As you know, the city of London is hosting the ISU World Figure Skating Championships. (I thought it very funny that one website said it was “the Olympics of figure skating” meaning I assume, that it was the pinnacle of the sport, but I am pretty sure the Olympics are in fact the Olympics of figure skating and still, the pinnacle of the sport!) This is a huge event to be held in our fair city, and I know we are going to make it a success. However, a small issue has popped up in the past couple of weeks: issue described first, and if you keep reading you will see what your friendly neighbourhood Morrissey House is going to do for you!
Quick recap, please excuse the staccato rhythm. First the London Free Press points out that Impark will have fan friendly parking for the upcoming World Championships! Then Impark posts their pricing…not really what I would define “fan friendly” as! Small outcry on Twitter (mainly by us, haha) at this point, and then came the next Freeps article regarding Impark’s soaring prices and yes, soaring as one would define it. No mention of the previous week’s article either, which we thought a little strange, nor comments from the City’s Orest Katolyk who spoke glowingly about Impark in the original article. Nor comments from the mayor who wasn’t very happy during the 2011 Brier when people coming downtown and using the Impark lots were charged $20. A good POV article is here and for once, comments are actually not mind-numbingly, off the charts crazy! More people in on the discussion now as you can see in those same comments, and on Twitter of course, but I do not think anyone’s mind is going to be changed- and really, nor should they! A business has the right to do what they like with said business…one hopes the fallout makes people talk! (and also end up in a book like this, at least the (Un)awesome side!
I think I may have been more dismayed by the champions of the core, Downtown London, and that might even be too strong a word, mainly because we love them so! Impark can be expected to be Impark- and nothing less/more. They are who we thought they were! For example, in the lot next to us, which Impark manages, there is a sign that lets people know that the lot is a pay lot. The sign is turned away from drivers who enter, in a spot that in winter is covered by a snow bank and does not allow for parking, and in the summer, the same sign is covered by overhanging leaves/branches of a tree. I called Impark, wrote them an email as well, but nothing has changed. It has been two years of people being ticketed…and I really think Impark is ok with that, which I find fascinating as a small business owner…but I digress.
I wrote a tweet about the parking fees, “Here’s a great way to showcase Canada’s London! Impark, $25 parking fee during the World’s. Cheaper to park in England’s London.” Totally facetious obviously, London England would certainly be more expensive- especially in The City, but then again, maybe not! The response from Downtown London was that one; the private owners of the lots set the rates and that two; they have mortgages to pay on their properties. Shock, bewilderment, flabbergasted, perplexed, a little confounded…we all have bills to pay, the people coming to the event have bills to pay, the people who use the lots on a regular basis have bills to pay…who doesn’t have a mortgage to pay, or bills on a daily basis? That’s an excuse to charge that much extra? I then asked this, “as per your email…all of the private owners then decided on a $25 flat fee- individually? Extended to lots 1.5km away?” I thought collusion only happened in baseball? I wondered, if all of the private lot owners were shaving one morning (face or legs, or even payroll- male, female, corporate owners…) and were struck with a great idea- $25 parking for the World’s. Each individually contacted Impark and asked that the rates go up for the week- to which Impark said, well, we had spoken to the city about not raising pricing on the lots that we don’t own and that you have mortgages on, but ok, we have to man the lots (which we do every week on game nights as it is), I am sure we can spin this in a positive light as we are such fine corporate citizens! To my question, the answer was a solitary word- “yes.” And then a follow up tweet from them, they also decided to set the night rate $10. Then the comment from DL- in the Freeps, not on Twitter, (so who knows, could have been taken out of context, I really, really hope it was taken out of context), “the people who attend this event can afford this and won’t bat an eye at $25.” Stunned. More shock and dismay. And amazement. Let’s showcase our city, but, let’s also take them for all we can while we are doing it. They’ll respect that, expect it, and come back because of that respect- tell tales worldwide of how well they were fleeced! haha. I hear the arguments- it’s a world class event, you would pay that in Toronto, it’s their right, people can afford it, supply and demand…but, we are London, not Toronto. Cost of living is higher there, the rents are higher, the gas more expensive, and I have not once had to pay $25 to go to an event anywhere in Toronto….too little time to write more about this right here, but come down and discuss it over a pint at the bar!
This is a big event. We have known for two and a half years that it was coming here. This was the event to put us on the map, to showcase our world class city. I know parking is not the be all and end of the all of people’s visits to out city, and I am sure that there will be people who in fact, won’t bat an eye at the charges, but it does reek of opportunism. I know there are a lot of people who will not be driving to the event and will not be affected by the excess charges. Our hotels are full! I am also sure though, that this is not the way to showcase the city, and I am also sure Impark does not need the PR help, that Downtown London should be leading the charge against them charging these prices, and that the city should have worked out a plan- after all, the city is not raising their rates on the municipal lots, and I have been to so many large events in other cities that use a few outlying lots and shuttle people around, that I am sure someone in the last two and a half years could have worked it out- that sounds like a whole lot that I am sure about!! This should not be a week where we all try to make our year’s rent/mortgage. Seth Godin to me is a bit of a marketing guru and he said it way better than I ever could this week (coincidentally)in a posting entitled “I’m making money, why do more?”
So what are we doing about it?! Almost forgot that part!! We are going to offer a 25% discount on food to those people who bring us their $25 Impark parking stub for the World’s. It does in fact mean that we will lose money on the food sales, but we just can’t sit aside and let it happen as it is. Margins are very tight in this industry, but you will drink too right? Crazy I know!?! But, like a pageant contestant, if we can make even just one person happy because we are doing this, then we’ll be happy! The very old joke- how do you make a million dollars in the restaurant industry? Start with two million!
Spread the word, Wednesday through Saturday, if you feel like you are getting the shaft from Impark, leave your car in that lot and walk the kilometre to The Morrissey House- we are even on the same street so you don’t need directions! Show us your $25 Impark parking stub when you order and our great staff will make sure they give you that discount. OR!!! We have a lot across the street and one directly west of us that seemingly will be unaffected by the price hike (there is also a lot of street parking within a block of our restaurant). So alternatively, park next to The MoHo, enjoy a nice lunch, head to the skating, back for a quick pint at The MO, and back for the evening program! Easy.
And…welcome to London, thank you for visiting!