Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Will Retail Be The Death Of The Piedmont Triad? Part 2

I keep thinking as I write Will Retail Be The Death Of The Piedmont Triad? that I'd much rather be working on my latest novel,  Adventures On My Talking Motorcycle  but some things are just important for people to know. What I'm writing here is important, the other you can read between job interviews and while waiting in line at the employment security commission. Maybe it will cheer you up.

Think those restaurant jobs the Greensboro City Council has been funding downtown are going to save us? Here's something lifelong Greensboro resident Katei Cranford shared on her Facebook page this morning:

"I've scrolled for 10 minutes to find something positive to share with no luck.
So....good morning?"

No wait, that wasn't it, what I meant to share was this quote from There's a Massive Restaurant Industry Bubble, and It's About to Burst, Part 3 in a series on a tear long investigation into the impending death of the American restaurant industry. All in all the series isn't very in depth but there was this one quote that stood out to me:

"In New Orleans, I spoke with chef James Cullen (previously of Treo and Press Street Station) who talked at length about the glut of copycats: "If one guy opens a cool barbecue place and that's successful, the next year we see five or six new cool barbecue places... We see it all the time here."

Remember in Part 1 of this series I wrote:

"But as you and I know all too well, when everyone starts doing the same thing it works no more. Innovation remains innovative for only as long as it remains new, different, and better than what everyone else offers. One cannot be innovative by doing what everyone else is already doing."

You see, there has never been innovation come to Greensboro-- not in the 60 years that I've lived here. Right now Greene Street Club is redoing their club to give it a Miami atmosphere. No innovation there. We know the way to Miami and there are very few Cubans in Greensboro. It simply won't work

Marty Kotis hardly gets the doors open on new restaurants before he learns his "innovative" ideas are bullshit.

And Rocky Scarfone has run Hams into the ground. He sold the only Hams that ever really worked long term to Kotis and he bulldozed it all after the City Council gave him a piece of a city street.

One of the comments I got to Part 1 of this series came from a lifelong Greensboro resident who has been here longer than I have. Mr John Tasker writes:

"City Council and City Staff have been the death of Greensboro for at least since about the late 1960's. Before then the cronyism was more, shall we say, forward-looking. After that, nothing but cronyism or vote-pandering. Nothing but . . ."

You see, innovation never thrives among cronyism. For innovation to thrive it must go where it is free to innovate. Right now, Part 1 of this series is being censored at the Facebook group Greater Greensboro Politics and Ivan Saul Cutler, Admin of that forum, has twice failed to answer the following question:

Earlier I asked the following question of my readers:

"Why is it that people who are able to see danger and bad things, and chose to tell others about them, are assumed to be negative people?"

The general consensus was...  Well, in so many words, people don't want to know the truth.

I bring this up because Greensboro's status-quo has long made me out to be a negative person even though I'm quite happy with my station in life. Yes, there are thinks I get angry about, children suffering, abused animals, a toxic environment, but hey, even people sitting at green lights while talking on their cell phones doesn't bother me often. Not much does. Fact is; I'm rarely upset or rattled and almost never by the things that keep the rest of you bent out of shape. But because I dream of a Greensboro that is a good place for everyone, people get scared their little fiefdoms might crumble.

Well guess what? Those fiefdoms will crumble no matter if I point them out or not. I'm just trying to warn a city I care about so that you might at least put on helmets before things start falling on your heads.

But you know, there are some sit down restaurants that will survive just as they've always survived. Oh, they'll have it tough but they'll manage. And which restaurants will those be? The owner of the restaurant only owns 1 restaurant and works full time in the restaurant. The restaurants that serve breakfast and lunch to blue collar workers, own the buildings they are located in, and don't change with every season. We blue collar locals have been keeping them busy for decades.

So getting back on track and going back to the figures I gave you yesterday:

Retail Space Per Person

142 square feet
US National Average 23.5 square feet
Canada 16.4 square feet
Australia 11.1 square feet

Europe 2,5 square feet

Finding published figures on individual cities has been difficult but I did find the
KARNES Tri-City North Carolina Retail 2013 Year in Review where it is written:

"A combined total of 144.8 million square feet of retail space was located within the Tri-City area at the end of 2013. With a retail inventory totaling approximately 60.7 million square feet, the Charlotte market was the largest of the three North Carolina retail markets, accounting for 42% of the retail inventory. The Triangle market ranked second with 46 million square feet of retail space, while the Triad maintained 38 million square feet of retail space. After declining to a historical low of 541,782 square feet in 2002, retail construction increased to nearly one million square feet in the Tri-City markets during 2013. New retail supply during 2013 was most pronounced in the Triangle region, where 693,982 square feet of new space was delivered. The Charlotte region ranked second with 231,680 square feet of new retail space completed during 2013, while the Triad region reported 38,000 square feet of new retail during 2013. Only the Charlotte region reported a continued decline in new construction from the level reported in 2012. While retail construction in the Tri-City area increased during 2013, the level of new supply remained well below the 2.6 million square feet averaged annually between 2008 and 2011."

So to come up with a figure I divided 38,000,000 by a population of 1,640,717 (population of the Piedmont Triad) to come up with a figure of 23.16 square feet of retail per person, just above the national average of 23.5 and 1/6 of Greensboro's total which is 6 times the national average.

So will retail be the death of the Piedmont Triad? Odds are good the Piedmont Triad, as a region, will get by just on the skin of its teeth. As for Greensboro, get out if you can.

Stay tuned for Part 3 if and when our City Leaders chose to acknowledge this problem they've helped to create.