By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
There’s strength in numbers.
And knowledge is power.
With those truths in mind, bringing Delridge business owners together is a logical next step now that results of a recent survey are assembled and analyzed.
The results were presented last week at a gathering inside one of Delridge’s newer businesses, the beer garden/taproom Ounces (about to celebrate its first anniversary at 3809 Delridge Way SW). Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association and the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce worked with consultant David Daw on the survey.
The questions showed optimism and opportunities as well as concerns. As DNDA’s Willard Brown explained, “A big part of it was a need to figure out what the business owners wanted, from their perspective.”
(As noted in our previous coverage, the survey area did not stretch into South Delridge, so technically, it’s the North Delridge Business Survey.)
Above (or here, in PDF) you can see the final results. Backstory and highlights were part of the recent presentation:
The project started with a list of about 400 businesses from “various lists and databases,” then narrowed to 87 they wanted to survey. They obtained addresses and phone numbers and “went doorknocking,” with, as we previewed back in June, five “business district ambassadors,” who were “trained in cultural communications and survey techniques” before beginning their work.
Presenting the survey results, Daw said most businesses they contacted were “excited” to participate – though 27 said they were “too busy” to participate. So in the end, they had more than 50 respondents.
This was not a demographic survey about who the business owners are, but instead was focused on facts about the businesses, their owners’ plans, their observations. 45 percent of the respondents had been in the Delridge area six years or more. Two-thirds said the business owner was not a Delridge-area resident. More than two-thirds rent the space where they run their business. A quarter of the respondents described their businesses as being owned and operated by one person.
Asked to describe the “feel” of the Delridge area, most perceive it as positive to middling – only single-digit “bad.” Eighty percent said they were not considering moving their business to another area. Most said they believe Delridge is changing for the better. And most expect their businesses to grow in the year ahead.
Asked about crime/safety concerns, property crime was a big concern.
Are these business owners networking with their counterparts? More than half said no. Would they be interested in a neighborhood business association? A third said “yes,” more than half said “maybe,” a handful said no.
They were also asked what kind of resources they’d be interested in having access to – one definitive result, “nobody’s interested in loans.”
Asked how people learn about their businesses, the proprietors mostly said “word of mouth” (“online” was second). Asked how people get to their businesses, more than 80 percent said their customers drive; almost that many provide offstreet parking. One attendee at the presentation, though, noted that he lives in High Point and has been in the area for more tha 30 years, but has never perceived any part of the area as a real “Delridge business district … no place you can park your car and walk to six, or even three, businesses, except maybe the Andover strip mall.”
DNDA’s Brown said that “creating an identity for Delridge is critical,” and that will help address some of the issues.
Given everything heard from the respondents, Daw said he was not recommending an attempt to form a new business association at this point. But existing organizations such as DNDA and the Chamber could organize opportunities for business owners to “come together to talk about these things,” Daw said, adding that solidarity and teaming up is important because “the city will listen to a large group” – or even a group the size of the dozen or so who gathered for the announcement.
He also suggested a group of business owners meet to have a conversation with the police department about concerns including vandalism and graffiti. And he suggested a project similar to White Center Spring Clean.
Participants agreed to reconvene in the spring and see what progress has been made.