I know I’ve been up on my preservation high horse for the last 4 weeks, but if it’s OK with you all, I think I’ll stay perched up here a while longer. There are just too many topics to cover. I try my best not to come across high and mighty, and hopefully there aren’t too many of you who think we sound like a broken record when we recycle stats and ideas from prior columns to reinforce points we are trying to make today. And unfortunately, there are probably several of you out there who don’t even know what that term means. That a “broken record” can hang on a scratch and repeat all day long until you bump the needle arm forward… Hey, it hasn’t always been digital files stored on a computer or an iPod folks. But for those of you who have kids, you know that friendly suggestions don’t always work. You have to beat them over the head with it over and over until they finally buy into a very small portion of what you are pushing. In other words sometimes you have to sound like a broken record… So that’s what we are doing here. We are rehashing thoughts and reintroducing ideas to see if we can get a few people to look at things differently and try to help some cash in on the improving economic outlook facing our little town.
Here is another one of those topics may sound familiar on the surface, but from a different angle. We were discussing a couple weeks ago how our Main Street district should strive to be an exciting place where people want to spend their time and their money. And to do that we need to have a mix of businesses down here that capture your imagination and where customers are absolutely ecstatic when parting with their money because they know they just got something in return that they won’t get anywhere else. Now looking at our local BBQ situation, I realize we locals are spoiled rotten, but just imagine how all the BBQ tourists feel when they finally get to cross Luling City Market off their bucket lists. A lot of them have come from a very long way away to see what the fuss is all about and they are genuinely excited to fork over their money to experience it. That is the type of customers ALL businesses should all be striving for isn’t it? Granted it took Luling City Market years of word of mouth to get them there, but if you think about it, how much have they really promoted themselves to get where they are? Not much! Their product offerings have done all of the talking. But who says we can’t have some other local businesses step up and become destination businesses that attract people from long distances just like they do? Unfortunately there are no shortcuts to building a profitable business whose products and services are in great demand. That takes lots of fresh ideas, creative planning, and lots of hard work, – but I guarantee you if you have something special to talk about, people will be drawn to you like a horse to water. But as some outfits toil for years to establish themselves, others are fast tracking their success by being different. And when they finally get that going for them, they are tapping into some new technologies and other invaluable resources to get there quicker than ever before possible. Some are using social media and expanding their reach electronically and finding ways to use e-commerce to combat the large big box stores and online retailers. But if there is a so called shortcut, free publicity is probably the most powerful way to cement consumer loyalty and create a buzz for your offerings that grows exponentially. Just look what has happened to City Market the last few years now that all the self proclaimed BBQ gurus are crowning them the best this, and the best that, in all these different publications. In case you haven’t noticed, the 600 block of Davis St. is a madhouse on the weekends. But all of these writers have figured out that these “Best of…” lists increase readership, and that this type of content is usually a slam dunk in the eyes of their editors. And if your business strikes a nerve with the public and stands out from the others somehow, rest assured, they will find you.
I have to congratulate City Market for their many accomplishments, and thank them for helping me prove my point. Recently two of their employees were flown up to New York City to be interviewed for a segment on NBC’s The Today Show with co-hosts Tamron Hall (a Luling native), Natalie Morales, Al Roker and Willie Geist. You’ve heard of that little show haven’t you? This episode aired Monday May 19th and will be an ongoing boon for Luling City Market for years. Hundreds of thousands, or maybe even millions saw this episode, and many of those people will try to figure out a way to get down here and experience it for themselves. City Market was also voted one of the 101 Best Restaurants in the World by 53 famous world renowned chefs in a piece done in Newsweek Magazine back in August of 2012. This stuff is priceless folks. If you had a multimillion dollar advertising budget you couldn’t buy this kind of powerful publicity even if you wanted to! And it was free for the love of heaven! But it all starts with offering an experience that they won’t find anywhere else. I know I’ve been preaching this stuff off and on for awhile now, but if there is a better way to create and expand business opportunities for towns like ours in the increasingly hostile business climates of this modern age… I’m all ears.
“We have a strategic plan… it’s called doing things!” – Herb Kelleher
-Derek Hall, Luling Main Street Manager