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Downtown Improvement District Not Happy with SRQ Survey

Members of the Downtown Improvement District board are requesting that SRQ Media must present a survey DID paid for to the board before SRQ's Thursday event.

Downtown Improvement District Not Happy with SRQ Survey

Update:

SRQ President Lisl Liang told Patch Friday that the Downtown Improvement District did not recall it sponsored the SRQ consumer study.

"Mark Kauffman, who posed the inquiry last week to the DID, was not on the board at the time the sponsorship was authorized," Liang wrote. "It is clear that he inaccurately thought the research work was work for hire contracted by the DID, which might have followed a different client-vendor relationship. This was not the case." 

"We thank the DID and other organizations such as the Downtown Sarasota Alliance for assisting us in implementing this endeavor to increase and improve the success of Downtown Sarasota. We had many DSA members join us for the workshop last Thursday."

Jon Moran, DID Adminstrator said sponsorship could change things, if it can be confirmed.

"Being merely a sponsor changes everything," Moran wrote to Liang in an e-mail. "Unfortunately, no board member has a recollection of the details of the discussion which occurred a long time ago.  I have asked for any record that would confirm sponsorship because that would end the difficulty this board is having, 40% of which is as new as I am."

Earlier: The group that paid for a downtown survey conducted by SRQ Media is not happy with the media group going ahead with a presentation last week.

The Downtown Improvement District has paid SRQ $6,000 for the survey, but at least one member felt that a Jan. 24 presentation to DID didn't give enough time to digest the summary and then to review the actual questionairre.

The media company's Project Create division presented findings of a seven-month study of downtown Sarasota shopping, dining and use of the Downtown Improvement District on Thursday at its South Pineapple Avenue office.

DID unanimously voted Feb. 7 to send a letter demanding SRQ to not disseminate the survey to the public without the approval of DID, but the media company forged ahead.

"We paid for the entire thing," DID member Mark Kauffman said. "This is our product. Therefore, the dissemination of it should be with our approval."

Kauffman said at first glance of the survey's questionnaire, the length to him is long and figured "it probably takes someone 20 minutes to fill out."

He also thinks that the sample size is not statistically significant to gain an accurate data pool. SRQ reprentatives at the Jan. 24 meeting defended the sample size saying anything more than 100 respondants and the demographic were relevant.

• One hundred thirty-two consumer surveys were collected online with 27 questions

• 53 retail surveys were collected in Burns Square, greater Main Street and Rosemary District areas.

"I couldn't assimilate what I was reading," Kauffan said at the Feb. 7 meeting.

Chairman Ernie Ritz said he also doesn't like that DID's name is not on the survey's questionnaire after the group paid for the survey.

SRQ Media President Lisl Liang disagrees with the DID's notion.

"No idea what you are talking about - the last scheduled presentation of SRQ before the DID was on the 24th of Jan, with a follow-up scheduled in conversation between myself and the did Chair for Feb 21[st] (or later, he said the docket was very full)," Liang wrote to Patch in an e-mail.

The Jan. 24 presentation had to be cut off because of meeting time restraints.

"At the meeting the board was enthusiastically excited to get their individually provided reports and for us to distribute the information through partnership with DSA and other organziations; the Downtown Alliance of the Chamber was also discussed.

"Finally the reports are part of the public record and as you can no doubt see they do have an entire page dedicated to promoting the partial support that the DID provided. 

"As you can imagine your question seems, to me, to be misinformed. Very odd."

Liang said businesses spent 15 to 20 minutes to fill out the survey and consumers took three to five minutes.

Kauffman said at the Jan. 24 meeting that he wanted time to understand the data.

"I would love to read this assimilate it and then you come back and explain this," he said. "This is an awful a lot to read and listen at the same time."

He couldn't believe the data on the slide about the single most common reason to vist. Sixty-two percent said dining was the single most common reason, outside of work.

"I can't believe that slide. How can you say that? For theater?" Kauffman said looking at only 4.7 percent saying theater/galleries. "With the Opera House and the [Florida] Studio Theatre it doesn't make sense to me."

Liang said the question was asked in two stages — single most reason and what types of activities do you participate in where respondants could select all that applies.

"It did not mean it was the only thing they did downtown," she said.

In that latter question, 56.9 percent said theater and galleries.  Dining was top at 91 5 percent. Dining was also the single most reason people come to Sarasota, as 62 percent of respondants gave that response.

It was the focus of SRQ's report on its own survey, too.

The magazine also reported how late holiday shoppers want stores to be open:

"Among holiday shoppers, some 60.9 percent said they would shop past 6pm if stores were open later. While 57.4 percent of consumers agreed or strongly agreed that downtown was a great shopping destination, just 36.5 percent said it was a better shopping destination than a mall." 

In a recent Patch Poll, which is unscientific, 34 percent of the 168 respondants said downtown stores should close at 9 p.m., and 91 percent gave a time after 5 p.m. That was regardless of holidays.

Here are some other findings of the SRQ survey:

• Majority of residents spent $100 to $250 a month

• Snowbirds spent $501 to $1,000 a month

• Merchants defined October through May as their busy season

The PDF summary of the survey is available with this story above.

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