Jul 11

Micro Retail Coming to a Suburb Near You

Some cities, towns and villages are paying close attention to the question: how do you create sustainable local economies.

One of the ways you do that is to dump or modify your overly restrictive zoning codes in order to allow creativity of your residents to flourish.

The city of Ottawa led by urban planner, Alain Miguelez, is studying how to incorporate micro retail, defined as sales to local residents who can walk or bike to a mini store in a home’s garage, basement, outbuilding, attic, living room, into the urban fabric and their zoning codes.

I took the above picture while riding my e-bike, three blocks from our home.


This is a micro retail location selling pool supplies from a garage. Mini stores that meet the walkability test (ie, they don’t require a car trip and vehicle parking) might include a local bakery making fresh croissant, say, or an art store that doubles as a school. 

The reason I include the latter is that I’ve just read a Bloomberg Businessweek story on a company called Paint Nite, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-01/how-paint-nite-is-saving-the-american-bar


“People show up to drink while an instructor slowly guides them, step-by-step, through the creation of a prechosen design. Based on growth, it was rated the No. 1 franchise in Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list.”

At the end of each session, students take home their own “masterpieces” to show their families and friends as well as decorate their homes. The most popular work so far is reproduction of Brian Wintersteen’s Japanese Cherry Blossom. All paintings copied in class are original works created for Paint Nite, so they don’t infringe on any other artist’s copyright.


Who would have thought that two guys who are not artists could create a company worth $39 million in just three years:

After starting Paint Nite in March 2012 for $7,000—paint brushes aren’t that expensive—and figuring it would be a side gig, Hermann and McGrail discovered they were in a massive-cash-flow business: This January, they posted revenue of more than $4 million on sales per month of 155,000 tickets in more than 2,600 bars in 1,200 cities and towns.”

@ profbruce @ quantum_entity

ps I bought a dozen golf balls from the local micro store shown above. I gave them away the following weekend during a ninja real estate course I give. Good student work earned one golf ball; they needed to four to graduate. 

pps More about how to animate a community here, https://profbruce.tumblr.com/post/114222259189/how-to-animate-a-community

ppps Why rural settlement may yet make a comeback, https://profbruce.tumblr.com/post/113687357419/why-rural-settlement-may-make-a-comeback

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About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.