My Turn: Trying to park in December would be a fairer test
I read with great interest the front-page article in the June 4 Monitor regarding parking in downtown Concord.
While somewhat informative and wonderful to see that so many of your staff enjoy going to the Barley House as much as I do, I found the general conclusions that it’s really no problem parking in downtown Concord a bit troubling. As a retail business and property owner in downtown Concord, I think having lots of available parking on a hot weekend in June is a plus, but I doubt you would find the same situation present in December, especially when the Legislature is in session.
Why is this such an important distinction? Most retail business rely heavily upon the Christmas season to stay afloat. Bad weather and a lack of parking during the all-important Christmas season can spell disaster for many of us, as December sales can account for nearly 30 percent of annual sales. When looking at the fourth quarter of the year in the case of my business, it accounts for nearly 50 percent of annual sales. Abundant, convenient parking is vitally important to the survival of a retail business; without it many of us would not be able to earn a living. And for this very reason is why most Main Street business owners are so excited about heated sidewalks, but little else.
If the goal of the complete streets project is to turn downtown Concord into downtown Manchester, a place where there is an abundance of office workers and restaurants but little to no retail business, then eliminating convenient parking is the way to go. If we want to continue to have a thriving downtown that includes a balanced mix of office, retail, restaurant and recreational space, I would suggest taking a harder look at the design and making sure that is does not unduly harm the interests of retail business owners.
(Jeffrey Bart owns the Granite State Candy Shoppe in Concord.)