Downtown Stillwater businesses should appeal to all age groups


Photo by Michael O'Gorman

It is a relatively quiet day at Leo’s. Downtown Stillwater customers dine and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Michael O'Gorman, Business Editor

Businesses in downtown Stillwater could grow their profits by appealing to all age demographics.  Downtown Stillwater businesses have a past of struggling to stay open.  Businesses such as Pub 112, Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque and Brines, all have recently closed.  In the future businesses can try to stay open by having family-friendly stores.

Downtown Stillwater Businesses that appeal to all age groups attract high school students, which should be a target demographic.  With the Stillwater Area High School five minutes away, high schoolers need places to hang out.  For example, a business such as Leo’s offers food and cheap ice cream, which makes it great for adults, but also for kids.

Leo’s owner Cory Buettner said, “We don’t have alcohol so it’s a safe place for grandparents to come with their grandchildren, you know, 16 to 17 year olds come on their first date.  And it’s kind of a nice place to be, where that doesn’t have to be part of the experience.”

Businesses in downtown Stillwater that appeal to all age groups also indirectly increase revenue by being able to hire high schoolers.  The high schoolers bring in revenue by inviting their friends and offering discounts to their friends.

When talking about high schoolers being employed at Leo’s, Leo’s employee Isaac Brown said, “I think that really boosted how many people from the high school came in, as when you know someone you can kind of get a discount.”

Downtown Stillwater businesses that appeal to all ages can also increase in attraction to tourists.  Downtown Stillwater can be a nice place for families that are not accustomed to Minnesota to visit.  Tourists are a large part of the business in Downtown Stillwater, as there are currently two hotels, and soon to be four.

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“There will be a total of four hotels downtown and we are really optimistic that will bring people to downtown Stillwater,” Buettner said.

On the contrary, some of the businesses that have closed had great reviews and were doing well.  Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque received a four out of five stars on Trip Advisor, yet they still closed.

Smalley’s owner Shan Smalley told the Stillwater Current, “there was a problem with the lease.”  He said, “I’m really sad. This is not how I wanted it to end.”

Clearly, sometimes the revenue is not a factor in whether or not the business stays open.  That still shouldn’t stop businesses from trying to profit as much as possible by advertising to all ages.

Teenagers should support businesses that are family friendly like Leo’s, Candyland, QuickFire Pizza, and more.  Teenagers supporting downtown Stillwater businesses will make other businesses in downtown Stillwater realize how much of an impact teenagers have, and sell products appealing to all.