My wife and I finished a wonderful meal at Pablos in downtown Fernandina Beach, FL. It was 8:15pm on a Friday night. As we strolled the shops of this quaint downtown on Amelia Island, one thing was noticeably absent.
No, it wasn't the people.
The sidewalks were teaming with people out for an early evening stroll. There were easily 12-15 groups of revelers in a short three-block expanse, all of us engaged in the same activity... window shopping... because all the stores were closed!
Except for the two ice cream shops (both full of people), the bars and one jewelry store jammed with browsers, all the rest of the shops were closed, dark, not doing business, not making money. Yet, there were people with money to spend all over the place.
Are you open when there are people available or just when you are available?
And I don't just mean your everyday hours. Do you open for special occasions in your area? Do you open when there are events on your street? Do you open for when the movie or show lets out at the theatre venue next door? Do you open early when there is a parade or morning activity on the street?
I went back this morning to the same area for the farmers market at 9am. Didn't need much. But as we left the farmers market and strolled the same streets (still packed with people), I looked through many of the same windows of darkened shops not willing to be open when the people were there.
When these shops close for good, it won't be "because of the economy". Don't let your shop think like them. When people are there, be ready to open your doors. That's one of the first steps to great customer service.