This past weekend many of the merchants of Historic Cocoa Village started staying open later on Friday and Saturday nights. For a long time, most of us have heard complaints from the locals saying they wished the stores would be open later so they could come down after work. This is a good thing, IF they have the right mindset.
My concern is this: sure, there are those people who come down to one of the restaurants for dinner, then walk the streets window-shopping. They wish the store was open. They cup their hands around their eyes and press up against the windows of the darkened store. I know this happens, because I see forehead prints and side-hand prints on my windows occasionally. And I'm not even on the main street (although I am right next to a fine-dining restaurant). So, do they really want to do some SHOPPING? Or would they just like to window-shop INDOORS with the lights on? Because window-shopping indoors with the lights on doesn't do the merchant one bit of good.
Do people take into consideration the additional labor and electricity, if nothing else, that goes into staying open 3 extra hours? I highly doubt it. So if people just come to Cocoa Village and walk around pointing and saying, "ooh, isn't that cute?" but don't BUY the cute thing, then it's having a negative impact. It is costing the store owner money. I realize it takes time to get the word out that something has changed, no matter what that something is. We're working hard to get the word out to the local community that some stores are offering later shopping hours. For me, the operative word is shopping. To some of the people who might come down, the operative word is going to be some of the stores will be open.
In a shopping district like ours, with dozens of individually owned-and-operated businesses, you're never going to get everyone on board. It stinks, but it's a fact. There are some who won't even consider staying open late. There are others who are "waiting to see what happens". There are still others who will try it once or twice and if they don't make a bunch of money, they'll say "oh, that doesn't work for me". I wish it were possible to get everyone to see that an all-out, committed, group effort is good for ALL of us, even if every visitor doesn't buy something in every store every time they visit. Just as I wish it were possible to get the visitors to see that BUYING something is beneficial to THEM because it will encourage the shops to stay open and to be open the next time the evening-shopping bug strikes.
If the shops aren't open, the public can't buy. And if the public doesn't come and buy, the shops won't stay open. Catch-22? You bet. We'll see how it goes. I'LL be open every Friday and Saturday evening until 8:00 p.m. Come on down! And bring your wallet! I won't be upset if you don't buy from me (although it would be REALLY cool if you did!), but I'll be sad if you don't buy something, somewhere.