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Thread: Uses/businesses that are often naively propsed, but never last

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Uses/businesses that are often naively propsed, but never last

    I received a request from a site selector recently for space for a teen club.

    A teen club, in my experience, is one of those businesses/uses that people constantly propose, but unfortunately don't realise never last

    What other type of businesses/uses are always proposed by the naive, and always, always fail?
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    Somebody actually opened one of those clubs in a neighboring town and decided to call it "Club Xtreme". It was doomed to fail from the beginning just because of the name.

    Being more directly involved in economic development and managing several incentive programs, I get all kinds contacting me looking for "free money", etc. for their proposed businesses. Most of them have no capital invested, no idea where they want to or should locate, no business plan, no projected cash flows, nothing. Then you have those that manage to open a business in a very marginal location and then expect to succeed with no advertising, makeshift signange that looks like it was hand drawn by a 3rd grader, and a completely unprofessional appearance. They never last more than 6 months. Most common of these types of businesses tend to be consignment shops, "catering" businesses, and used car lots.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Thirding the teen clubs. They seem to fail because they're based on an adult's idea of what teenagers like and are drawn to. Rygor's example of Club Xtreme is a perfect example. In the 1980s, we would have thought "Club Radical" was probably lame, too.

    In my experience, a lot of hobby businesses and the Whatever and Stuff/Something and Things businesses found in rural areas lead short lives. Hobby businesses seem to do somewhat better in urban areas, where there are areas with the right synergy to better support such businesses, and the proprietors are wealthier. One of the things I wrote in that thread:

    "Hobby businesses" are the bane of many small towns trying to revitalize their main streets, because of their irregular hours, lack of uniqueness and limited appeal. One never knows when "Grandma's Antiques" or "Patti Lou's Consignment Store" will be open, and just about every small town in Ohio seemed to be filled with the same types of businesses. How different can all the hundreds of antique and consignment stores be? At least in the breederhoods, the hobby businessess have regular hours, and they're unique.
    In The Town Next Door down in Florida, the oddball redneck businesses that sell a combination of unrelated items; e.g trampolines, barbecues and portable buildings, seemed to do okay. My guess: low overhead, and a constantly changing focus to find the right combination of what will sell. "Well, them dang ol' trampolines ain't doing well this month, so I'm gonna' pull 'em out an' move in some big 'ol wood boilers." They're not idealistic; they just want to sell some dang 'ol something and make money, unlike some Northwest Denver Trixie who only wants to sell adorable little purses made of organic alpaca fiber.

    As a planner, one of my issues would be with the hours a business is in operation. A collection of independently owned businesses that keep oddball hours aren't exactly the way to create a vibrant shopping district.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    I received a request from a site selector recently for space for a teen club.
    A site selector looking for space for a teen club?? Wow, business must really be slow.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Before I opened the thread I knew it would be a teen center. The key factor in determining who will fail is their blind faith that "there is money to be had" in ppening a teen center because high school kids have so much disposable income, opening a bar in a college town, etc. Clothing resale is often another one.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

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    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    As a planner, one of my issues would be with the hours a business is in operation. A collection of independently owned businesses that keep oddball hours aren't exactly the way to create a vibrant shopping district.
    This is my constant bitch just as a consumer. As a retailer you must be open when your customers are not working!! I can't stand it when places are not open past 5PM at night, or not open at all on the weekends.

    From my old post on the same topic:
    In fact I'll let you in on my plan for world domination. I have a whole plan for a development called and advertised as, oddly enough, "Open Sunday". It would be a normal retail center of whatever style, but as part of the lease each business would have to be open Sundays at least from 10AM until 8PM. They can do what they want other days, close on Monday/Tues, whatever. But they have to be ready to go, fully staffed, on Sundays. I believe this would get alot of traffic that has nowhere else to go. Now, malls are competition for retail so that's somewhat out, but service things can be very hard to find on Sundays. Even the kiosks inside the Wal-marts have bad hours. Among the uses could be doctor, dentist, vet, hair, dry cleaner, bank (!!), auto service, liquor store - anything that I've gone looking for and been unable to find open on Sundays.

    Anyways, to answer the question, another one that never really works out is the small local museum when there is not a definitive link to that specific thing (i.e. not a famous person's birthplace or something). It's kind of the philanthropic equivalent of the hobby business. They soak up volunteer hours and contributions, and sometimes grants from taxpayers, for years without any result. And if they are not just a total scam they are just clinging to life, so they are not reliable for being open or a good experience. Around here there are several, one is an auto museum in a random spot that some guy has pitched for years, and gotten grants for, but never seems to get around to finishing.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian cng's avatar
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    There are still people out there who think the "internet cafe" is a good idea. In an age where I can go to a McDonald's and use their free wifi, this is an outdated notion by about 15 years.

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    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    I will add indoor recreation centers to the list. Those places that pop up in downtown areas to help "anchor and create" a downtown entertainment district. They usually have a sports bar, a restaurant, video games, and usually some active component like laser tag or a climbing wall. The establishment seems to last no more that 3 years.

