business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Good piece in the Washington Post about an initiative being considered in New Mexico by the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce.

Its name: the Happy Toilets program.

It works like this: There is a familiar sign on many retail stores that is some variation on “our restrooms are for customers only.”

But the Happy Toilets program is counterintuitive. It actually asks retailers to volunteer to put a “happy toilet” sticker on their front doors, saying that even non-customers are welcome to use their restrooms. The idea is that tourists and aging customers often are looking for a place to go to the bathroom, and this will address the lack of easily available public facilities. And the Chamber of Commerce is hoping to come up with an idea that would give volunteering retailers some sort of small stipend to cover cleaning expenses.

The Post notes that “the Happy Toilet program isn’t entirely new. More than 200 cities in Germany and Switzerland participate in a Nette Toilette (‘Nice Toilet’) program, where businesses receive between $30 to $100 monthly depending on their size.”

Some Santa Fe retailers don’t like idea; they don’t want non-customers in their stores.

But others see the value, believing that this could give them the opportunity to turn non-customers into customers.

I understand both sides. But I think the latter group understands something important about the current state of competition - that if you want people to not just shop online, to actually leave their homes and go to bricks-and-mortar retailers, it is important to provide them with certain necessities.

In this case, Happy Toilets might lead to happy customers.

It could be an Eye-Opener.
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