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The failed businesses of old-time Phoenix


I was out noodling around early on this morning, and since I love to wander, I went on roads less travelled, and roads well traveled. I took the pic at the top of this post because the combination of the name and the food sold made me smile. And then I got to thinking about failed businesses in old-time Phoenix, of which I've seen a lot. It's actually on Grand Avenue in Peoria, which is a suburb of Phoenix.

I'm an old Marketing guy, and while I can make recommendations to clients, and design ads, I really don't know what makes for a successful business. To me, it's like a hit song or movie, sometimes it comes as a complete surprise. And sometimes even when everything seems to be done correctly, it's a dud.

My first thought was that maybe I would have advised the owners of a Chinese Buffet to change the name from El Catracho to something more appropriate, but hey, it could have worked. Obviously it didn't, as I went past the building, which was boarded up, and looked like it had been for some time, probably years.

Other than Minneapolis, where I grew up and barely the remember, the only other place I've lived is Los Angeles. And I go back there very often, and I rarely see businesses boarded up, and old signs fading away. I've always attributed that to the crush of humanity that lives there, but hey, Phoenix has had a lot of people for a long time, and I still see a LOT of failed businesses. And El Catracho was on a VERY busy street.

There's obviously no law that requires a business to take down its sign after it fails. The only time I've ever seen that is on gas station signs by the freeway, and I'd imagine that that's a safety issue. Someone seeing a gas station sign in the distance can be in big trouble if they get there and are completely out of gas. For the rest of the businesses, like the one at the top of this post, it's just an annoyance, and tends to discourage traffic from stopping along that stretch of road. If you saw that sign and were hungry for a Chinese Buffet from the Honduras, and found that the building was all boarded up after you had pulled in, chances are you wouldn't stop for any businesses along that area. And the surrounding businesses suffer.

I have no idea how much it costs to put your business name on a sign. As someone who hesitates to go to the Dollar Store too often, it boggles my mind. And the cost of erasing a name would probably be almost as expensive. And then the city would have blank signs! And since a failed businesses doesn't exactly have a lot of money to spend, the expense would have to be paid for by the city.

Yes, Phoenix has always had failed businesses. I guess it's part of the "unrealistically optimistic" attitude that built that town.

Image at the top of this post: Grand Avenue just north of Peoria Avenue, Peoria, Arizona. You're looking northeast.

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