Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Price is Right

There's an old saying about "knowing the price of everything, but the value of nothing."

Today's case in point is Wilkes-Barre, but it can apply to several places here in our area.

In years past, we were told Wilkes-Barre was offering free parking at downtown noon til 8 PM, during the Christmas shopping season because it's good for business and good for shoppers.

Now, we're told the program is being killed because people stay at the meters too long, and it's not good for shoppers and business.

Well, which one is it?  Wilkes-Barre is in the middle of a financial mess, and even though city officials say that has nothing to do with it, you have to raise a skeptical eyebrow.

If that isn't enough, parking meter rates are going up, to $1 an hour.

Offering free or inexpensive parking makes good business sense.  It's like the supermarket offering cheap soda.  It's a loss leader.  While you're in the market buying your drinks, you know you're going to pick up a bag of Frito's, and the market makes its money back.  Apparently, that concept stops at Wilkes-Barre.

There aren't a lot of stores downtown, and the city has an image problem.  Don't do something to keep shoppers away.

The city needs to update, and do it quickly.  Most decent sized cities have those stations where you can buy a parking pass for a couple hours and slap it on your dashboard.  You don't have to drive in to the city with a pocket full of change.

The solutions are so close, and right there.  It's a shame no one has the vision to see them.