Many years ago I owned and operated a bookstore. It was definitely a Mom and Pop operation with one paid employee. I was in a high traffic shopping center and I made sure I was open when all the other businesses were open. There were times when it was difficult to do so. One of the kids would get sick and I had to scramble to find someone to watch the munchkin until I got home. It was tough at times but I couldn’t afford not to be open and to miss any sale. My shop was open 7 days a week at the very same times that all of the other businesses were open in the shopping center.

I also founded and operated a craftsmen’s cooperative art gallery in downtown Phoenix for 10 years. We were always open the very same hours that all of the other businesses were open. There were times when a craftsperson scheduled to man the gallery could not do so. We were always juggling the artists’ schedules to make sure the gallery was always open.

Do you think the owners of Tanger Outlet allow their tenants to be open when it is convenient to the business owner? Not on your life. One part of Tanger Outlet’s success is the consistency of hours when all of its tenants are consistently open for business.

Apparently this is not the mindset of some downtown Glendale merchants. One time when I had out-of-town company I decided to take my guests to a particular downtown restaurant only to discover, much to my chagrin, it was not open. Now this did not occur on an odd or exotic day. It was a regular Monday – Friday workday and in the middle of the day…not even at night. Just one of the commitments of any shop or business owner (even a Mom and Pop business) is to offer the public consistent and regular hours of operation generally expected by the public.  

As a councilmember on and off since 1992 I have seen the many city efforts to help foster and maintain a viable downtown Glendale merchants’ association. At one time former Councilmember Phil Lieberman and I even wrote a charter for such an association. Every effort has been a failure.

In all of those years I have seen some downtown merchants who are quick to complain and to demand that the city do for them what they are unwilling to do for themselves. Recently I heard this anecdote. A group of citizen volunteers were donating their time and energy to pick up trash on the sidewalks in downtown. One of the business owners had the temerity to come out of the store to point out some trash and to tell the volunteer that he/she had missed picking it up. Was the business owner’s arm broken that day? What about a simple thank you directed to that volunteer for the effort?

What downtown Glendale needs most desperately is their very own, independent merchants’ association — an association that has created and passed its own mutual charter and that requires dues so that everyone has some skin in the game. It needs an association where all of the members agree to set some minimum and consistent hours when all will commit to being open.

I have seen downtown merchants who set their business hours whenever it is convenient for them. There is nothing worse that will turn a potential customer away, never to return. I have heard some of the business owners say why be open when there is no traffic? I beg to differ. There is always some foot traffic and these businesses need to be open consistently to capture those potential sales. The overhead remains generally the same whether a business is open 5 days a month or 30 days a month. The rent is the same every month.

It should be an association that establishes its very own authority in order to establish the credibility needed to be able to interact with the city for each party’s mutual benefit. As an association it needs to be able to create its own downtown mini-events without constantly relying on the city to establish events for them. It needs the ability to identify common problems and craft solutions to deal with them establishing fair and consistent goals for everyone with no favor. It should encourage collaboration and communication between all.

I am optimistic. There are downtown merchants who realize that it’s time to take action in their own self interest. They have recognized that the downtown is broken and not as robust as it could be.  They are willing. The question is…will their peers join them?

 Downtown merchants… it’s time to join the 21st century. It’s time for your own unique brand of creativity, innovation and energy to help Glendale’s downtown, your downtown succeed. It’s time for a downtown Glendale merchant‘s association…by, of and for downtown merchants.

© Joyce Clark, 2017          


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