Sunday, September 05, 2010

And it was done.

Breakfast at the Red Eye, pedaled some thirteen+ miles, and lunch at the Brew Pub, (honey-smoked turkey, applewood bacon, and brie on sourdough, washed down with a pint of the house IPA...)

The weather is positively gorgeous: Low 70s, low humidity, severe clear, not a cloud in the sky. The kind of day that just makes you grin like an idiot and wave at complete strangers.

There are two bicycle shops right on the Monon. Only one is open on Sunday. Does this make sense to anyone?

Look, the people who can afford to buy stuff in your shop probably work for a living. When do most people work? That's right, Monday through Friday. This means that they are out riding their bikes on the busiest bike trail in the city on what days? That's right, Saturday and Sunday.

So for half of the heaviest traffic days on the Monon Trail, (which runs within 100' of your door, remember,) you are closed.

Are you attempting to cater to the unemployed? Because that doesn't strike me as the soundest of business models.


Matt G said...

I've always wondered the same thing, about any "hobby shop." Brewing supply shops, gun stores, public ranges-- I've seen them all closed on Sundays.

krazmo said...

Bike races normally happen on Sunday. Shop employees and owners are frequently enthusiastic participants and sponsors of bike racing. Amateur racers buy a lot of gear. QED.

Bruce H. said...

Maybe they're Christians. Still a few around.

Brigid said...

When I bought the "it cost as much as a Yogo" riding mower, I went to the place in Browntown that sold such things. Saturday afternoon 2:30. Closed. I spent a couple thousand dollars at the big mega chain store instead of the local business.

I'll be back to IN mid September I hope. Time to go do breakfast!

Robert said...

We close our business on Sunday - to the endless consternation of many of our customers, as some of them seem to feel we should be available to them 24/7/365. The problem with small businesses is that they are ultimately run by real people. People who have lives too, and since polite society tends to gather and do things on those two particular days of the week, anyone having a business and also hoping have some sort of normal life in broader society needs to do it on at least one of those days. It's not possible to take your kids to the park on Tuesday (for instance), as they are in school. Whatever business is lost being closed on the weekends is just the price owners have to pay for trying to have a life too.

Ancient Woodsman said...

Closing on any particular day the boss decides is the soundest business model for sanity & humanity. One day a week that everyone else has off is best, meaning yes, at least Sunday if not Saturday or half of Saturday. Slaves to the dollar will be open 24/7.

Unless you have a dying desire to cater to the impatient materialistic "gimme, gimme, Iwants" then you can run your business any time you chose.

David said...

My father opened his hobby shop at 7 AM on Saturday and stayed open until 7 PM, on Sunday mornings he opened at 7 AM and closed it at noon. He didn't open again until 8 AM Tuesday morning. We took turns opening and running the shop on Sunday mornings so the other one could go to church with the family.

He did this because the local RC plane club and the rocketry club did most of their flying early on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Some of the biggest sales I made were to angry/despondent customers who wandered in at 9AM Sunday morning with a destroyed RC plane in their hands.

Normal business hours were Tuesdays - Friday 8 AM to 8 PM. Our busiest times were daily from 11AM to 1PM, and 4PM to 7PM. We never closed during those hours. If Dad had to close up for a while it was never during those times.

DirtCrashr said...

All the dirtbike shops I know are closed Sunday and Monday - race on Sunday recover on Monday. Sunday is their Saturday and Monday is their Sunday.

karrde said...

The biggest (and best, and last remaining within reasonable distance from me) motorcycle shop is closed on Sunday.

They openly say, on every listing of their hours, that they are "out riding" on Sunday.

Of course, they have a usable web page, and it will accept orders for parts any time of the day and night.

Mark Alger said...

As Tom Peters put it years ago, "God forbid we should be around when the customers are."


Tam said...

Robert and Ancient Woodsman,

Sorry, but I've toiled in the retail salt mines for pretty much my entire adult life. That excuse cuts no ice with me; I've turned off the alarm at 1100 hrs on a Sunday morning way too many times to buy it.

If I'm in business to make money, my customers are my boss; if I'm not open when they are free to spend money, then I might as well not be open at all.

Anonymous said...

"The problem with small businesses is that they are ultimately run by real people."

I keep reading about the "horrible" economy and how real people are suffering, but the truth is that no one wants to work.

Everyone wants a check, not a job and wants the government to fix their problem.


