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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Memo to Calhoun Village Owners

"Don't Truck That Snow Away So Fast!"

One of the fringe benefits :) of pulling a couple very late nights the last week is seeing the procession of large trucks show up around 1 a.m. to clear my office parking lot of snow.

Since the blizzard that hit the Twin Cities a week ago, the Calhoun Village parking lot has shrunk to about half its usual size, while mountains of snow consumed the remainder.

Meanwhile, judging by the suddenly jammed parking lot, business at Calhoun Village the last week has never seemed better.

Hmmm . . . .

"The Scarcity Effect"

Clearly, some of the "pop" in business has to do with the calendar: the ten days or so preceding Christmas are traditionally a very busy time for the retailers, restaurants, etc. that populate Calhoun Village.

Subtract a few days for a blizzard and its aftermath, and you also create pent-up demand.

However, it's also the case that the suddenly packed parking lot has enhanced the appearance of booming business.

No Empty Seats -- or Parking Spaces

As Presidential advance teams know full well, if you book a 3,000 seat venue and 4,000 people show up, the event has "buzz."

If you instead book a 5,000 seat venue and get the exact same 4,000 people -- there are acres of empty seats and the event looks like a flop.

The same phenomenon also helps explain the cachet of Wrigley Field and Fenway Park -- both genuinely charming, historic places to watch baseball, whose allure is further enhanced by the fact that they're both undersized and therefore perpetually sold out.

Before Calhoun Village management gets the wrong idea, though, just keep in mind that the scarcity phenomenon only works to a point: restrict parking too much, and you get . . . the St. Louis Park Trader Joe's.

P.S.: Know why you've never seen an empty seat at the Oscar's, Emmy's or other big-time award shows?

"Seat fillers" immediately take the place of VIP's when they go to the restroom or otherwise take a break.

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