Small Businesses in the Offline World

I recently wrote about online regulations and small business. Today, I have another example of small business struggling to meet its legal obligations. It is a local outdoor movie theater here is San Diego. It is called Tops Presents. With zero-gravity recliners, great movies, a good screen, excellent sound, and the warm San Diego sky above, this place is one of my favorite venues. Unfortunately after a few years of operation with no complaints, it appears there are some code issues that will require the business to spend quite a bit of money before it can reopen. From an email I received, it seems that the city is trying to find a way to let the theater re-open. I hope it works.

To be clear, I am not saying keeping public facilities up to code and regulating business is bad. If anything, I think that good regulations must be in place lest financial and other debacles continue. Nonetheless, at the smaller scale, when I see good businesses running into barriers, I have to hope the regulations achieve their goals without snuffing out business. I don’t think the theater is making that much money in the first place. It doesn’t seat that many people, and the film fees take a big bite out of the revenue. But given several good restaurants within walking distance and a nearby residential neighborhood, many people eat and drink at the local establishments before the film. That is economic stimulus. Indeed, a new pizza place is opening just down the street from Tops Presents. Pizza, beer, and then a classic film (from Casablanca to Pirates of the Caribbean)? I call that recipe for a great summer night. Now to see if we can let it continue.

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