New Short Shot: The Secrets of Retail District Revitalization

I’m delighted to announce that the first in a new series I am calling Short Shots is on the street and available for you!  This brief, illustrated publication(this one is about 30 pages) functions like a quick, enjoyable, easy-to-read exploration of a topic, with pages that you can easily remove and share independent from the rest of it – for example, if you need to make a quick argument to a mayor or council member about how to do something. It’s more detailed than a blog post, but a much faster read than a book.  And easy on the wallet as well!

A Short Shot is a term used in manufacturing.  When you make a bottle or other container out of plastic or something like that you typically “blow” a small amount of the molten material into a mold.  If you do it right, the materials flattens out in a thin layer against the mold, and you have a container with an air space in the middle.  Of course, if you think about that very hard you can imagine all kinds of things going wrong – material is too thick, too much of it, doesn’t spread out right, etc.  And if you’re running a machine that makes a few thousand of these an hour, you have to make sure it’s right before you push the start button.  So a short shot is basically a test mold, one that you use to quickly and inexpensively see if a new idea is going to work.

I love that image, because I think of these Short Shots as a way for you to quickly and easily explore new ideas, without having to put them on that thick”reading list” of books that you know you should read, but …  Short Shot Business District Revitalization cover

This first one is on The Secrets of Commercial District Revitalization — it explores why some of the big ticket projects we put into our downtowns and other commercial areas didn’t make the difference we hoped for, and it looks at the challenge of making these districts work better from a whole different perspective – the local business owners.  If you’re looking for new solutions to making your commercial districts work better, and if you want to help your small business people become more successful, I think you’ll find this worth the very little effort it requires.

The Secrets of Commercial District Revitalization and all the rest of the Short Shots will be available in all of the places where you get your digital Wise Fool Press publications — Amazon Kindle, Square Market and now Gumroad, which works for those of you outside of the USA who haven’t been able to use the Square Market.  If you need print versions, send me a note at and we’ll make it work.

This Short Shot and most of the upcoming ones are based on talks and trainings that I have done over the years, so if you’re looking for a presentation for an upcoming event, just let me know.

Here’s a sample inside page:

Short Shot Retail revitalization

Man, what a turnout! And a little info on Pruning Back Retail.

First, thanks again to everyone who participated in the session on sustainable economic development at the APA National Conference in New Orleans. I am still shocked so many of you were there… that early… on a Sunday… in New Orleans! If you wanted to talk about something but didn’t get a chance because you were there with 300 of your new closest friends (!), feel free to leave me a comment here. If you want to see the presentation again, you can get the slides at my LinkedIn profile ( Just go to SlideShare at the bottom of the profile page.

Second, here is a tidbit from the Wall Street Journalthat emphasizes a point that I have been making: most communities need to prune back the amount of space that they are dedicating to retail. As this article indicates, rental rates on the whole continue to decline- and we all remember from Econ 101 that if supply goes up and demand does not keep up, prices will fall. So most of us clearly don’t need more retail.

However — I am a believer that every challenge contains the seed of an opportunity — many of those low-rent retail spaces may be well suited to transition to something else. They key is to prod/enable those property owners to make transitions that add value, not just continue to patch things together and scrape along.