Sapulpa just passed a $40 million Bond that is going to shake some things up. We’re going to see updates and fixes to our roads, our parks, some of our facilities, and yes, our downtown. Not all of it is going to come quickly. It’s an 8-year-project, and many of these things take time.
One thing I’m sure of more than any other—downtown Sapulpa is about to take off. There’s a palpable excitement in the air that’s been there a few years, but the longer I watch, the more I see it: businesses are being bought and sold, yes some places are leaving, but more are coming in. Change is happening. Renovations are happening. Doors that have been closed for years—decades even—are now swinging open with fresh, new businesses.
As Sapulpa begins a new direction with a bright future, I really think it’s time to address a commonality that plagues our downtown businesses: closing time.
The average retail space in Sapulpa is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Surely, if you’re an owner in one of these businesses, you’ve heard someone complain about it. “Why can’t you be open later?” They lament that they can’t shop in your store during the hours they want to because they’re at work.
And listen, I know you’ve tried. The Chamber or Main Street does special events and they ask you to stay open later. You do, and it doesn’t work. You don’t get the foot traffic you need to justify it, so you go back to closing at five or six.
But that’s the problem: for you, closing at 6 p.m. is still the norm, and staying open late is the exception. It needs to be the other way around.
Jason Ward, who owns two of Sapulpa’s Daylight Donut locations (and another donut shop on Brookside in Tulsa) said something in a recent interview that stuck with me. “If I want my customers to be consistent,” he said, “I need to be consistent in when I’m open and with the service I provide them.” Daylight Donuts is celebrating 50 years of business in Sapulpa this year.
Some of you may be thinking, What does a guy who doesn’t own a retail shop have any business telling me how to run my own business? And I’ll confess that I haven’t had near the experience some of our long-time business owners have had, and so I want to clarify that I’m only telling you, what others are telling me. I’ve had many, many conversations with the people that shop your store. Even the ones that are trying hard to support local businesses are painfully aware that there’s nowhere to go after 6 pm in Sapulpa.
That’s great, you’re thinking, but how do I afford to hire the staff and keep the lights on? The truth is, I don’t have a foolproof answer for you, there. Your case is not the same as everyone else’s. But I do know this…the American consumer has for years been migrating towards a European way of shopping, which means that they’re doing it later.
Roger Brooks is a world-renowned speaker and expert on downtown and rural town revitalizations. He’s the one who found that “70% of all consumer retail spending happens after 6:00 pm.” Another expert, Bob Phipps (called The Retail Doctor) has done studies that have shown the best times for making money in retail are Saturdays from 11 am – 1 pm or 3 pm to 5 pm, and Sundays from 11 am – 1 pm or 3 pm – 5 pm. If you’re not open on Sundays, you’re missing one of your biggest retail opportunities!
Maybe all of these changes are too much to handle right now. That’s understandable. But what I would encourage you to do is to commit—not try, but truly commit—to being open later on the days you’re already open. Make it so that when the Chamber or Main Street comes to visit, any additional customers they send your way will be the icing on the cake.
Change is coming. In less than ten years, the Sapulpa you know now is going to be different. Where will you be at that time?