For as long as I can remember, the rub on downtown Phoenix has been that it is deserted after dark. Why? Because there is “nothing” there.
Over the past couple of years we have slowly felt a “revitalization” of sorts that has given hope to some that this might be changing, and that we could actually have life in the city.
Yes, the “economy sucks” and no one is really supposed to be making any money or creating anything worth while, but there is an undeniable change and shift in certain areas and “groups” in the core of the city. On this blog, we have mentioned several of them in the past and have talked about cool organizations like Radiate Phoenix.
Turns out, this month’s Radiate Phoenix meeting will be a great place to talk about exactly “what’s wrong with downtown Phoenix.”
Let’s face it, anybody can claim to love the arts, to embrace change, to be green, live urban, go deep, want to save the world, but talk and bitching isn’t always enough. One of the questions that has come up in the “what’s wrong with Phoenix” discussion has to do with, brace yourself, light rail. Does it really help? Can it change peoples patterns just because of it’s existence? Or, do you still need an exceptional business regardless of it’s location.
According to some: “Businesses think Light Rail is the answer. No, being amazing is the answer, Light Rail is just a more efficient way of bringing people to you.”
Really? I think this analogy can be used to look at a bigger picture and could be asked a thousand different ways. You think anyone has ever bought an ugly house because it had a million dollar location? Ever bought a crummy piece of pizza for eight bucks in an airport? Paid $20 for a “stupid” t-shirt because you forgot to pick up something for your kids while you were on a trip? Think about it… Location, location, location. But, maybe location isn’t helping as much as some “light-rail-fan-boy” might try to portray.
Recently I had an email discussion with a friend right before he wrote a blog post about how a business near the light rail can maximize their proximity to the line. Answering the question, if you are an owner of an “amazing” business, what else can you do to generate traffic to your door step? Jim McPherson wrote a “top ten” list with some pretty darn good ideas.
Jim’s Top 10 List of Free/Low-Cost Things Retailers Can Do Now To Promote Their Business to Light Rail Riders
- Add nearest light rail stop and map on your website.
- Add light rail stop on your menu or product card.
- Add light rail stop on your business card.
- Add light rail stop on any print ads you do.
- Add light rail stop on any press release you issue.
- Use social media to communicate to light rail fans and advocates.
- Create a light rail special menu item, drink, product, or service.
- Create visually-appealing signage for your business’s exterior.
- Monitor light rail hours of operation versus your own.
- Participate in the Metro Max shopping discount program.
Here’s the ironic part about the list: Jim’s last item, I don’t believe the Metro Max program is still in effect. So, in keeping with the theme of “what’s wrong with”, fill in the blank and add your city or neighborhood, I am going to say “People.” As in, get your customers involved with your life, with your “station.” Think about it. How many business owners really reach out to the community and get to know their customers and how many customers make any kind of effort to get to know owners, managers, or employees of businesses in their neighborhood. My answer would be… Not enough.
I don’t care how busy you are, how much money you make or the color of your skin. I don’t care if you are Einstein or Brad Pitt, you aren’t too dang important, too busy, or too cool to be a part of a community. It matters, and yes, it makes a difference.
My idea with Rail Life has to do with a common interest, but it is much more broad than just some bark biters that hate people driving SUV’s, it’s about neighborhoods and communities. I’ll be the first to admit, I can talk the talk but don’t really walk the walk as much as I could. So, challenge me, challenge your neighbor, challenge the owner of your favorite local business, but most importantly, challenge yourself.
If you have an opinion or an idea, please join us at the Radiate Phoenix meeting this Tuesday, November 24 from 5:30-7:30pm at Local Breeze which is located at 606 N 4th Avenue. Yes, it’s just a short distance from a couple of different light rail stations.
Whatever you think about downtown Phoenix or about Mill Avenue, downtown Chandler, Glendale or Scottsdale, the discussion at Tuesday’s meeting is sure to speak to you in some way. How do “we” change a city? How do you create a place where people want to live? Does downtown need more people and density first, or does it need more things for people to do before they will commit to actually calling it home or a place to play?
If you have ideas, bring them. If you don’t… Stay home.