RetroRick July 8, 2012 @ 12:31 p.m.

The problem for small town merchants like me is not a the lack of government studies, committees, subcommittees, subsidies and economic plans sponsored by out-of-town politicians done by out-of-town consultants who have never operated a shop or anything other than their laptop and a slide show.

The problem is the low volume of retail customer traffic driven by the smallness of the small town itself, further dilution of traffic by malls and chain-led shopping centers, online retailers and the weak economy, essentially in that order.

Downtown Fallbrook has an alarmingly high retail vacancy rate and has taken on the early symptoms of becoming a retail ghost town like so many thousands in history before it. However, the merchants that remain here do so because they provide something not easily, if ever, found elsewhere. We provide unusual goods along with a passionate level of personal, owner-led customer service that customers cannot find in chain stores or online. We provide an engaging retail experience that first-time consumers were not aware even existed but are always excited to discover. Downtown Fallbrook is a goldmine of such retail excellence, but most of that gold is largely undiscovered.

While annual festivals and periodic classic car events are nice, the traffic benefits received are both incidental and temporary. Yet the experience we small merchants provide is both ongoing and permanent. It simply needs the opportunity for its discovery by consumers from near and afar and in its own right.

My goal is to make my shop worth the drive from anywhere. I’m sure I’m not alone. If the government truly wants to support small business and entrepreneurs in the small towns that they otherwise leave for dead, then instead of taxing us it can do precisely the opposite and create tax-free enterprise zones by forgoing all sales tax collection and identifying places like downtown Fallbrook as retail sales tax havens. No one wants to pay taxes anyway and sales tax holidays are a proven retail business builder used tactically. They can be a bonanza for small towns when used strategically. The effect would be an offer of a field-leveling discount that will drive destination-specific demand and retail customer traffic day in, day out. This is a simple and effective way to get consumers to discover and try us out. The rest is up to us.


bohemianopus July 4, 2012 @ 7:51 a.m.

Great article! I've never been to Fallbrook, but now I intend to visit.

It is a shame that the old concept of a "downtown" is disappearing. I hope they can keep the "charm" as long as possible.


Ruth Newell July 4, 2012 @ 6:23 p.m.

Don't go on a Monday--many of the shops downtown are closed! Thanks for reading, Bohemianopus.


nan shartel June 24, 2012 @ 9:53 a.m.

i love the idea of a more natural unrefined commercially town...i say if Fallbrook is happy being the way it is then let it be

it's all about charm...and Fallbrook has an abundance of charm

i lived for 16 years in a small town that was fast fading into a spare landscape

but 16 years later it was still going strong...just a little jewel of a city 40 miles south of the Columbia had a pharmacy..2 gas stations 2 markets...a newspaper... and about 1000 permanent resident who bought local and liked it that way

over the years new happened...the hotel was refurbished...a radio station was founded...a pizza deli opened ...the hotel opened a fine dining room serving free range everything

many would say that town limped along....but the residents would say it was just taking a leisurely stroll into the future



Visduh July 18, 2012 @ 7:20 p.m.

Excellent report! I'd guess that what you revealed here is about 90% of the homicide case against the three. Why did it take so long to pry all of it loose? Oh, I know, it is that it would contaminate the jury pool. (As if more than a small minority of potential jurors pay any attention to these cases, or read any newspaper, or [sadly] avail themselves of the Reader.)


SurfPuppy619 July 18, 2012 @ 8:55 p.m.

There is pleny of evidence from just what I read-just from the cell phone use in Fallbrook. Thye are done, all of them.


Don Bauder Nov. 17, 2016 @ 9:14 p.m.

Sportsfan0000: I agree: Spanos should sell the Chargers to a billionaire who will build a stadium without public funds, but with public input as to location., Best, Don Bauder


ImJustABill Nov. 12, 2016 @ 7:08 a.m.

