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An Open Letter to the Merchants on Main Street (Trick or Treat)

An open letter to the Main Street Merchants who did not give out candy during trick or treat yesterday. I ask why?

Dear Main Street Merchants, I took my family to see you this weekend. We all dressed up in our costumes and joined other families to trick or treat with you. We were extremely surprised that a vast number of you decided not to trick or treat with us, and I am puzzled by this so my letter to you is why? Why would you not want us to come into your stores? I rarely head to Main Street and was excited to visit stores I had read about on Patch but had never had the chance to visit. Why couldn't you run to the Dollar store and buy a few bags of candy for the kids who just don't understand. If you are 'worried' about us traipsing into your store and getting mud on the carpet, why not just set a bowl out for the kids. For those that did participate - a big thank you. You made it a wonderful experience for all of my kids. Thank you for having fun with my kids. Thank you for opening your doors to me and inviting me in. I am going to remember you the next time I am on Main Street, and for those who were not as inviting, I'm likely to take my business to those stores that made an effort. As my kids were inside one store trick or treating, I overheard one Mom say, as she was window shopping, how nice a necklace was that she saw in the window. I doubt that would have happened normally - but this event really gave us parents the opportunity to see stores for the first time. There were some stores that had large signs saying that they were not participating. I don't understand why? Wouldn't you want me to come into your store? I imagine that it costs a lot of money to run a business. I also imagine marketing costs to advertise a business are huge. I am subjected to ads in the newspaper as well as on TV all the time so advertising must be important. What I cannot understand is why you would not open your doors and invite us in? There were several hundred of us. What would it normally cost to bring several hundreds of people into your store? Is it more than a few bags of candy at the dollar store? And then if it is, I ask again - why? Sincerely, A concerned citizen.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Hazzard Native October 31, 2012 at 04:42 AM
I agree, completely! Richard from Bountempo Brothers went right up the street to Shop Rite and bought more candy, as he did not want anyone to feel left out. We need more people like Richard! The response from Bel Air Bakery was "we're on Bond Street, and they never include us in on anything from Main Street." Hey, how about you include yourselves in on some events? What would it have cost you to give each kid a cookie? Better yet, what kind of business do you think you could have gained by exposing yourselves as being family friendly? The Orient didn't seem to have bought candy, but they handed out fortune cookies and mints - what a great idea on the spur of the moment! Kudo's to our new Chinese and Sushi joint! Mel from Stalefish Board Company, after dumping what I am sure was a truckload of cash into his relocation this week, handed out candy with a big warm smile - thanks Mel, you know the kids and parents will be back! The Little NY Deli was open, but not participating - I wonder how many people may have bought a sandwich, or at least a drink from them, had their kids gone in to trick or treat? Thanks to all who participated!
Rodney Urand October 31, 2012 at 02:26 PM
i was most dissappointed in Savona. They were open and not participating. I have given them plenty of business in the past. Couldn't they have ponied up a dum dum or two? Big kudos to those that did participate. Thank you.
Karl Schuub October 31, 2012 at 03:28 PM
"I rarely head to Main Street and was excited to visit stores I had read about on Patch but had never had the chance to visit." Perhaps this comment is part of the reason many chose not to participate. Between the extra costs involved far beyond just buying treats for your kids - extra hours and extra employees and that they recognize this demographic will never come downtown except for free candy they opted out. Using businesses as a holiday backdrop and never actually shopping there isn't helpful. Cudos to those that gave you free stuff anyway, but I can hardly criticize those that didn't.
Susan Mogavero October 31, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Trick or Treating is not meant to go shopping. Why not just take the kids around your neighborhood? That is how it was when I was a kid. Everything is so commercialized not only by the stores but by the parents who participate. What happened to simplicity and the fun of going to your neighbors houses? I don't get it!
Hazzard Native October 31, 2012 at 03:43 PM
I hardly think that a 2 hour event during the middle of the day on a Saturday would cause any merchant to have to pay any overtime, all they would have to have done is spent $5-10 on some cheap candy ant put it in a bowl. Many people took their children this year because of the uncertainty with Sandy coming up the coast. I can personally tell you that we do frequent businesses on Main Street, but we actually went into several places that we had not been in, and we came up with several Christmas present ideas with what we saw. A simple lollipop or Tootsie Roll given away Saturday might have spurred a $50 or $100 sale next month. We will remember the Grinches.