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    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    Another one: Art galleries that focus on a specific niche in a smaller town, i.e. Celtic art or bead art. These places would have enough difficulty surviving in a big city with lots of art aficianados to draw from, and yet they think a town of 40,000 is going to sustain a business like theirs in THIS economy? Fine art doesn't much sell as it is except in, say, New York or Paris.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  10. #10
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Let's be frank - 90% of any sort of mom n pop start ups, regardless of whether it's a 'home cooked meals' restaurant or an 'Enchanted Forest Faeries & Crystal Shoppe" store fail within the first few years.

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    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Here it seems like barbecue places go out of business pretty fast. Which is a pity because I really love good barbecue. I would imagine that a barbecue restaurant has pretty high overhead (expensive meat, slow cooked that has to be prepared long before it is consumed - leftovers and wasted meat is probably a big problem). As a result, every couple of years a new barbecue place opens up and I give it some business, knowing that in less than a year it will be kaput.

    The current one in my area operates out of a food trailer in a parking lot just out of town. They keep pretty limited hours and I suppose the overhead is low. The food is okay, not great,
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

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    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by otterpop View post
    Here it seems like barbecue places go out of business pretty fast. Which is a pity because I really love good barbecue. I would imagine that a barbecue restaurant has pretty high overhead (expensive meat, slow cooked that has to be prepared long before it is consumed - leftovers and wasted meat is probably a big problem). As a result, every couple of years a new barbecue place opens up and I give it some business, knowing that in less than a year it will be kaput.

    The current one in my area operates out of a food trailer in a parking lot just out of town. They keep pretty limited hours and I suppose the overhead is low. The food is okay, not great,
    That's interesting. There are 3 BBQ places in my town of 40k and all are pretty successful. One has been around for 40 years, another for 15 that is always busy, and a new one opened up 2 years ago where no matter what time you go there is a 10-30 minute wait.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

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    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Another one: premade meal stores. I think their demise was more an effect of the recession, but during the boom days of the mid-00's these shops popped up all over the place. The city of 40,000 I went to grad school in had 2 of them.

    For $75-$100 you could order 6 to 8 premade meals from these store and all you had to do was reheat them at home. If you wanted to be more "hands-on", you could go to the store on Saturday and cook your dinners along with the store's cook.

    It was a very niche market. For the family that lived in the far-flung suburbs and didn't get home until 6 or 7 pm because of their hour-plus commute this made sense. Then when the housing crash hit, a lot of these stores closed.

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    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by rcgplanner View post
    For the family that lived in the far-flung suburbs and didn't get home until 6 or 7 pm because of their hour-plus commute this made sense.
    Note to self: Find one of those "under the hood" cookbooks for super-commuters.
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    Cyburbian
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    Within the past month I had someone propose an internet cafe/teen club... doubly doomed.

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    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    I don't think the internet cafe thing is doomed, but then again i live in a tourist town (without a macy's ) and we get a ton of foreign tourists, This may seem like a dumb idea, but most "internet" cafes I have seen lately have a loyal gaming component were super nerds go to play games like quake and WOW for hours on end. Think about it, Pay a flat fee per month x X number of users, low overhead with machines, energy use and 1 owner or employee and you can have a place go into business for quite sometime.

    Uses that around here get kicked around and die quick:

    Coffee shops
    Bowling Alley
    Mini Golf
    mexican restaurants

    and my all time favorite:

    "a club so that guys can go watch the game and have a beer, ya know a non-profit"
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  17. #17
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    In our county I did a plan review and approval for a "Christian karaoke" facility. It was not exclusively Christian, though. It was just "family oriented", with a commercial kitchen and a big open space with table and chairs, low stage. Lasted about a year.

    I remember "Shaky's" that aimed toward families and served pizza along with the real money maker---beer by the pitcher. Also they had a live piano player and a screen that displayed lyrics and a "bouncing ball" a la Mitch Miller...(I know, I'm really showing my age here)

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    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    Somebody did a Bingo hall in a former Family Dollar space in a lower rent strip mall. Lasted about 6 months.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

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    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    Around here the VFW's have the bingo biz cornered.

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    I received a request from a site selector recently for space for a teen club.

    A teen club, in my experience, is one of those businesses/uses that people constantly propose, but unfortunately don't realise never last

    What other type of businesses/uses are always proposed by the naive, and always, always fail?
    We also had someone inquire about a location for a teen club. Probably the same people. They were looking at a location that is next to an Adult Establishment. Poor idea in my mind...."Alright Ginger, now that you are 18, you can dance at the building next door..."
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

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    Cyburbian UrbaneSprawler's avatar
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    This is brand new in the Hillcrest part of San Diego. Because you never know when you need both fine glass AND reptiles at the same time. Mixed-use.


  22. #22
    Should someone open a bull and china shop next door?

    Nominating this for pic of hte day!

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by UrbaneSprawler View post
    Because you never know when you need both fine glass AND reptiles at the same time.
    I'm betting the "glass" isn't glass like most people think of it, but glaaaass, man.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    We have a place that is both an emission testing facility and a Vietnamese restaurant. I'll have to get a pic of it. Its been a very successful business model - they've been there for at least 8 years.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  25. #25
    Cyburbian UrbaneSprawler's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    I'm betting the "glass" isn't glass like most people think of it, but glaaaass, man.
    Googled the name and found on Yelp that it's categorized as a tobacco shop and pet store, so you're right!

    That sadly just seems wrong as it implies that reptiles inhaling secondhand smoke can go hand-in-hand. I expect PETA to at some point go PETA on the owner.

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