sunday, too? Or offered each independent restaurant in a selected zone the same to be open on Monday, too?

Think that would result in some economic development? And wouldn’t that $50 stay here, too, instead of being exported to Indianapolis or Cincinnati or elsewhere?

That stipend is small, but remember we’re only asking the stores/restaurants to be open. They get to keep all sales and profits generated that day, but $50 toward labor and overhead might be just enough to pay someone to open the door and see who drops in.

A year of incentives might cost $100k to as much as twice that. Or about what the city spends on free concerts. Which of those two choices is more likely to make New Albany a destination? And which of those two choices would essentially keep 100% of the cash in New Albany?

Discuss amongst yourselves. I think I’m becoming verklempt.

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