Saturday, February 26, 2011

Diminishing downtown


After five years tucked away behind the second ugliest bank building in Amherst (both owned by Bank of America), 'Essentials' has succumbed due to a confluence of factors: the economic downturn, competition from high volume large scale retailers, and the ever present exponentially expanding competition from countless culprits harnessing the power of the Internet.

Interestingly, owner Sydne Didier issued a heartfelt SOS via the venerable Daily Hampshire Gazette with a guest column published on the last day of 2010 where she admitted that she simply could not compete--at least when it comes to price.

And while she did not request donations as a life preserver, Ms. Didier did eloquently point out that concerned citizen (and citizens should be concerned when a town's economic engine starts to sputter) held the key to 'Essentials' survival, and a legion of other struggling Mom-and-Pops: shop locally.

In her own words


14 comments:

berry throbherts loves cinder joanz said...

yes, Roberts is such a great guy, he put the final straw on my camels back.

Anonymous said...

C'mon Bach, time to move on.

Anonymous said...

"And while she did not request donations as a life preserver"

If you are insinuating that Mr. Green requested donations, that is inaccurate. The fund to save his business was unbeknownst to him at first and he did not request donations.

Anonymous said...

essentials...the most ironically named store.

Anonymous said...

Went to the store once. It was not essential.

Anonymous said...

bach is the ultimate misanthrope

Adam R Sweet said...

Didn't know it was there in the first place. I think it failed because of lack of marketing. Nothing on the internet, nothing locally...you gotta reach out to your demographic if you want to succeed. "essentials" obviously doesn't know about Facebook and Twitter.

local fine art said...

"bach is the ultimate misanthrope"

finally someone gets me.

Bach

Anonymous said...

Larry, why are you interested in this story when you avoided the Amherst Typewriter story? Not criticizing, just wondering.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a make up call as they say in sports.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to the posters on this blog who have shifted the range of opinion so far that Larry now appears to be the quintessential man of reason, calm, moderate, not prone to wild outbursts.

In a cave filled with crazies, Larry becomes the moderator. Is Mary Streeter paying attention to this?

LarryK4 said...

"In the Country of the Blind the One-Eyed Man is King"

Anonymous said...

Glad we don't have hear more about Bob Green, the typewriter guy. The very fact that things worked out well for him, the community came together, and it had a happy ending is enough to spoil this online loserville of failed business owners, foreclosed homeowners and Sad Sacks.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that essentials failed due to "the economic downturn, competition from high volume large scale retailers, and the ever present exponentially expanding competition from countless culprits harnessing the power of the Internet."

Many retailers are thriving despite the economy, large-scale competition, and the Internet.

The problem with essentials was that:
1. No one knew they were there. You couldn't see them from the street and they made no effort to draw foot traffic in or let car traffic know about them. They were half-doomed from the start by picking a terrible location in a back alley with limited parking nearby. It was obviously a store where people go on a whim, but that's not a whim-conducive location.

2. Even if you knew the store existed, did anyone know what they sold? Over the past three years, I've been a regular customer at the Bank of America, at Amherst Coffee, at the Amherst Cinema, at Tabella's. I walk by Essentials several times a week. I stopped in once. I couldn't figure out what they were selling. Was it stationery? Jewelry? Gifts? Any of these I can get in larger selection at neighboring stores (Hastings, Scandihoovians, etc.) At first I thought it was a gallery of some sort because the products all seemed to be done by the same artist in the same cutesy-pseudo Asian style. The owner clearly stuck very close to her own tastes in deciding what to sell. I saw no reason to go back.

3. Terrible hours. Most of the traffic in this back alley takes place at night with people coming and going to the movies, to dinner at Tabellas, to Amherst coffee. Was Essentials open at night? I don't think so.

4. No tie-in between the website and retail locations. They have a website. They have a store. The two entities don't talk to each other. You can't even get the store hours on the website. To locate the address of the stores (the closed store in Amherst and the one still open in Northampton), they direct you to Google maps. How about printing the addresses and phone numbers?

No failed business owner wants to admit it, but their demise is no one's fault but their own.