Is Closed a Cultural Benefit?

This weekend, I caught up with a college friend in central Wisconsin. Starbucks recently opened their first storefront in Wausau. Given Starbucks’ consistency and my lack of knowledge of other options, I suggested we meet there.

“How about something local, like Jeannie’s Cafe?”, Tom asked.

I’m always up for tasting the local flavor and we planned to meet there.

Neither of us were aware that Jeanie’s, like the majority of downtown Wausau, is closed on Sundays. This reminded me of my time in Germany. There the shops were also closed on Sundays. While I agree, closing at 6pm during the week, noon on Saturday, and all day Sunday, keeps a designated time for personal and preferably family-focused activities, it only works best when everyone plays along. And when the economy isn’t based on retail sales. Conversely, not playing along hurts everyone and can make actually getting things done a modern day, dual-income family a really hassle.

In Wausau, the ice cream shop, chocolate shop, gelato shop, and the downtown enclosed mall were all open – with a couple of patrons in each. With a handful of shops open and the majority closed, I imagine the traffic for the open shops is dramatically lower than what they see on Saturday. The open shops don’t get walk-in traffic from non-open shops.

In the end, Tom and I drove across town to Starbucks, it was packed.

To me, this felt like small-town American example of the EU’s economic issues.