Friday, January 7, 2011

Minding the Front of the Building . . .

Whenever we are  in Waynesville driving down Soco Road, we notice this fairly new ice cream parlor. Actually, it's also a "We Buy Gold!" joint, too. We saw it as they painted it and put up signs. As the weeks passed, they began to add more and more menu items and services: unlimited talk, wi-fi, hot chocolate, hot dogs, delivery, et cetera.

We can't drive now without looking to see what they've added or changed. I told GMR, "Look how hard they are working. Look at all they are doing to pull people into their shop."

I wonder, are they having success despite all their efforts? There doesn't seem to be many cars there when we pass - of course, this is the time of year when the tourists have gone home and many of the "part timers" have left. Still, I wonder. These people are trying HARD. They are doing all they can with marketing and promotion and "let's try this and this and this." They are not giving up.

Have GMR and I gone inside yet? I admit: no. What's keeping us from going inside? I've thought about this. First, the color of the place is off-putting. And all the signage over-whelms--some of the signs droop. The "We Buy Gold" doesn't inspire me to go inside. I don't know - something about it causes me to hesitate to go in and check them out, even though I admire them for their tenacity and spirit.

We may try this and try that and try the other, and still something isn't quite right. People aren't coming in. The parking lot isn't full. What may seem wonderful to one is not so wonderful to another. What may be welcoming to a person here doesn't feel welcoming to a person there.

I sometimes want to go in and say, "Step back from what you are doing and really look at the image your place is reflecting . . ." and maybe they could see what I see. But another part of me imagines them inside, happy and excited; getting together and discussing: "what next!" with a fever of happiness that they have their very own business and look at how beautiful it is -- that image makes me smile. That image makes me want to go in - every time I see a new angle, I want to go in. But still I have not. I want them to be successful. I want to see the parking lot full, but if I don't go in myself to support them, then . . . well, you see my point.

Sometimes, despite your best effort, despite all you put into your work, still the parking lot doesn't seem as full as you'd like. So you change something, and something else, and add something and fiddle and change. When all along, there is that glaring one thing you haven't noticed: the front of your building.

I think there's a lesson or a moral or a metaphor in this, even though I'd only thought to come talk about this little ice cream shop.

What do you think?
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20 comments:

Terri Tiffany said...

Good good thoughts here. I have seen places this way and we can apply it to our own lives. For me it means don't try so hard, be yourself.

Stacy Post said...

What a thought-provoking post! I can totally see how that relates to writing...especially during the revisions/critiquing phase. It reminds me of a children's book, Arthur Writes a Story, by Marc Brown. Arthur, who wants to write the perfect story that everyone will like, keeps throwing in everyone else's story ideas and by the end, it's a fine mess. But his original story idea is best and succeeds. (Sorry, the librarian in me kicked in.) I enjoyed your post very much, Kat!

Angie Ledbetter said...

I think I'm guilty of this sometimes, especially with my new found love of collage/artistic stuffs. I keep adding this and that..."Oh, another goo-gah would look so purty and shiny right here, oh, and a feather and a few buttons!" LOL. Self-editing is hard when you're muddling around trying hard (too hard?) to make something attractive, when shoulda just used the Less is More rule. :)

Hugs & misses ya!

Diane said...

I guess for me it means give places/people a fair shake. Don't judge on outward appearances only. :O)

Carolyn V. said...

Oooo, that is interesting! There was an old run down restaurant near our home that no one went to. We were daring and young and took the risk. The food was excellent. When they moved to a nicer building, they became so popular, they expanded. They have four restaurant locations now. They just had to tweak a little. Great lesson there Kat. Makes me think. =)

Susan R. Mills said...

Oh yeah, definitely a lesson there, and one I just learned, I might add. :)

Kelly Bryson said...

Hey Kathryn- it sounds like they need a crit group! I think that's the reasons writers love their crit partners- we may not want to know that the Gold sign is giving the wrong impression, but we need to hear it. thanks for the reminder-Kelly

john bord said...

