No dashboard, just an ironing board
Posted on June 14, 2011
As if to renounce one more convention of business, a Berkeley-area businessperson I know couldn’t find data, so he went out and got some of his own. He had to evaluate market areas.
For three days, he stood by an ironing board with a map on top in front of the Cheese Board in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. Each customer coming in or out got handed two stick-on dots, red to mark home and blue to mark work. His map quickly revealed patterns and commute routes.
It was easy. “Everybody’s curious,” said Terry Baird, who had made a career of cooperative/collective food retailing. He had sold advertising for 10 years, and later found himself appointed to unravel the bankruptcy of a once-huge food distributor, an experience he calls “my MBA.” He approached it all without training, only logic and nerve, such as with the ironing board. “It’s like running a three-card monte. A group gathers around you.”
In 1996, he was part of a newly formed collective inspired by the Cheese Board. The new collective trained there as they decided on the new store’s location.
Terry’s question: would any of the proposed locations for a new store overlap another store’s market area?
In three days, he had the answer. On weekdays, none overlapped. But on Saturdays, all did; that’s when people drove in from all over the Bay Area.
The best software might be the kind made without starch.