Shootin' Buddy

Jeff the Baptist said...

"If I'm in business to make money, my customers are my boss; if I'm not open when they are free to spend money, then I might as well not be open at all."

No offense, but I'm betting those owners are in business to do more than earn cash. They're doing it because they either love whatever they sell (in which case they go riding on Sunday) or to support their family (in which case it makes no sense for them to spend all their time at work). They're not idiots, they're making an intelligent business assessment you don't happen to agree with.

If you run a good shop with accessible hours for a reasonable portion of the week, people will still spend their money with you. You lose some business being closed on Sundays, but not that much. You will also be able to keep your staff happier and therefore maintain a higher quality of employee.

Ancient Woodsman said...

As I said, "slaves to the dollar"

Not meant to be an insult, just an observation.

And I have toiled in retail as well and longer, parents built a farm supply - think Tractor Supply only for real farmers - and you can guess what that means in terms of hours.

You want sympathy for your time in the salt mines? Call me when you can say you've worked for a dollar an hour through your high school years - just because it was an a) family business, and b) agricultural, so your parents could get away with it according to the labor laws.

The old adage is that the customer is always right. The customer is never the boss. There's a big difference, and if you don't know what it is...well, this is your blog, so enjoy it. You are the boss here.

reflectoscope said...

If I get to the point where I can set my own working hours, I'd take Saturdays and Wednesdays off; Saturday for actual off-time and Wednesday to get stuff done when everything that matters is open. I'd vote with my wallet but most of the places around here that only work weekdays are monopolies.


Les Jones said...

Meh. My parents ran a family business with half a dozen employees including them for four decades.

My parents worked five days a week and half a day on Saturday. They were slackers because they wouldn't work another half day a week or pay someone else to do so?

I disagree. I think my parents knew their business and their customers better than you.

Anonymous said...

"Look, the people who can afford to buy stuff in your shop probably work for a living. When do most people work? That's right, Monday through Friday."

Not one of your sharper applications of logic and reason, as I guess that applies to most every business and most every customer; should every single business be open seven days?

The most successful, if not the "soundest" retail business model would have to be if independent business wants to survive, looks like 24/7/365 is the only route, yes? Maybe hire twenty know-nothing part-timers at the minimum wage to replace the four full-time knowledgeable employees who make you want to patronize them in the first place? I guess when the big-box is all that's left and you have a derailleur problem that needs an experienced eye, you can see what the blue-shirted booby in the Chinese bike department there at the SuperCenter can do for you.

This is wrong in so many ways that it really makes me sick...and I'm glad my retail career is about done so I won't have to face the sad fact of conformity or death.


Sevesteen said...

Most of the independent shops around here are either antiques that started 30+ years ago, or out of business in less than 2 years. Hardly any independent shops are open on Sunday--but the one exception is also the one exception to the out of business in 2 years rule.

Will said...

"twenty know-nothing part-timers at the minimum wage to replace the four full-time knowledgeable employees who make you want to patronize them in the first place?"

THIS is probably the biggest problem small business has. Or just trying to find quality employees to work part-time on weekends, who won't rip you off without your supervision on site.

Bike shops sometimes stay open on the weekend, but not having a mechanic on hand to fix a simple problem just aggravates the hell out of customers. You can sell them the parts, or a new bike, but not being able to replace that bad seal or gasket, or install bars and controls or a replacement wheel after their Saturday afternoon endo pisses them off so much they will take the bike to your competitor on Monday or Tuesday just in spite.
The years I worked bike shops, I never had two days off in a row, at least not during riding season.

Vinnie said...

Sorry, I grew up in a "work to live don't live to work" environment. My father took a 50% pay cut so he could take me to work with him from about the age of 7 on( at least sometimes). He also instilled values like "Make the circus run even if it takes all the lard in the kitchen" and "It is a shitty job but somebody has to do it, might as well be you"(Hint if you have that attitude today it WILL be you EVERY TIME, and you will be too valuable to promote)

Tam said...

Ancient Woodsman,

"As I said, "slaves to the dollar"

Not meant to be an insult, just an observation.

Some people really aren't in business to make money; I understand that.

"You want sympathy for your time in the salt mines?"

I'm not looking for sympathy, I'm just explaining my point of view, which apparently elicits very heated replies from some folks.

Don't worry, I'm sure I'll accidentally piss of someone different tomorrow. ;)

Tam said...


