Archive for Thursday, September 7, 2006

Support for existing options increases possibilities

September 7, 2006

After photographing the De Soto Days Festival parade Saturday, I went into the Coffee Click for a bargain farewell cappuccino.

The well-attended parade was good for business. Brian and his two assistants were busy filling the $1-for-anything orders. Despite the hustle and the festive atmosphere outside, there was a sadness present. It would be the coffee shop's last day after a 14-month run.

I'm certainly sad to see it go for selfish reasons. The establishment afforded me a place to take afternoon breaks and cast about for story ideas.

You don't have to feel sorry for the owners, Brant and Jared Clarke. Their video conference sales business above the coffee shop is doing just fine, and its closing will allow them to focus more thoroughly on what is their bread and butter.

Several weeks ago, Denny Hougham suggested a story. "How many businesses have failed in De Soto the past five year?" he asked.

I don't have a definitive answer but can easily count 12, most of which I did a story on in their optimistic early days. The Coffee Click, the latest of that number, far exceeded the life span of most.

I don't know if the failure rate in De Soto is exceptional. Opening a small business is a risky proposition anywhere. I admit to finding some of the businesses I featured risky to the point of folly.

While many businesses have failed, other recently opened ventures appear to be prospering, a new office park is being built and someone had enough confidence in De Soto to build and open a new bank in the city.

As I try to distinguish between successes and failures of the retail ventures, it seems those that succeed more often than not are those who reach beyond De Soto for business or aren't dependent on walk-up traffic. It's indicative that De Soto is a bedroom community and residents shop where they work for reasons of selection, cost or convenience.

There are those who envision De Soto's retail future-- especially downtown -- as specialty shops that cater to well-to-do residents from eastern Johnson County.

That makes sense and there's a place for it. But what do such businesses add to the day-to-day life of De Soto residents?

Mochas, lattes and cappuccinos aren't necessities or on the radar of many people. Still, their fresh-brewed availability added something to life in De Soto. It's the same loss in possibilities and options the city loses whenever a business is forced to close.

Sadly, it's those lack of options so many people complain De Soto lacks. It comes back to that hackneyed phrase, "Support your local businesses." The first step in bringing additional possibilities to De Soto is supporting those that exist, especially those catering to the community.

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