Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Undercover Astronomer Scoping Out New Locations

Last week I had some free time I thought it would be a good to investigate by stealth some new settings for my outreach efforts. I really like my Marina outpost but for sometime I have been wanting to move my program around. The Sparks Marina Park is right on the a joining mall and future casino complex called "Legends". The mall itself is a outlet style and is only a few short minutes drive from my home. It is nicely done with fountains, fireplaces, gardens, bronze statues, and sculptures depicting the history and nature of the Silver State. I am not a mall person but I do like it here and there is lots of traffic on the weekends! I surveyed the sky here the other night and was surprised as to what I could see. Here are some pics of the mall and I found some good set up areas where the "Big Four" meet.

  • Traffic flow - gotta have people to inspire!
  • Visibility - they gotta see you out there!
  • Access - gotta be able to get in and out with your stuff so they can pass by and see you!
  • Sky To See - the first three mean nothing if there are obstructions to viewing the sky! No not prime observing real estate but you have to be able to show them something or your gonna look silly to most folks. Well you will look silly to some by just being there!

Here's the main court yard with its cozy surroundings. It will be easy to do Lunar and Solar programs from here! People traffic moves in from all directions. Believe it or not the sky at night is not washed out badly for the mall lighting is shielded! There are lots of places for folks to sit and mingle here and it is nice in the winter months with the gas fires going.

Stairway to second level eateries with a awesome sky exposure reaching from the North to the N.W with only the South blocked out. There is a elevator so I could move my stuff to the platform easily. I am imagining my little station up here showing off the sky and bantering away with my visitors! Here is the N.W view from the second floor patio over looking the Marina Park. Programs of all sorts could be done here including brighter deep sky objects. I am jazzed about the potential of this place for outreach from various spots within the complex. I am feeling very inspired about doing 2-3 programs a month out here.

I hope the mall management is open to the Sidewalk Universe Guy!

Several days later and I meet with the mall management with my presentation in hand. The response kind of threw me for a bit with the short of it is that they do not want their visitors distracted from shopping. I have entered a different universe here. I totally understand that this place is open for the purpose of making money but.....I am speechless to say the least and a bit embarrassed and I leave feeling really stupid. I have read stories of other astro groups doing programs at malls without any trouble and what is up with this? I do not know how to reply to this statement. There must be a place for the SUG to go but where?


Johany said...

Hey SUG,

I can't believe the reaction they gave you! They don't want their visitors distracted from shopping? Are you kidding me???

This just comes to show how clueless some people are about astronomy. Don't they know that people like to flock where something they don't experience everyday is happening? Not only will they stop to take a peek through your scope BUT they will also go inside to shop and then come out for another peek.

Curiosity about stargazing + mall= Happy people browsing and shopping.

You should give them that formula equation.

SUG, don't give up. Keep trying. These personnel at the mall have NO clue what outreach astronomy is about. Give these ignorant people reasons why astronomy will be good for "their business" at the mall." I think they feel threatened that you're going to make people not go shopping there or something. It's not like you're selling Dobsonians or telescopes. You're doing outreach, for goodness sake!!!

Keep trying SUG. It's really a good spot!

Paulie said...

Johany is right. I would try again (but maybe with a representative higher up the chain of command), and definitely include the phrase "unique shopping experience" or some other equivalent. Maybe intimate (lie if you have to) that you are trying to negotiate with another (rival) retailer about doing astronomy outreach. That may change their tone and attitude. I ahve tried to stay away from direct storefronts and shopping centers, but I had success at the one store I've been to by selling it to the manager as a "unique shopping experience". You should also point out your blog, and that you are a sought after personality. If they would promote your presence beforehand, they could draw potential shoppers, and the creative shopkeepers will come up with a marketing tie-in. This is also a selling point for you. If you can try to sell a particular shop with a particular promotional tie-in (a candy store might give a discount on Milky Way candy bars to your visitors, for example), then you might have the clout to get mall management on board. Keep trying, SUG. If all else fails, tell them your cousin Paulie will come out to play hardball with them, and I'm a free swinger with my bat (okay, maybe don't threaten violence). :P

Keep at it though. Making money is their weakness. Exploit that weekness, find a way to bring them potential revenue, and you will be setting up there as often as you like.

Johany said...

That Milky Way candy bar is a really good idea! Also, the mall also have their own "department store" telescopes that between us are a piece of S### BUT you can use that angle to tell them that by you doing some outreaching they will have potential customers scoping out their department store scopes. Which means possible money to them. (Hopefully they'll come and talk to you about scope advice first but the mall managers don't need to know that!)

But like Paulie said, if you have to twist the truth a little bit by all means do it! And if they're giving you a hard time, Paulie, Hillary and I will all come with our baseball bats and play as Paulie put it "hardball!" Don't give up!

Paulie said...

Oh, I can play the bad guy when I need to. :D

Sidewalk Universe said...

Thanks for the encouragement guys. I like the "exploit their weakness which is making $".

I thought maybe they would give me a trial run or two but no deal. I do somewhat understand their reluctance but......

I am not sure if I could pursue this site anymore as the door seems pretty closed. I will admit that I tend to give up easy but I do not want to beg, or hem and huh over it. There are other places I just have to find them.

Part of the issue here is that someone else started doing sidewalk stuff at the Marina. I do not know who it is but the security folks told me they heard about me and my efforts down there. Not sure if I could work or connect with this person. As told from the security folks they are not looking to link up with me at the Marina. So....

I certainly do not own the place or have exclusive rights but I have been working it for sometime and developing my own history and reputation.

Paulie said...

Hmmm... We all know the marina is your spot. If you run into this other character, tell him you haven't been to the marina in awhile because you found a better location... at the mall!!! Once he goes and sets up there, and promptly winds up in jail for trespassing, he'll get the hint that SUG is not to be messed with, and you will have the marina again.

Paulie said...

Do not let the folks seeking you out at the marina settle for an imitation!

Johany said...

I REALLY like Paulie's idea!!! You should tell this other guy about the mall and how awesome it is for a site!!! You should so do it SUG!!! Nobody messes with the SUG!

Sidewalk Universe said...

Thanks guys for your support and ideas! I hope I do run into him - one never knows maybe we could team up.

BUT even if that does not happen I going to continue on as I offer a unique time for folks with views and learning opportunities. Just today I received a new kit from NASA and and great item called the 2 inch universe - more on this later!

SO the SUG is armed with charm and activities that make him the street guy of choice!!!!!!