April 13, 2006


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Concord Publisher's Note: You have to want it
By Dan Szczesny

Recently, I spent a late afternoon in downtown Concord looking for a cup of coffee. I was early for a book signing at Gibson’s and had a half hour to kill. It was 6:30 p.m.

All I can say is, where is everybody?

It’s easy to blame the politicians who don’t appear to care about the independent businessperson. It’s easy to be frustrated at the supposed lack of parking. We can grumble all we want about the incursions of big developments and how they tie up our time and money. And certainly, the biggest, baddest excuse of them all — the chain stores at the mall are taking away business.

Guess where I got my cup of joe? Dunkin’ Donuts.

Folks, if your store hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., your clients are pretty much going to be people without jobs.

Main Street Concord promotes a First Friday event where businesses are encouraged to remain open later once a month to encourage shoppers to explore downtown. The reason? Because if you are closing your doors when all those lawyers, accountants, real estate developers and legislators are getting out of work, they are going to go to the mall and you have no one but yourself to blame.

It’s not easy running a small business, and the responsibilities of family along with the heavy workloads can be overwhelming. The way to combat this and keep your sanity is to take a we’re-all-in-this-together approach.

• Businesses need to coordinate with their neighbors. Gibson’s and the Concord Co-op do it. On the night of the reading, the co-op provided appetizers and kept their doors open for spillover traffic.

• Check with the Museum and the Capitol Center to coordinate specials, sales and promotions during a time when people will be downtown looking for something to do before or after a show.

• Volunteer your time with Main Street Concord during events like Midnight Merriment to help push not just your business, but downtown as a whole. Downtown’s success will translate to your business being successful.
Just unlocking your doors and expecting customers to come pouring in is the best way to make sure your customers go to the mall. Give them a reason to come, and accommodate their hours, not yours, and it will be Dunkin’ Donuts wondering where all the business has gone.

The Dirty Dozen
Last week, 12 cowardly senators choose politics over health and killed a bill that would have banned smoking in bars and restaurants. The bill had already cleared the House and Gov. Lynch was ready to sign it. The ban would have been an enlightened step toward protecting New Hampshire citizens who work in bars and restaurants from secondhand smoke, and the state would have joined the rest of New England in this very basic and necessary legislation.

Instead, the Dirty Dozen, led by Sen. President Ted Gatsas, left the tough decisions up to individual business owners. Another business stepping up to the plate is the Barley House, which announced this week that it will join several other Concord restaurants and bars in going smokeless. It’s at least nice to know that someone is willing to fight for good health.

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