Don thank you for all the excellent reporting over the years regarding stadium subsidies. You've consistently provided and refered to many data and analyses which showed how misleading many of the NFL's and Spanos' claims have been.


Don Bauder April 27, 2014 @ 9:28 p.m.

CaptD: Infrastructure might win, but council will ignore the will of the people. Best, Don Bauder


CaptD April 27, 2014 @ 4:51 p.m.

Future stadium marketing ploy:


Which of these City Projects would you support?

__ New Stadium for San Diego's Best Team

__ Road and sidewalk repair

__ Toilet to tap water reclamation


Don Bauder April 27, 2014 @ 12:37 p.m.

rehftmann: There is supposedly an investigation of the Balboa Park flop. But will it be an investigation or coverup? Almost certainly the latter. What were some of the people doing who were being paid very well to work on the Balboa celebration? You would be surprised. Best, Don Bauder


MURPHYJUNK April 27, 2014 @ 9:43 a.m.

I wonder how much unreported money is spent to buy politicians to decide in favor of these things ?


Don Bauder April 27, 2014 @ 10:01 a.m.

Murphyjunk: Once the money has gone under the table, and the ads run, the next step is ex post factor statistically justifying the expenditure. The creativity that requires is more impressive than the creativity that goes into making the ads. Best, Don Bauder


rehftmann April 27, 2014 @ 9:53 a.m.

Is this a teaching moment? It doesn't matter; you can't shut up a professor. Pencils ready? Title: Beyond Hooey There are four classic channels for promoting revenue, with no bright lines between. Public Relations: everything you do that isn't sales Direct Marketing: Media appeals including a closer, typically reinforced by urgency (cents off today) Sales: Individualized negotiation aiming to close a deal Advertising: Here's the thing people misunderstand. Advertising neither asks for the order nor delivers information. It is an emotional appeal (Attraction) that precedes the sales negotiation (Bargain) that leads to a deal (Close). Easy as A B C, but notice that "advertising" is an expense with no direct, much less indirect, connection to sales. In the case of San Diego tourism advertising (regional, Zoo, Sea World) the appeals are so diffuse and incoherent as to be immeasurable. That is just the thing for an emotional appeal for a bigger budget. Hennessey's suggestion is a good test of the "some's good, more's better" argument. It also begs the question, what is San Diego doing in the other three channels. Answer: Shooting itself in the foot with corruption and sex scandals while Balboa Park's centennial celebration turns to, Mr Bauder's excellent word, hooey. That was a unique proposition that could have filled all four channels. It worked so well a century ago, we're still coasting on that deal. Too little, too late now. Pencils down. We all fail.


Don Bauder April 26, 2014 @ 9:11 p.m.

ImJustABill: Agreed -- a piece of work. But he didn't walk away with $700 million to $1 billion by buying ballpark real estate at early 1990s prices and selling it to developers for far higher prices, as Moores did, thanks to the city council. Spanos would like to pull off a similar stunt, and he will have help from the corporate welfare crowd that once again controls San Diego. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 26, 2014 @ 9:14 p.m.

shirleyberan: Even Fox is backing away from Bundy after his remarks about African-Americans. It will be interesting to see how media, the NBA, the players association, Clipper players, other players, and fans handle this one if Sterling actually made such remarks. Sterling keeps proving he is a jerk. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 27, 2014 @ 2:58 p.m.

Murphyjunk: Maybe owners should be given an IQ test while players take a drug test. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 28, 2014 @ 7:18 a.m.

ImJustABill: First, Moores got completely off the hook for showering gifts on the councilwoman. It stunk. Then, after dumping $650 million of Peregrine stock -- almost all he controlled -- before the fraud revelation, an even sleazier deal was arranged and he and the board got off with a modest fine. Both were San Diego justice epitomized. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 27, 2014 @ 9:47 p.m.

Visduh: I can think of few things more repugnant than being a real estate developer and a pro sports team owner. Best, Don Bauder


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