Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Business Models I Don't Get

Every morning, coming out of Penn Station in lovely midtown Manhattan, I pass a bunch of guys with signs touting their bus trips to the outlet mall in Woodbury Common. These trips seem to run about $35.

And I can't understand why this is a viable business at all.

If you're already in Manhattan, one of the pieces of land on Earth most densely packed with retail opportunities -- and which is very well covered with mass transit to get you to those retail opportunities -- why on earth would you pay that much to take a bus an hour north to a wind-swept plain where you can buy things at very similar prices to the place where you already are?

Maybe people enjoy the bus, but it looks to me like a tax on not realizing the actual opportunities in the city itself. I find it hard to believe you can't get 99% of the products for sale there as cheap or cheaper in the city itself. (Yes, if you're spending thousands of dollars, the extra NYC tax probably adds up. But if you're spending thousands of dollars, you're a) not doing it in an outlet mall and 2) not riding on a bus.)

(Note: I have been to Woodbury Common, more than once, because I live in the suburbs and own a car. But I'd be blissfully happy never to go there again. It has no appeal besides the raw ability to spend money on goods: it's generally cold and windy and mostly outdoors.)

1 comment:

AndyHat said...

My husband is Chinese, and when his friends visit America, they have to visit New York, and that visit has to include a visit to Woodbury.

They do spend thousands of dollars there (I still don't understand how it's cheaper to buy stuff in the US when it's all made in China, but the savings is apparently huge so they save up for their US shopping trips and go crazy). They also are fine with taking a bus to get there (they don't drive, so rental cars are out, and taxi/uber all the way out to Woodbury would be crazily expensive).

A couple weeks ago while my husband was playing tour guide for a friend from Shanghai, they took the bus out to Woodbury to be there when it opened at 9am, and barely caught the 9:30pm bus back to the city. They didn't even break for meals.

He tells me that the deals out at Woodbury often are better than you can find in the city (apparently Century 21 has been disappointing lately).

So shopping at Woodbury doesn't replace shopping in the city, but it definitely augments it for shopping-focused tourists.

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