New Year's Eve. A time for reflection, a time for hope. Much has happened in our little community, some good, some not so good. The continuous leakage of residents unable to live here anymore is a stunning loss to local businesses, as well as to friendships and relationships.Several factors are at play here.
Certainly the demographics have changed, what with the new developers tearing some things down, building others. Perhaps the largest loss that might end up bankrupting the entire village, is the loss of tourist facilities. In pre-development days, only four years ago, we had four RV parks and two motels, one only being four rooms.We now have one motel of four rooms, two RV parks and where we had five eating facilities and three cocktail facilities, we now have one of the later and two of the former.I see some reasons here other than loss of population.
One, many residents don't bother to support the local businesses at all. To them they live in a bedroom community and don't eat out or stop at a local watering hole for a drink or two. I have spoken to many concerned locals and also business people. I'm going to tell you, no punches pulled, what the conclusions are that I have reached. No favorites, just the facts.
One, certainly those that do not drink alcoholic beverages shouldn't and won't be scolded for that. However, that being said, diner out once in a while wouldn't hurt any of you and will foreclose upon those arguments when the business go belly up from your neglect. It is cheaper to buy some of your needs at the Mercantile than driving into town. Use 'em or lose 'em, folks.
The third criticism I have, is to the folks that belong to and support the Bayview Chamber of Commerce. The word commerce is defined as follows: "The exchange of buying and selling commodities and services." As I currently understand the goals of the chamber, none of them include the support and promotion of local business. I have, as I wander through town, received several complaints from local merchants directed toward this neglect. If one wonders why none of the local business owners attend, that's the problem. No, actually, that's just one of the problems. The other, is this town is full of factionalism and the merchants don't want to get embroiled on one side or another of an issue that would alienate half of their customers.
The other side of the coin, is that business owners haven't always done the right things to attract and hold customers. Things like allowing smoke to travel through open doors to the dining areas, sending non-smokers to other places, rude treatment of customers, allowing loud and obnoxious drinkers to continue their loud and obnoxious ways, indifference to strangers who show up, who then,leave feeling unwelcome,never to return. Every time your business sees a new face it is a one time opportunity to make a new friend and to start a long term relationship with that potential customer, Once gone, so is that opportunity. Ignoring strangers is a disease of local watering holes. It's also a recipe for failure. Perhaps that one is the most egregious of all. My background is sales. Purchasers, or clients do business with you only because they want to, not because they have to.
Those dollars in the till are not automatic. Piss a customer off, and those dollars stop. After awhile, so many dollars stop that the business starts to lose money. Even when dissatisfied customers find out that the reasons fore their boycott is no longer present, the smoldering felling of being unwanted or not appreciated lingers on. These things have been repeated to me many times over the last week as the captain's wheel prepares to close.But the Wheel isn't alone.
Business people that take their customers for granted, and in this economy, will disappear. Some already have. We are a dysfunctional community on both sides of the ledger. Now that I have managed to offend without specific targets, everyone in town, let me wish you all a Happy New Year. ... But the only way to make it happy is to pay attention to our community, support and fund it. The businesses need to extract their collective heads from their nether regions and start thinking about how to make new friends and how to keep the old ones.
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