Please note that this post is not based on any complaints from local businesses. It also does not involve any food or drink provided to the volunteers and participants in the Soap Box Derby. It also does not have any thing to do with the potential Wawa coming to 11th and Fayette. It has to do with what is fair and right.
On Wednesday I went to the Soap Box Derby. I unloaded the stroller up around 10th Avenue on the west side of Fayette Street. My plan was to walk down the Fayette, take some photos, show the kid off, run into some people, cross Fayette, get some ice cream at Scoops, head up Fayette and be on our way home.
Everything was going as planned until we got down near Continental Bank and I was handed a free ice cream sandwich. Continental Bank has a very cool promotional vehicle that is an ice cream truck. How cool right? Free ice cream!
As I was finishing my free ice cream sandwich, I was about to cross Fayette and saw Scoops across the street. Someone just gave me a free ice cream sandwich right across the street from an ice cream shop!
Now, most of you do not know me or my professional background. I was in the event business from 1994 to 2009. During that time I worked on or ran everything from a professional tennis event to pro bull riding to a promotion for Ben & Jerry’s. That is right. For about five months I rode around in a Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Truck giving away free ice cream in the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area. It was a great time, except for the morning when the power tripped overnight and about 30 gallons of ice cream melted.
One of the things Ben & Jerry’s stressed was I was never to park any where near an ice cream shop. How is it being a good neighbor when you are giving away a neighboring businesses product for free. There are thousands of promotional items you can give away. Continental you could have even given away coupons for a free ice cream to Scoops. Anything but giving away a neighboring businesses product for free.
So now guilt ridden that I had eaten this free ice cream sandwich and no longer going to spend money at Scoops, we head back up Fayette Street. Now I see in front of me a Wawa tent. You can guess that this peaks my interest, so as we approach it I stop to take a photo and take a look at what they are doing promotion-wise. Wawa is giving away food and beverages!
Now you think “great right?” However, a new coffee shop (that also sells cold beverages) opened a block away from this tent, the Conshy Cafe had a tent outside selling lemonade, etc., 7-11 is there, CVS is there, etc. These businesses, and others, have to deal with the closure of Fayette Street for events and try to benefit from it. To allow an outside business to set-up a stand along Fayette and give away food and beverages is very unfair to these business.
If a concessionaire called and asked to set-up a tent along Fayette to sell beverages and food I am 100% confident that concessionaire would have been told no. So how in the world could a business be allowed to come give away beverages and food for free? It is the same situation.
Now I realize Wawa was a sponsor of the event, and that is great, and for the most part they are a food company and want to sample their food. As I mentioned before, I have a long background in the event business and the industry standard for sampling is 2 oz. Just enough to make you like it, but not enough to satisfy you. Sampling would have been fine. As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, this has nothing to do with providing the volunteers and participants free stuff. That is to be commended.
So, to the organizers of Soap Box Derby, and other events on Fayette Street, please consider the businesses that surround your event when discussing with sponsors their plans. Wawa and Continental Bank, when deciding what to do promotionally, consider how people are tying to make a living right around you.
That is all.