Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Ed's Food Market is closing

From Anonymous:

When I went to get something for lunch yesterday, I saw that Ed's Food Market is closing. The cashier indicated the reason was that business had fallen off sharply since the standdown. I see this as a very worrisome indicator of the damage done to both the lab and the town by Nanos's reckless policies.

Unfortunately their story doesn't sound true. If they are looking for the real reasons why they closed, they could probably find them in their pricing and quality. They were consistently twice as expensive as Smith's. Smiths's is already overpriced so that should tell you something.

This is like the McDonald's in White Rock closing due to 9/11. That's a bunch of garbage. They closed due to poor quality and non-existant customer service.
Linking the market closing to Pete is a stretch.
This town isn't consumer friendly. If you lived up here you would know that. Merchants think that because they are here, they can plate everthing in gold and charge accordingly. Have any of you purchased eye glasses from the local vendors for personal use?
Also, Metzgers has a habit of overcharging for items (innovative tipping system) that if you don't watch the receipts, you get nailed. The restaurants are overpriced and limited selection, not to mention boarding up on weekends.
The chamber of commerce tries to get people to shop locally but they can't get the merchants to provide good service, so it turns into a vicious cycle.
Blame someone besides Pete for this one.
12:44 and 12:48 nailed this one. Nuff said.
Ed's Food Store was for many years owned and operated by a couple of fellows who were close relatives. Not that long ago, they sold the business to the current owners. Some people seem to have a knack for running businesses better than other folks...
"Ed"... hmmm... that name rings a bell...

Any chance this "Ed" is our own famous "Eduardo de Los Alamos"?

Hmm.. isn't his "Black Hole" in an old grocery store? Didn't he once own/operate a grocery store at that location?

When Smith's moved to WR from the building Ed's is in, maybe Eduardo opened Ed's?

I wonder what Eduardo has to say about all of our doings?

Ed, are you listening? Time to weigh in!
Actually the lab’s policies do have a fairly significant impact on the town’s merchants. For example, the 9/80 working plan effectively kills business in town on Friday, leaving merchants trying to make a living essentially on a four-day week (since LA weekend volume is low). Not only is the Friday volume down at lunch places and stores shopped at lunch time, but the hotel occupancy drops starting Thursday night because lab people learn not to schedule meetings with out-of-town people on Friday, since some of the key participants are likely not to be in. More than that, since people are working 9 hour days, they tend to take shorter lunches at their desk to make the day shorter, killing yet more lunchtime business in town. This is not theoretical. The LA Chamber of Commerce tracks these figures and has real supporting data on this.

Similarly the lab’s decision to hire into LANL many of the contractors supporting the lab has had a profound (negative) impact on the LA county tax base, and LANL’s change in the purchasing system hurt some of our other businesses, and effectively drove R Books out of business.

And if you think this is bad, wait until the lab goes through with its new road restrictions – that will really kill businesses.

Unfortunately, LANL management and the NNSA seem to be largely oblivious to the effects some of their unilateral decisions have on the community.
R Books was driven out of business for the same reason as Ed's. High prices, lousy selection, etc...
R Books was LOUSY all right. I went in to order a book. I had the TITLE and the AUTHOR and was told the book didn't exist. Plus the place always had a funky smell......
I’m impressed. Not only are you scientists, but you are experts in retail marketing as well. In fact, out in the real world where businesses don’t get fat government grants with no deliverables and no deadlines, and really have to deliver services to customers and show a profit so as to be able to pay the staff and pay the lease and pay the taxes, etc. etc, etc., things are not as neat as you all seem to assume.

Things cost more up here because business volume is lower, so the staff pay and rent and all have to be amortized over fewer sales. Selection is lower up here because it takes more customers to justify keeping more stock – stock that doesn’t turn over very fast costs $$$$. On top of that, there is lots of serious competition from larger markets off the hill, like Espanola and Santa Fe, which are markets big to enough to produce higher turnover and thus lower prices.

Los Alamos is a hard market for retailers, and I suspect most of you who are so critical of the businesses up here couldn’t keep a retail business open more then a month or two before going under, so let’s be a little more realistic.
Regarding the 5/4/2005 05:00:36 PM post: I find that the Los Alamos merchants are not very "customer friendly." I once showed up at ONE MINUTE after 5:00 PM to pick up my dog from the vet who was boarding him. They said that pickups were limited to 5:00 PM and I would have to come back the next day. Of course, I never set foot in that place again.

Yes, I think it is a stretch to blame the demise of Ed's market on Admiral Butthead.
Speaking of one of our retailers, while Nanos is not directly to blame for the sorry state of retail here in town, LANL policies are. Walk through our little strip malls and count how many storefronts are devoted to retail sales (few, services (Curves, hairdressers, etc.) empty (many), and how many are devoted to either LANL offices or to LANL remoras.