As the realtor says, curb appeal

Cover on a book.... curb appeal

Head lines draw reader in or chase off

Sounds like your are already looking at marketing your next collection of words or maybe looking to head off to the gold field and do some panning.

Eryl said...

The 'we buy gold' sign would put me off too. It's just far too different from the other things they do: old bits of gold don't seem to sit well with food. Handling bits of old gold doesn't suggest the level of hygiene I would require in a cafe. It jars. Also, there's an implication that they aren't confident about their food, they're not doing it because they love it but because they want to make money, or to be their own boss, or for some other reason that isn't making and serving ice-cream and hot chocolate.

I came across a quotation from Banksy the other day (in his book Wall and Peace) which was something like: 'don't do it for fame, fame is a by product of being good at what you do. You don't go to a restaurant because you need a sh**' You can, of course, substitute fame for a number of different things without losing the message.

rosaria said...

A perfect metaphor! For those in the midst of it, it's all about today, work and energy. Only when we step outside, we see another picture. We do need to step outside; better yet, ask those who don't know us, what they see.

Kathryn, you have stumbled on a great premise to shout out to the world.

Jinksy said...

Sounds like a good lesson in 'how to be true to yourself, first and foremost'...

Marguerite said...

Down here in South Loosiana, outward appearances don't seem to matter as much as what's going on inside of a place. If the food or music is good, the word will get around and that is what draws people in. But curb appeal is a plus and is what attracts the tourists. So both are important aspects of a successful business.

demery bader-saye said...

I'm thinking this means figure out what your passion is and go for it, wholeheartedly. We don't have to be the hot dog stand, gold buyer, sandwich maker, convenience shop, delivery service all rolled up in one. We just need to be the best [pick your best thing] we can be. :) Still - I love your image of them inside dreaming up what's next! I'd love to read a post about your peek inside if you ever go.

Deb Shucka said...

I love this. It makes me think that sometimes people try too hard and in the process end up with a mish-mash that no one finds appealing. I think it also illustrates the need for feedback - I wonder if this couple has ever asked anyone why they're not coming into the shop. And I agree with your point - what grabs one person (like some tourists in the summer) may repel someone else (like locals). Maybe they're being as successful as they want.

T. Anne said...

Actually this is profound in so many ways. When dealing with business a lot of it has to do with our loyalty to brand name recognition, especially when it comes to food. You're right the "we buy gold" signage doesn't do them any favors. And the unlimited talk was kind of off putting to imagine because I like to be served, indulge in brief friendly chit-chat, but then I want to be left alone, more or less.

Now I need to take this as an analogy and apply it to my own life. I love this!

Lynda Young said...

When we try to please everyone we end up pleasing no one. Great thoughts.

Vicki Lane said...

Oh yes -- not unlike writing. (Vampires! No, a zombie . . . with a talking dog...yeah, that's the ticket! And a pirate!)

t i m said...

Good post and it got me thinking how it relates to my line of work. At my school we have a few plasma screens scattered around the building to communicate notices for our students and one of my gazillions of tasks is to keep them updated with the latest news.

For about a couple of years or so, my routine involved spending a number of hours at times meticulously designing eye-catching displays that would appeal to the students without ever getting any idea what the students made of them.

One day, a new boss came in with a fresh set of eyes and suggested conducting a survey to get student feedback on everything we do for them.

To cut the meandering long story short the verdict was – sometimes simplicity is key – plus it freed me to be more efficient and allowed me room to do many other things around the buildings for the pupils and the ever-so demanding teachers.

tipper said...

Food for thought in this post-so much I may need to save some for supper : )

Funny how a little icecream place could make you think uh?

~JarieLyn~ said...

I know exactly how you feel. I thought the exact same things as you when a new little bakery opened up near my home. It is still just struggling alon.

Maybe you could write a letter to the business telling them what it is that keeps you from coming in. It might inspire them to change the color of the building or who knows.....