Hazzard Native October 31, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Many areas are doing similar things, it a WIN-WIN for both the children and the merchants. Ask a child if they would like to go trick or treating at a shopping area- of course they would! It's not an either/or, if the weather holds out for the evening of October 31st, they can do both.
Karl Schuub October 31, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Purely conjecture on your part - you have no idea what the particulars are of any of those businesses. Most hang on downtown by a thumbnail, not because they don't have great products but because lazy people don't like to walk - it's just easier to be spoon fed mass produced crap from the Walmart than make the effort. As it is many of the merchants did participate - enough I'm sure that all the fat kids still got candy.
Terry October 31, 2012 at 05:20 PM
There is no law that forces people/businesses to participate in Halloween. I myself may pass this year as my property to me is a little unsafe for people to walk on as we have had no time to really clean up our property from the storm. Don't need any one slipping on the still wet leaves, pipecones, etc. still on the sidewalks, driveway, etc. Too worried I'd get sued! Sorry, Can't afford to take the risk. Like the old saying goes.....There's always next year
LM21009 October 31, 2012 at 06:13 PM
We should all be supporting local businesses whether you and your kid(s) get a free piece of candy or not. Publicly blasting them for something so trivial is beyond me. In my opinion it sounds like it is the adults who just don't understand not "the kids who just don't understand". Please save public letters for important issues.
GF October 31, 2012 at 07:02 PM
I took my daughter along Main Street for this event. We did it this year due to the uncertainty of the impending storm's impact on Halloween night. I would suggest to the organizers for next year's event that participating stores either have a sign or balloons outside the store to indicate that they are handing out candy.
Hazzard Native October 31, 2012 at 08:55 PM
You are correct, there is no law. It's just not good PR. No one said anything about laws.
Hazzard Native October 31, 2012 at 09:02 PM
The adults do understand, we understand that there are businesses who would rather not have families with children in their shops, that's what it comes down to. Just like those merchants had a choice to participate in trick or treat on Main Street, we have a choice where to shop, and you can bet we will remember the places that were warm and welcoming before we remember the places that were not. An open letter is just that, an open letter, and it is taking up much less space than the anti-Wal Mart crusade posts is on this site.
Hazzard Native October 31, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Agreed.
townebarbers November 01, 2012 at 12:25 AM
we at towne barbers were very happy to have participated for Halloween on Saturday. I was very happy to see all the children this year .more this year then last wow I hope we see more next year .
LFenn November 01, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Hazard Native sounds very angry!
Kim November 01, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Stop bitching. Thats what neighborhoods are for. You won't understand what the small buss. on main street go through to keep their store up and running until you own you're own buss. Maybe if more people gave their support and took their money to the small buss. community instead of just showing up for FREE events, more buss would participate. CHEAP
Rodney Urand November 01, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Put the pitchforks down people. It was an open letter asking an honest question. Hazard Native had good points and all I asked was why? Why wouldn't we want an event that promotes downtown? I'm not saying we all sing kumbaya, but my original question still stands: as someone who doesn't own a business, wouldn't it make sense to encourage foot traffic in your door? If not, sell me on why, without the vitriol and hatred.
Suzanne November 01, 2012 at 11:12 AM
This kind of foot traffic event is often organized by business associations who are trying to revitalize and increase customer base. Some businesses opt out because they are usually fairly busy, and don't want to reduce current customer satisfaction, maybe a similar event did not change their customer profile. Some businesses do not feel tied to the local community. I don't really need to know why some businesses opt out, and others opt in. But it is just natural that those businesses who participated will be top of your mind when you next head into Bel Air. Remind the business that you came back because you enjoyed Trick or Treating, so that the effectiveness of the event is known. And I have to say, I wish I were surprised at the nasty tone of so many of the letters, but I am not. "How dare you ask Bel Air, or anything or anyone to change or do things differently?" is a common world view. Ignore it, progress happens, people who participate get to determine the shape and direction it goes.
Doug Wood November 01, 2012 at 11:39 AM
How selfish are some of you!!!!! While this event certainly is a great idea and would be fun for the kids and a hoot for their parents....some things take a back seat and this clearly is the case here. In the face of the worst storm ever forecasted in this area, did you ever think that these very store owners had preparations to make at their homes..their senior parents homes....possibly their employees had preparations to make. I don't get it, stop bitching ..........