Sounds to me like you've made a pretty convenient excuse to yourself for being closed on Sundays for lo these many years, and will attack anybody who questions that excuse by calling them ignorant WalMart drones or whatever.

A lot of successful "hobby businesses" that I know of that were open 6 days/week picked Monday as their day to be closed, since the customers were at work then, anyway.

And of course there's no reason any business has to be open on Sundays, but it makes sense in certain situations:

Random Bike Shop? Not necessarily. Bike Shop Next To Monon? Being closed on Sundays is just setting money on fire.

Random Gun Shop? Not necessarily. Gun Shop With Indoor Range? That's when people go shoot.

If you want a lot of time off in the summer, don't open an amusement park.

If you've been in business all these years for YOUR comfort, pleasure, and convenience, rather than that of your customer, then you have missed the entire point of the exercise.

When I was young, I went with my dad to work, and there was a sign behind the sales counter in my dad's handwriting that said "There will be no chairs or stools behind the counters. Our customers are our guests. If our guests are standing, we are standing." Maybe I just took it too much to heart.

Anonymous said...

Tam, sounds like you attack anyone who disagrees by questioning their motives. And show me where I called anyone anything.

Yes, I do fathom that your original post applied to specialty businesses in specialty situations, but the broad brush with which you painted all business in your original post was not limited to that...not that it matters much considering the following.

If a business is open all of the time it is to maximize profit; the convenience of their customers is merely a means to that end. But there are better and more important means that get swept aside in the world of predatory megastores...little things like knowledge, courtesy, and value (as opposed to price). Your Daddy's old-school customer service policies could not mean less to the pimple-faced retard or the surly retirees who pull down the minimum for 20 hours a week, and more importantly to the company itself as long as you queue up to save a buck and pad their volume.

The wrongness making me ill that I alluded to is this: those things matter less and less as the consumer is conditioned to price alone, and the biker or shooter who expects and receives the one-on-one attention and expertise that is the forte of the independent business will quite happily use it to peruse and purchase what is recommended by Mr. Independent right down the road at Megastore to save less than the cost of the gas to drive from the former to the latter.

Increasingly, the primary advantage of self-employment which is (was) to set one's own policies so as to offer superior service, product and competent knowledge and advice, has become the petard by which they are hoist as their ultimate goal and raison d'ĂȘtre -profit - slips steadily away, sacrificed on the altar of false but brilliantly marketed economy.

Oh, and Mondays were historically my second-busiest day of the week (That was a fast edit; I gotta remember to always check for that before responding).


Tam said...

As an aside, CCA is right across the interstate from a super WalMart and a Gander Mountain.

Les Jones said...

Tam, I'm checking back in this morning to make sure I didn't go overboard. I was a little concerned I was grumpikins last night and was too harsh, but re-reading it I think my tone was about right, and my opinion hasn't changed.

I agree with Will's ditto about small businesses sometimes not having enough qualified employees to turn the shop floor over to someone outside the family. Small mistakes pile up fast. If you have to write the checks to cover someone else's mistakes you don't want there to be many of them.

Since we're using CCA as an example, I've got a question. I know the retail counter and range are open on Sundays, but what about the gunsmith shop? I honestly don't know whether they're open, but if not that would be a fine example of how a small operation - a business unit within the larger business - might not be able to justify staying open seven days a week.

Anonymous said...

I typically just lurk and leave the posting the the regulars, but I have to chime in on Tam's side this time around. I don't get weekdays off... ever. Sometimes I have to work weekends too, but if I'm going to have a day off that's when it will be. My errands frequently find me at wally world or some equally mega-store scene simply because NO ONE is ever open when I get a day off.

A good example of this is that I have not shipped a package with the US postal service in years. However, the UPS store here is open on saturdays and sundays and I ship all my packages with them even though many times it is more expensive. That's a good business model, and they get my business, even if I would prefer to go through the postal service.

Will said...

I should point out that it use to be traditional (possibly because it was illegal to be open) for most businesses to be closed on Sunday. Think they were called Blue Laws? not sure. That's how it was when I was a kid. Pretty sure the same for holidays. That was PA, in the 50-60's. No idea how wide spread it was, but I know PA was not the only state like that. Those laws were gone in the Philly area by the late 60's.

I suspect that the increasing income tax rates (and other taxes) that drove the wives into the job market had some effect on the increasing business open hours and repeal of those laws against being open on Sunday.