Community in a Parking Lot
56 parking spots sounds like a lot. Think about how many people (or clowns) you could fit in 56 cars. Seems like enough to support the employees and customers of a pizza place, a hair salon, a bank, a few offices, and a coffee shop.
As it turns out, it isn’t.
Just about any Arrow regular can tell you that finding a parking spot while getting your coffee fix is anything but a given. People tell me everyday that they were gonna come get coffee, but couldn’t find a place to park.
As a business owner, this is obviously frustrating. The lack of parking options in and around the complex my business is located is literally costing me money every day, But there are some larger issues at play here.
Arrow has always been about community first, which is hard to define, but i think this situation gives us a good example.
In thinking about how to address this as a business, We thought a lot about the prevailing wisdom that guides businesses. It turns out that our problem and solution is fairly simple;
1. People drive to Arrow
2. People cannot find a parking spot at Arrow
3. People do not go inside Arrow and spend money
The common sense solution to this problem would be to regulate our parking lot. Hire parking monitors, put up signs, tow cars, ticket people, and generally burn bridges by causing trouble for people. It says, "If you cost me money, I'm going to cost you money, or at least make life more uncomfortable for you".
The conventional wisdom tells us that the money we would make in doing so is more important than the negative effect it would have on people.
Then I had a thought: What if we reject convention?
What if (I know this is crazy) we just be nice to people and hope that they are nice in return.
Here is where community comes in.
Community, to us, is about placing higher value in people, and seeing how our actions affect them. It is about treating problems, not symptoms. It is saying that conventional wisdom isn’t good enough, and finding creative ways to address things.
Ok, So we know what Community is in an abstract sense, but what does it look like?
To us, It looks like people respecting each other.
Like someone who thinks twice about taking up a parking spot for 3 hours while in class.
Like someone who walks or bikes to the coffee shop instead of driving to avoid taking up a spot, or like a group of friends who carpool instead of each driving their own cars.
And it looks like a businesses putting people before profit.
Like a business simply asking its customers not to leave their cars in the parking lot for hours, rather than having them towed.
Arrow is about community. It is about bringing people together. We want to be a place that people are proud to go. A place that makes its community proud.
If at all possible, we want to lead our community towards respect and away from divisiveness.
So, if you consider yourself a part of the Arrow community, think about how many times you’ve circled our parking lot looking for a spot, and if you can do anything to avoid causing that for someone else.
A few things we’d like to offer to incentive you to do you part
Biking/ walking discount: Tell your Barista that you chose to ride your bike or walk to the shop today, and we’ll give you 10% off your drink!
Carpool Discount: Carpool with a friend to Arrow and you and your friend both get 10% off your drinks!
Social Media Fun: Any time you post a photo on Instagram or make a Tweet or Facebook post relating to the Arrow parking lot, Tag Arrow and use #communityparkingmhk for an extra chance to win free coffee for the month of May! Start now by sharing this blog entry!
One thing I believe and have seen to be true in my time at Arrow is that if we all do everything we can for our communities, our community will take care of us in return.