Karl Schuub November 01, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Suzanne - fact is as admitted here in the open letter this person (these families) don't shop downtown anyway. I'll say it again..using downtown merchants as a backdrop for a holiday and only expecting free candy for your kids isn't constructive. There's no indication that the shops that choose not to participate feel less connected to the neighborhood - just that they're downtown in the first place suggests your theory is total bs. If you choose to ignore merchants on the sole basis that your kid didn't get a piece of candy there I'd say somebody surely for whatever reason "isn't tied to the local community" and it isn't the merchants on Main Street.
Dave Y November 01, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Waaah, nobody wanted to give my kids something for free. This entitled attitude is one of the many things wrong with the US today. Please Rodney, don't spread this BS to your kids.
Suzanne November 01, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Being downtown and being connected to the community of Bel Air are not the same thing. And the only people I see 'bitching' are the people who don't like that someone asked the question, "why did some stores not participate?" -- Other communities do these types of events to increase the foot traffic, specifically those people who have not been coming to shop. That is the whole point. Reaching the demographic that you did not already have. If you don't want to participate, fine. but consumers have every right to decide for their own reasons where they spend their money. Store owners have every right to not participate as well. Asking why someone didn't is not 'bitching'. And deciding not to spend your extra money at stores that opted not to participate is not 'selfish'. No business can expect money from unhappy customers. If the reason some did not participate was because they were still reeling from the storm, for whatever reason, then that is an answer to the question posed, and might mitigate the response of some of those potential customers. Like I said, the nasty responses are not surprising, but I doubt that comes from actual local small businesses, or at least not from small businesses with decent management and ownership. Personal experience, pleasant shop keepers do more business.
Karl Schuub November 01, 2012 at 04:56 PM
If you're rendered happy or unhappy over a snickers bar heaven help you. What about service, local ownership, interesting inventory??...any number of other things seem more important to me but to each their own. Got it you're jazzed over a piece of gum.
Terry November 01, 2012 at 05:19 PM
I'm dying to know what all these people who got their panties in a wad because a business didn't give out Halloween candy are gonna do come Christmas time? If a store doesn't give you free hot chocolate or a candy cane when you enter the store are you gonna leave??
John Citzen November 01, 2012 at 05:29 PM
The point of the event is to turn Main street into a "neighborhood" business interacts with people and people come back to shop. Why because you develop a relationship with them. You can show off your buisness to the people. Oh you are don't need anyone business in one of the toughest economies good for you mate. Then don't complain when people have no loyalty locally and go to Wal Mart. It is not about getting something for free it is the how you show your not just a business but a friend to the community. IMHO
Rodney Urand November 01, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Dave, Surely you would want me to teach my children what it is like to grow up in a connected society. Remember the first part of why this was written - I just want to know why. It really isn't about the candy - I just don't know why people would not want me to spend more time downtown. Plain and simple. Karl Schuub seems to think that I am not the intended demographic. All I ask is please give me a reason to return to downtown as opposed to going to the Walmart or elsewhere. For the record, stated again for clear purpose - does downtown Bel Air want people to visit?
Rodney Urand November 01, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Thank you Suzanne. My point exactly. I thought this was well written.
Rodney Urand November 01, 2012 at 05:58 PM
John Citizen, Thank you. I would love to see a stronger Bel Air community. That was my purpose in posting.
Karl Schuub November 01, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Why don't you spend more time downtown because it's there. You have to be bribed? Just here recently there was a store for kids downtown and it closed...Tiddlywinks I think it was called. For all you folks that had kids; where were you? You want candy but you don't want to shop downtown? Bet Tiddlywinks would have happily given out candy but guess what...they closed. Those stores are not a backdrop for Christmas and Halloween; these are people, our neighbors trying to make a living. I can't believe these comments that allude to such that people won't shop at stores that didn't give away candy to their kids. I assure you a free nestles crunch doesn't measure a connected society.
Suzanne November 01, 2012 at 09:51 PM
I am with you John Citizen. The only people who seem to have their panties in a wad are sounding like the old man grumpus up the street, who not only doesn't want trick-or-treaters, but doesn't want anyone to consider him a fuddy duddy. You are free to opt out of community events, but as a business, there may be a consequence. If you don't like the consequence, don't opt out. The consumer, the original letter, was just asking a question. I think a clever store owner would have given out business cards good for a free pencil on a return visit. Double the foot traffic.

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