I don’t have an MBA, I have not had a lot of marketing training, and I have very little practical business experience. But I think that I can spot something that’s about to tank, and our new pizza joint is well on its way. The Bumble Bee is going to surely do a nose dive and hit the ground like a bomb. It was a simultaneously sad and hilarious moment when I stepped into the Bumble Bee Pizza shop (with the following listed on the sign as well: bakery, collectibles/antiques, and chit chat). The sign alone gives all of the clues you need (and since I don’t know of anyone from Arlington VT who reads my blog, I feel a little rant coming on . . .).
Pizza may work with bakery, chit chat may work with either pizza or bakery, but the antiques/collectibles is a wild card. Limit food to the counter area only, and you have real trouble brewing right along with their 2 two pots of sludge-like coffee.
You can buy pizza, but you can’t eat it there, and the same goes with the donuts, coffee, etc. You can hold these items in a 5′ by 5′ area. If you are lucky enough to have not purchased any food, you can step into the musty, odor-blanketed room that is a simultaneous shrine to stock car racing, beer, and random collectible junk. Oh yeah, there are antiques such as a rusty saw and random glasses from somebody’s attic on shelves that probably came from an automotive warehouse. Huge stock car and beer advertisement adorn the walls, a life-size Rusty Wallace (or whoever) stealthily watches you from a dark corner, and old couches that may be good enough for a youth group drive you away with their decrepit aroma. A plastic table and matching chairs from somebody’s lawn remind you that you can’t eat your lousy food in this room, but chit chat is surely permissible . . . if you can handle the environment.
There is no continuity to the place. Are they a cafe, bakery, pizza shop, antique store, convenience store, or stock car racing shop? I want to go in there, take away the “no food beyond this point sign”, get rid of the junk on the shelves, put in some TV’s, and open the place up for stock car races on the weekend. That’s the only way I can see it remotely connecting with any segment of the market. Nobody in a Mercedes or Lexus SUV from Connecticut will stop there. No one from New York would waste time with pizza that is made with frozen crust, average sauce, and tastes no better than the grocery store variety. It’s not a place for tourists. It’s not a place for families to eat. It’s not a real bakery with cakes and lots of variety. It’s a hodge podge of different things, trying to do it all, serve everyone, and consequently serves no one.
I feel awful for the owners. I want to go over there and fill them in. But I have no experience in business, they don’t know me from Adam, and if I was in their shoes I don’t know if I would respond positively to someone who showed up as a prophet of doom who doled out advice on how to make my business a success. I was really hoping that I would have my local hang out, my third place, but I have been crushed. Yes, I am so stinking selfish. My subsequent rant on this blog was the last gasp of my hope for a nice little all-season place in Arlington. I suppose that Stewart’s will just have to do the trick for now until the Dairy Barn opens next Spring.