Opening up: Weekend hours paying offPublished 9:23pm Monday, February 25, 2013
Plantation House owner Tony Keech started out with only weekday hours. When customers complained they had nowhere to eat after church on Sundays, the restaurant added a Sunday shift.
Since opening South Market Antiques a couple of years ago, owner Pat Lewis has opened the store on several Sundays, when she had some free time.
“People would say, ‘Thanks for being open today.’ We get a lot of out-of-towners, like from Raleigh, and people want something more to do on Sundays,” Lewis said.
Flexible hours are part of the beauty of small businesses, for the customers as well as the owners.
Vincenso Cillufo said he and his brother, Antonio, changed their hours at Frank’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant, to spend more time with family. To the delight of their employees, the Cillufo brothers opted to close Saturdays.
Beth Byrd, director of the Washington Harbor District Alliance, said she could understand those changes.
Frank’s Pizza has been around long enough to have an established client base, and Sundays have become one of the biggest days of the week for the eatery.
“It might make sense for Pamlico House since they’re trying to catch the commuters,” Byrd said.
WHDA just completed a webinar with Roger Brooks, who has helped more than 1,000 communities develop and market their downtowns.
The tourism guru touched on store hours.
“Brooks said 70 percent of consumer spending happens after 6 p.m.,” Byrd said.
WHDA targets Thursdays and Fridays for many of its events because people are more likely to go out to eat and attend an event downtown on those days, Byrd added.
The organization recently started the Shop, Dine & Play campaign to attract people within a 50-mile radius of downtown to consider visiting the area for shopping and dining.
Byrd said a lot of mom-and-pop businesses need to take Sundays off, but she would like to see more of them consider evening hours.
“We’re not there yet,” Lewis said. “I’m hoping business will grow so, hopefully, I can expand the hours.”
Extending the hours would mean hiring a second shift.
“You have to pay people to be here. Right now, I’m already here seven days a week,” she said.
The official hours of South Market Antiques and co-tenants Little Shoppes of Washington are Mondays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., but they typically open their doors at 10 a.m. on Saturdays and never miss an Art Walk or Music in the Streets event.
Lewis moved from Market Street to the new Main Street location about three weeks ago. She said the move, not the extended hours, has had the greatest impact on foot traffic.
“I’ve probably seen more people on Main Street in a few days than I saw on Market Street in a month,” Lewis said.