Monday, May 6, 2013

Parking, parking, who's got the parking?

North Market Street is an intreresting place to do business in many ways, but it was even better before the county started eliminating parking spaces. It's got the old Main Street vibe that old folks like me recall before the rise of malls.

(I spent my early teen years living about 2 miles from the first shopping mall in the country, Lennox Square. Unlike real Main Streets, malls empty out when the management makes the stores close.)

Saturday,I went out to see what more parking means for business. The locale: the Upcountry farmers market.

The market used to be held at the Eddie Tam Community Center in Makawao, near my house, which has maybe a dozen parking stalls. And it used to attract about 6 vendors and perhaps two dozen customers over the course of a couple of hours every Saturday morning. 

If somebody was setting up the meeting room in the center for a baby luau or birthday party, which was usually the case, there was even less parking.

Over a year ago, for reasons unrelated to parking, the market was moved to the private parking lot next to Longs at Kulamalu Town Center. 

It took a while for people to get used to it, but nowadays, the farmers market draws at least 5o vendors and I don't know how many customers. But last Saturday, the parking lot -- RtO didn't count, but it has probably 300-400 stalls -- was full. Overfull. 

People wanting to get at the locally-made jellies, just-picked avocados, fresh greens and sausage biscuits (among many other things) had to park along the access road, and the overflow of cars reached nearly to Maikalani (the offices of the Institute for Astronomy).

I cannot think of a clearer example of what you need for business stimulation.

Whatever the anticar people think, Americans are not going to start riding bicycles to work and shop. Ain't gonna happen as long as they want to go to Costco and come up with 240 disposable diapers, 48 rolls of toilet paper and 6 gallons of picante sauce.

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