Monday, December 28, 2009

(empo-tymshft) Sometimes business is a zero sum game

In our economic and business environment, we are wired to believe that everything is always increasing. Population is always increasing. Wages are always increasing. Revenue is always increasing. And if things aren't increasing, something is wrong.

Hence the note of alarm from the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce, as recorded by David Allen:

[T]he Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce is alarmed enough by the number of closings in Chino and Chino Hills to appeal to the public.

"Because of the influx of new restaurants in the south Chino and Chino Hills area, many of the longer established restaurants all around Chino Valley are struggling to keep the doors open," writes the chamber's Jean Christy.

To which I respond, DUH! If a town has one restaurant, and a second restaurant opens, then the only way that both restaurants will prosper is if new business can be lured in from the existing population. And during a recession, that probably ain't gonna happen.

But if the number of businesses remain the same, why is the Chamber so concerned? Hints can be found in Allen's article:

Chino lost Black Angus and On the Border, both at the Spectrum, and Dickey's BBQ. (The latter especially bothered Christy because it participated in the chamber's annual Taste of the Chino Valley.)

"If that is not bad enough," Christy writes, "an icon in the Chino Valley for 15 to 20 years -- Marie Callender's in Chino Town Square -- MAY be closing effective Jan. 3." She says Callender's participates in Taste of the Chino Valley and the Dairy Festival and also contributes to other community events.

So you see why the Chamber is concerned - the businesses that are closing are the ones that happened to support the Chamber. Apparently the newly-arrived businesses aren't embedded in the community enough to support the Chamber yet - and THAT'S why Christy's concerned.

And isn't it interesting to notice that something that's been around for "15 to 20 years" suddenly becomes a revered icon? I have lived in Upland or Ontario for over a quarter century, and when I first arrived here, I had a friend who performed at a restaurant in downtown Chino. Or close enough - it was on Central Avenue, just south of Riverside. A few years later, I bet that restaurant lost business when that usurping chain restaurant Marie Callender's opened outside of downtown, threatening the established local business community. And now Marie Callender's itself is a victim of the same problem - new businesses moving in and attracting people away from the old ones.

This parallels the situation in my city of Ontario, in which patrons of Albertson's and other established stores are decrying the entry of Wal-Mart - never mind the fact that Albertson's and the other stores already lured people away from downtown Ontario.

The only way that you'll get old and new businesses to survive is to have a bunch more people migrate to the area. But of course, that would involve APARTMENTS - and we certainly can't have that.

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