In what could be seen as a chicken and egg situation, a good part of growth and development projects arise to meet the needs of the community.
We have seen that proof in the recent proliferation of personal storage businesses, car washes and one-stop mega gas stations such as Wawa and RaceTrac. Another business model getting more and more specialized and competitive deals with pampering pets. You canâ€™t throw a stick without hitting someone here who pampers a pet.
We reported this week that PetPeople, a pet supplies store chain based near Columbus, Ohio, is expanding into Florida with its first five stores in Collier and Lee counties. Stores will open soon in Naples, North Naples, Bonita Springs, south Fort Myers and Cape Coral.
Rather than being a large Pet Supermarket, PetPeople is more of a boutique store averaging about 4,000 square feet that focuses on natural dog and cat foods. Its (bow) wow factor is its Paws dog wash, where pet owners pay a fee for the water, shampoo and towels to wash their pet in the store, avoiding the laundry, logistical issues and messes to clean up at home.
Of course, PetPeople is coming on the heels of other pet supply chains jumping for the attention of pet owners. Pet Supplies Plus recently launched stores here, and PetSmart, Petco and Pet Supermarket all opened additional stores. Itâ€™s definitely a dog-eat-dog world out there.
Speaking of competition, restaurants here have been competing for appetites for decades. In the end, the market decides what makes it.
When Tim Aten reported in his annual Halftime Report on local restaurants last week that we were experiencing an â€śAsian invasion,â€ť he didnâ€™t know that Charlie Chiangâ€™s closed the day the story was filed.
The brother-in-law of founders Charlie and Christiana Chiang cited the changing landscape of Asian restaurants, particularly the competitiveness of Naples restaurants, as one of the reasons for Chiangâ€™s closing.
â€śAt the end of the day, there was a lot more competition, so many restaurants in Naples fighting for the same share of stomach,â€ť Rock Fu said.
Ironically, Charlie Chiangâ€™s opened in North Naples in December 2005 because its founders witnessed the success of chain P.F. Changâ€™s which had just opened a location in early 2002 less than a mile south on U.S. 41. The Chiangs wanted a share of the customers who flocked toÂ Chinese fine dining in what otherwise was a sea of Chinese takeout.
The new location of P.F. Changâ€™s attracted more customers than it could seat on any given night during theÂ season, resulting in long wait-times for tables. The Chiangs wanted a seat at that table and succeeded in nabbing a piece of that action by putting their own upscale spin on it.
In a 2009 interview with the Naples Daily News, Christiana Chiang shared her thoughts after she and her family had opened two dozen restaurants.
â€śMy philosophy about the restaurant business is, first, no matter what, you need to have a different idea. … You need to know what’s in the market right now,â€ť she said.
Of course, this thought helps explain today why Charlie Chiangâ€™s left the market last week. Many other upscale eateries for Asian cuisine have opened nearby in North Naples. In addition to Maguro Sushi & Steak House, Araya Sushi Asian Grill, AZN Azian Cuizine and Zen Asian BBQ, many others such as Namba Ramen & Sushi and Mojo Thai & Sushi just opened this year.
So, following the nearby former China Pavilion and BeiJing Chinese restaurants that came and went before it, time marches on for Charlie Chiangâ€™s. Tastes change over time and sometimes there are simply more options on the menu.
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