Feel me, money? Slow money better than no money.

The issue of local businesses struggling under the muscle of established financial giants is something that concerns all those who run a business unrelated to the marketing budgets and reach of the chains, brand names and franchises dominating the market. How can we boost the turnover of local businesses? Well, its easy isn’t it? We need to innovate. What is innovation? In this case, it’s finding new, easy, and, well, innovative(?) ways of turning a buck.

But… how?

In the case of Norwegian (and I’m sure anywhere else) cafes, bars and restaurants, there is often the plight of having a snack or a drink that you want to enjoy, but that you are not allowed to bring with you into said business. “Ikke tillatt å nyte medbragt”, as we say. Translated: We sell that shit, take it outside!
The policy seems to be an international one. Bringing your own bottle of water, soda, thermos of coffee or whatever it may be, is frowned upon in the dining business.

A valid argument for this policy, is that the products sold are the only source of income, and that allowing guests to bring their own,  strongly undermines the ability to generate income at all. How can a policy like this be turned around into an incentive to spend money?

Well, they already have that shit, rent them a glass; keep them inside! But what if the only products sold are drinks, and customers bring their own water, soda or thermos of coffee or what it may be? Having too many of those, will lead to bankruptcy, won’t it?

I sometimes walk around a city, just wanting to sit down and enjoy whatever I already have, not wanting, or even having too much money to spend at a cafe or restaurant. But my feet are tired, I’m hungry, thirsty, and I’m not willing to fork out what to me at the moment is a small a fortune just to do that. But I need a seat and a snack! Now! Can you please rent me a cup or a glass, for a small, minute fee, and make that small and minute fee in the same or less time it takes to wash said cup or glass? I know you need to make money, but I have my own snack already. Can I just pay to rent a table and a chair, for a small and minute fee, and let you make that small, minute fee, in the time it takes to eat and devour a sandwich and a can of coke? There are many cups and glasses being passed across the bar on any given day. And while yours truly is the type of animal that actually enjoys walking and eating simultaneously, there are those that grab their food on the go, and want to sit down somewhere to eat it.

How many potential paying customers does one need to turn a profit? Depends on the amount of people coming by, and the price range, no?
Not to mention, the type of products and services offered by the establishment.
And the service of being so service-minded, that one offers patrons the possibility of bringing one’s own food and drink into an establishment for a small, minute fee of almost nothing, but still, a little wee tad of coin; seems not to be too widespread.

Being the Ryan Air of your industry, without turning into the Ryan Air of your industry – making the offer affordably available without becoming opportunistic and speculative in terms of the individual customers needs – is a hard nut to crack.

Boosting profits isn’t an immediate thing, unless you somehow manage to spawn an industry-changing idea before anyone else. Not many manage to have those. But to quote 50 Cent: “slow money, better than no money”. Offering to allow or introduce business practices that generate revenue, however small, where they otherwise would stifle, stop and prevent them, will, again, in however small way, still be seen on the bottom line.

How can something like a small, niche business, increase income without compromising the values of guests and patrons who might think of a revenue-oriented business as something to frown upon? The culture segment of the economy is the one most prone to ideological debate. And even though the view on capitalism is differing in different sub- and mainstream areas of various cultures; in order to have a sustainable cultural venue to promote and practice the cultural elements at hand, be it art, music, theatre, or cuisine; the costs of running a place that makes the promotion and practice of them possible, will be present. While Norway has a strong public funding of cultural institutions and initiatives, the private citizens wanting a piece of that cake, in order to somehow be able to make a living doing what drives society forward: creating, promoting and practicing cultural expression; the ones most likely to make a significant cultural contribution, are for some reason also the ones most resistant to seeing their cultural field of preference turned into a money machine.

Which is fair enough. Nobody with a message likes seeing something as pure as their genuine expression of self, their art, craft and calling, turned into a marketing scheme. But there is nothing wrong in actually being able to make a living doing those things.
Being an artist of any kind, and wanting to make a living by creating that art, is,  in most cases where one is not employed by a cultural or creative institution or business, being self-employed. “Selling out” to the market forces is to be avoided by all means. Is increasing the possibility of making it possible to make a living by doing what you love, selling out?

For niche cultural fields, like underground music venues and clubs, there is a higher probability that the reluctance to make too much money is present. But believe it or not, even the individuals in these die hard anti-capitalist parts of culture, also need to eat and pay the bills. If you have all possibility to increase your income, and by that, if not anything else, have the possibility of funding a more diverse, better and more abundant cultural menu, why the non-negotiable anti-capitalist stance?

Walking the streets of Oslo on a Sunday morning, strolling along the tracks of the tram-line, a bus is waiting for the first passengers of the day. During the day, almost all of them will leave a buck or two at a business in the area they are in. How can they help local business thrive by just having their (not so very) obvious needs met?

A business is anywhere where products, services or anything else is offered or exchanged for money. Be that a painting, album, cover charge or a pint of beer. Even if you don’t call your business a business, doing business in anyway, well, makes it a business. How can you make it a successful one, and generate the income to keep doing what you do, and over time, expand that endeavour to reach more people with your message or whatever you might have to offer?

You have to be open to making money! In any given business there are countless possibilities that are overlooked and ignored, because they appear to be negative, when in fact, any negative contains the possibility for several positives.
Like not allowing guests to bring their own bottles of water, soda, thermos of coffee or what it may be; and instead allowing them to bring their own food or drinks, and offering a cup or a glass, a table and a chair, for a minor fee, can let you make pocket change, that over time will fill that pocket and spill over into your hands without your having to reach for it.

A brick is a brick. But enough bricks turns into a house. Even more bricks turn into a village. But someone has to make the first brick, someone has to lay the first brick, and enough bricks have to be made and laid in order for that to happen. Patience in regards of how the bricks are made, and the pace in which they are laid, is what makes or breaks the possibility of the house and following village being sustainable.

The question is not whether bricks can be made, or if the village can be built. The question is whether the original villagers who saw the village rise from a single brick, are willing to let the village become a metropolitan city. Villagers rarely are.

The culture segment is one of the most profitable and dynamic areas of the local economy. The people working in and frequenting the segment are usually people driven neither by profit, nor the ability to, in the financial sense, dynamically adapt to the market they serve.
For all its radical idealism, there is a radical conservatism in the sense that one is not willing to let go of the idea that money is an evil to be avoided at all cost – while at the same time struggling to fund the costs brought about by the needs present to produce and present the expressions they offer. Be it venue rent, equipment and inventory, or the costs of buying stocks of whatever is offered for sale.

Boosting revenue can be as easy as looking at the needs of clientele that are randomly visiting on a whim and likes what’s on offer, or are potential returning visitors, but aren’t likely to spend much money right then and there. There are quite a few of them in any given village. In a metropolis, they are around every corner. The question is if the villagers in a village becoming a city, are able, or even willing, to adapt to the nasty words “the market” and offer what city-dwellers and visitors alike, need and want, and still keep the village’s characteristics that made them an interesting option to consider to begin with.
In a market there is supply and demand. The supply is supplied after the demands. The demands, however, change, and the demands are not always recognised at once. They may even have been present for ages already, but been overlooked by worries of profit being too low if the demands were met. Like in the case of the bistro that could offer to rent me a glass for 50 cents and let me have my glass of sparkled water, instead of demanding me putting my bottle back in my bag and telling me I have to buy one of theirs in order to stay there. They didn’t sell a bottle of water. But they did make 50 cents they would not have, if the glass was not for rent.

Feel me, money? Slow money better than no money.

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