May 14, 2009

Would You Night Owls Pay a Premium for 24-Hour Commerce?

If you have a 9-5 job, and any responsibilities at home, be they family, digital, or anything else, you might find the world closed down around you by the time you're ready to go out. In most cities, practically the only things open past 9 or 10 are gas stations, 7-Eleven and possibly a grocery store. Want to pick up something from the electronics store, some new power tools, or even a new pair of slacks? You'll have to wait until tomorrow, but yes, the same hours apply, which means you're pretty much screwed until the weekend, unless you can sneak out on your lunch hour or roll into work late.

I've been a night owl since high school, at least - including a 1:30 to 9:30 a.m. graveyard shift during the summers, and working on the school paper in college starting at midnight. Even now, after putting the twins to bed after a full day, and catching up on all online activity, it's a rare night that we shut down before one - hours after the surrounding city has called it quits.

While I have moved as much of my commerce online as possible, there always remains the elusive item that would be much easier to get in the real world. What would be great is if there were something open for those of us who actually function very well between ten at night and eight the following morning. Whether there is one mega-complex open overnight that hits all the basics - from clothes to food to electronics and house supplies, or a mall in each metro area that does the same, I believe there would be a subset of the population that would flock to it - one that wouldn't mind paying a little bit more for the convenience.

I wouldn't even mind if the store charged one price at 7 p.m. and 20 percent more at 11, so long as they were open when I went. But I hate feeling like a prisoner to somebody else's schedule.