Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The New Challenge at Reaching Out

Last week we arrived at Reaching Out to see this road construction underway. Apparently the merchants had been warned a few days earlier via a message shouted through a loud hailer from the back of a motor bike.  This is Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, one of the main thoroughfares in historic Old Town, Hoi An. The children who live with their parents in quarters over their stores are ecstatic. In the evenings, after the heavy equipment is shut down, they scamper over the rutted sand and dig and build, but the tourists are not as inclined to be charmed by the muck and unsure footing. As Reaching Out and all of the businesses, restaurants and shops along the road rely on foot traffic for their revenues, this is a real set back.

We had an emergency meeting to come up with a plan to minimize our losses during the project. Fortunately, the shop also has an entrance on the river side, where tourists like to stroll. There are restrictions for all heritage buildings when it comes to signage, so we had to be creative. Within a day, Quyen had a flag made in the shop with the new logo and tag line "gifts that give twice" painted on both sides. This now hangs over the back door. Our unique bamboo bicycle rests beside the wheelchair ramp ( where Elaine broke her arm two years ago) and a temporary sign hangs on the wall. More customers are using the entrance than before and walking through the workshop to get to the sales floor. This is a good thing as they are seeing the producers creating the goods.

We wish we could report that we have maintained our daily revenues, but we are having to settle for a dip of about 40-50%. Quyen and I are very proud of how the sales staff are using their skills to maximze every opportunty. We are faring better than our neighbours!

The promise is that the road will be completed for Tet Holiday, February14th, when thousands of tourists and locals come to Old Town for all the festivities, fireworks and music. Sure hope so!!!

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