|This nondescript building is home to the Cliffs at LIC, a 20,000 sf |
facility that attracts hundreds of climbers a day.
Nearby businesses are starting to cater to these customers.
- Merchants communicated with one another and coordinated hours in a way that benefited both. The owner of Cliffs at LIC personally approached Josh Bowen, the owner of John Brown's Smokehouse to tell him that his patrons, numbering about 500 on a typical weeknight, were often leaving their climbing sessions hungry and with no place to go. It is great that is happened in this community organically. What this speaks to is the need to create opportunities for merchants to communicate with one another on a regular basis to identify and act upon synergies. Do your merchants have a venue to do this? We worked in a community many years ago where the local restaurants and local theater were working at cross-purposes. The restaurateurs often didn't know when there was a show going on - and subsequently were understaffed and slammed with customers on nights when they didn't expect it. As a result, customers were often late for their shows. Do you think many people came back to recreate this harrowing experience? I think not. In this community, it became clear how important is was to create simple communication tools - monthly meetings of a newly formed hospitality committee (managed and staffed by the local Business Improvement District) and an on-line event calendar distributed via email to said hospitality committee were all ways to improve communication among businesses which in turn improved the experience for customers. Ultimately some of this comes down to the need to establish and cultivate administrative capacity to make sure these conversations happen, and that they happen frequently enough to troubleshoot issues that come up.
- The opportunity to build on the 'rock-climbing" retail micro-climate that is developing. By understanding what this niche market wants and needs, local business owners can capitalize on the spending potential of climbers. Whether this be food after a good session, or craft-beer, or coffee or a store selling climbing gear...all of these businesses can begin to form an ecosystem that is driven by the destination driver - in this case the gym.
- The need to invest in experiential opportunities. I talk alot about the need to incorporate both impulse and ambient entertainment in our downtown environments. Think great public spaces that engage the user (one of my recent favorites is Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit. Foosball, performers, music, basketball) these are all things that make going downtown more than just about buying goods.
|A foosball table at Campus Martius Park in|
Downtown Detroit is a fun diversion that activates place.
A rock-climbing gym is admittedly not for every community - but the concept of identifying a a unique offering or experience that drives pedestrian traffic, which in turn enhances the retail sales of nearby businesses, is a basic retail lesson for all of us.