What Odyssey Theaters is doing in downtown Dickinson, North Dakota, is a baffling mystery to me. I have so many questions, I hardly know where to begin.
There is a shortage of parking in downtown Dickinson. The paved parking lot behind the Post Office, which is also across the street from City Hall, which is also behind the Lilly Pad Apartment building, is always full, and is greatly needed.
The only way that this area of downtown Dickinson functions, with people going to the Post Office, City Hall, Lilly Pad Apartment Building, the Eagles Lodge, the Senior Citizens Center, Bernie’s Esquire Club, and other businesses, is because of this large paved parking lot.
It was insanity, for the City of Dickinson to sell this parking lot to Odyssey Theaters to build an eight-screen movie theater complex. Where are the customers of the Post Office, City Hall, Lilly Pad Building, the Eagles Lodge, the Senior Citizens Center, Bernie’s Esquire Club, and other businesses supposed to park now? Or, where are the customers of this Odyssey Theater complex supposed to park?
This whole downtown area of Dickinson, which is a mix of businesses, apartments, and homes, already has most of the on-street parking spaces taken up, even with the existence of this large paved parking lot. Once this large paved parking lot is gone, where is everyone going to park? How could the City of Dickinson, or Odyssey Theaters envision people parking three or four blocks away, taking up the on-street parking spaces of apartment residents and home residents, and this whole thing not being a disaster for everyone, the City, Odyssey Theaters, downtown businesses, downtown residents, and customers?
Another facet of this, which is puzzling to me, besides the shortage of parking, is the character of this neighborhood not being suitable for an eight-screen movie theater complex. To begin with, this area of Dickinson is not modern, glamorous, fashionable, up-scale, metropolitan, and it has some accessibility problems.
For instance, many of the apartment buildings and homes in this neighborhood are old and not in the best condition. These apartment buildings and homes are low rent, with unkempt yards, untrimmed trees, broken sidewalks, and old beat up cars. I live in one of these downtown neighborhoods, and there is theft, vandalism, and drug activity. Why in the world, would Odyssey Theaters think that people with money would want to park their $50,000 truck, Cadillac Escalade, or Lexus in a neighborhood like this, at night, in the dark, and walk four blocks to a movie theater?
In this downtown neighborhood in Dickinson, the people within walking distance of this proposed movie theater complex, very few of them will use this movie theater complex. Most of the people in this neighborhood don’t have an interest in this sort of thing, some are elderly, some are worn out from their job, some don’t go out at night, and some don’t have the money for it.
There are some younger middle-class families with children in Dickinson that would like to go out to the movies. However, middle-class moms from better neighborhoods are not going to like having to park on the street, in the dark at night, in this old neighborhood, and walk several blocks to this movie theater complex.
Here is why movie theater complexes work well at shopping malls and shopping centers, but less well in an old downtown neighborhood:
Malls and shopping centers have very large paved parking lots which are clean, well lighted, with good visibility, where families can get everyone unloaded from the vehicle in a safe manner, and get organized. In an old downtown neighborhood with on-street parking, the lighting is not as good, you and others are not as visible, street traffic is passing directly beside you, your vehicle unloading and walk has more obstructions.
Malls and shopping centers are usually surrounded by family restaurants and fast food restaurants. In an old downtown neighborhood, there may not be any family restaurants or fast food restaurants, which is the case in this downtown location in Dickinson.
Malls and shopping centers allow patrons to get inside out of the weather, and then go do other things before or after the movie, such as try different food vendors, shop for clothes, jewelry, electronics, toys, etcetera. With a stand-alone movie theater complex in an old downtown neighborhood, there might not be any other food vendors, or retail shops open after 6:00 p.m., which is the case in this downtown location in Dickinson.
From what I have seen in Dickinson, virtually everyone over 50 years old does not like to go out at night after 6:00 p.m., for any reason whatsoever, they want to be home. They do not even go out to dinner after 6:00 p.m. The people in Dickinson between 40 to 50 years old try to make it home by 7:00 p.m.
The people in Dickinson between the ages of 30 to 40 who are married, they like to be home by 7:00 p.m., and then they are home for the night.
The single people in Dickinson under 40 years old, and the married people under 30 years old, some of them stay out late, going to bars and restaurants, or socializing. However, I think that many of these people who do go out at night in Dickinson, don’t have much interest in going to movies, they want to eat, drink alcohol, and smoke.
With cable television, satellite television, Netflix, and the internet, I don’t think that many people in Dickinson have an interest in going to a movie theater, they would rather be at home. Because of the weather in North Dakota, people living far out in rural areas, and North Dakotans liking to drink and smoke, I think that they prefer to stay home and not go to movie theaters.
There are just a few younger middle-class and lower middle-class families that would enjoy going to see movies at a movie theater in Dickinson, but with it being located in the old downtown neighborhood in Dickinson, this is not very appealing or convenient for them.
I don’t know why no one from Odyssey Theaters saw the things that I have pointed out. I am interested to see what happens. I do not think that they will have very many customers after the first few months of operation in Dickinson.