Business Brainscramblers

If I was a genius I’d be a zillionaire, which I’m not, so take this with a grain of salt, but there are some business models I don’t get.  For instance, today I saw an ad for a plumbing outfit with “23-hour emergency service.”

I actually thought this was a joke, or a typo.  so I looked up their website.  It’s the real deal.  It’s on their website:

I have for the last twenty minutes tried to figure out why a company would have emergency service for 23 hours, but not 24.  I’m flummoxed.  If you’re already covering 23 out of 24 hours, that means you have already expended money on an answering service, a forwarding tree, and paying someone to work the night shift.  Why not just run through the tape and cover that extra hour?  Are they superstitious about one particular hour?  Do they not like even numbers?   Why would you not cover that hour?  Is there literally no plumber in this metropolitan area of six million people willing to work that one hour?

I Googled “24 hour emergency plumber” and there’s a lot of people around here who offer that, so there is clearly no legal or regulatory barrier to them covering 100 percent of the clock instead of just 95.83 percent of it.  I find this mystifying.  Is it that they won’t tell you what hour they don’t cover, so they can take the night off and the next day tell you, “oh, you called at the wrong hour.  That was the one hour that we didn’t service YOU.”

This got me to thinking about the astounding number of pizza places near my house.

Mangia! Mangia!

We live in the downtown of a large-ish city so you’d expect to have a fair number of pizza joints around, but on the one street near us with restaurants there are no less than EIGHT pizza joints.  From the first one to the last is a distance of less than one thousand metres.  If you bought a slice of pizza at one place and started walking down the street there is no point at which you would have enough time to eat your pizza before you had arrived at the next pizza place.  Just in the two years I have lived here three have opened up, and two are across the street from existing ones.  There is no Indian restaurant on the strip despite a desperate need for one, no fish and chip place, no coffee house that’s ever open (there is a stupid cookie/coffee place open just 30 hours a week; don’t ask me why) and no steak house, but a zillion pizza places.  I know people like pizza but none of them seem especially busy so there does not appear to be an unfilled demand, and there are commercial areas in the general vicinity that have no pizza places at all.  If you were going to open a pizzeria, why would you open it within a literal stone’s throw of another, when you could open it in a place there aren’t any?  It’s not just pizza joints, either; some people opened a tea house on the same street a few years ago, and then some other people opened another tea house literally two doors down.  They’re twenty feet apart.  They could have opened it a mile away.  Why?

Now, perhaps the greatest retail mystery of all is; why are there so many goddamn paint stores?  There are, a short walk from my house, two independent paint stores, which are themselves maybe a two minutes drive from a Home Depot and a Rona.  There is nothing on this earth you need for painting that you can’t buy in a Home Depot, including high quality paint; you don’t have to go cheap there, you can buy the nice stuff.  How the paint stores stay in business is a complete mystery to me.  It’s not contractors, because every contractor I have ever known buys from a big box stores.  And a big box store offers the convenience of being able to buy other stuff too.  It’s as if you have a grocery store, and across the street you had a store that just sold frozen vegetables.  I don’t get it, and I’m going to actually go to a paint store soon to figure out what the hell’s going on, once I get a spare hour and I feel like it.

What business mystifies you?  Or can you explain this paint store thing for me?

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