Many of the retail space landlords won't even talk to you if you want retail space - they would rather have the space sit empty for a year or two (remember DeColores behind Baskin Robbins?) than to rent it to a retailer.

The lab and the cost-plus contractors that support the lab bid up the retail space rents so that just keeping the doors open is a challenge.

As for prices, one of the previous posters explained the ECON-101 problem of sales volume vs. overhead. I shop at Metzgers (and no, I have no financial interest in Metzgers) because of convenience (remember transaction costs from ECON-101?) and because when I'm in the middle of a project on a Sunday afternoon, I know that I can get something that will work at the Metzgers in White Rock. It may not be optimal, and it might be a buck more expensive than Lowes or Home Depot, but they've usually got something I can use to finish the job.

Many of our residents have never outgrown their graduate student mentality - and Wal-Mart and Target are great value places to shop.

We have found that relationship marketing works here, and that we can't compete against Wal-Mart (or the internet). We compete on quality products, customer satisfaction, and full service. We can't afford to compete on price.

If you wanted to revitalize retail in Los Alamos, you would act on Nano's threat to pull the lab people back across the bridge and reinstate the 9/80 week. I'll belive it when I see it.
5:00 pm

What's your point? If it's such a tough market for retailers, why do you (or others) keep trying to run a retail business up here? If someone told me the business would fold in 1 or 2 months, why would I even invest in it?
"If it's such a tough market for retailers, why do you (or others) keep trying to run a retail business up here?"

If the lab is such a rough place to work, why do you (or others) keep working there? When you answer that, you will know wht retailers keep trying ....
I personally work for the paycheck. Of course, I don't think the lab will fold in a month or two, but you never know.
The high prices at Ed's didn't change during the standdown. The people who shop there are the ones for whom the price to convenience trade off works - both now and before.

Apparently there was a sharp drop off in business while correlated with the standdown. Of the above comments, the loss of 9/80 argument should have increased business, which may have been ofset by the change in ownership. With the caveat that the postings don't indicate whether the change in ownership happened in the same timeframe as the standdown, it looks like this may be evidence that people are more price conscious, indicating a concern about their economic future.

Talking with my friends, there are several who are putting off purchases or economizing in other ways because they are making a decision about changing jobs, which has everything to do with the director.

Thus it looks like this is may well be an economic indicator of people's concerns about their futures if LANL stays on the current path. Are other businesses noticing a falloff in high-end purchases?
My kid lost her dolly the other day. Now she's broken hearted. Let's blame that on Nanos, too.
That's not fair. Nanos had nothing to do with her losing her dolly.
To the 5/4/2005 10:58:46 PM poster, what is this about fair? The Admiral's behavior has been far from fair. Why should we treat him any differently than he treats us?

Anyway, "fair" is a four-letter word. You have to use those so that the Admiral understands what you are saying.
Bring in a sprawl mart Supercenter. I see more folks from the hill at Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, and Costco.

Los Alamos needs to wake up and go the way of the rest of the world.
I have been a regular at Ed's and the place has been bad since at least the fire (when I got here). I remember the owners saying they were looking to close back in 2003 and they were saying that business had gone bad since the fire. Then it was 9-11.. I think it is just that the small grocer really cant compete pricewise in this town. Especially when it is cheaper to go to Walmart in a 5mpg SUV than buy intown.
One contributing factor to the retail woes of Los Alamos is the fact that this town is completely artificial. It has none of the normal infrastructure of a "natural" town, from space to population to traffic. Thus, it does not seem surprising to me that normal market forces have created a less-than-flourishing retail climate. This would be like asking a salt water aquarium to maintain itself. I would certainly be happy to see vibrant retail in Los Alamos, but it would likely have to be sustained by some "unnatural" market force which would have to be deliberately imposed by county government or the lab. Like many human constructions, retail markets are subject to instabilities. If an item is unavailable in town because a retailer has gone out of business, the consumer will be forced to go out of town to Santa Fe (for example). Once the consumer has made the investment in a trip down the hill, it is only logical that they will go ahead and shop for everything they need in Santa Fe which has more selection and better prices (it is, after all, a "natural" town that has flourished for centuries), thus sapping still more retail business from Los Alamos, leading to more retail closures, leading to more trips to Santa get the idea. Only deliberate pro-retail action of some form can counter the invisible hand.
To 5/5/2005 09:43:03 PM:

Please send this comment to the Los Alamos Monitor. It is the best explanation of the retail problems I have seen.
I've got an idea. Let's turn Ed's food market into LAO North. Everyone wins except the American Taxpayer.
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