I’m living in Toronto’s Parkdale neighborhood for over a year now. The neighbourhood has several personalities, but the one I am going to talk about today is the hood’s begging scene. If I imagine asking people their opinion of the number of beggars in Parkdale, I’d probably get these responses:
An Economist would say: “The number of beggars-per capita is very high.”
A Mathematician would say: “The ratio of number of people to number of beggars is very low.”
An Engineer would say: “The concentration of beggars per square meter is very high.”
A Sociologist would say: “What you are measuring is actually a sign of social degradation and deprivation – how insensitive!”
A MBA (i.e. someone like me) would say: “These people are wasting their time here.”
You heard me right, I may not know the social theories regarding the cause of begging – whatever they are, they don’t matter. But one thing is clear – Parkdale is not the place to beg. Let me explain why.
The dollar store in my neighborhood, with one of the begging spots. Image courtesy Google maps street view.
See that dollar store? A dollar store is a sign that screams two things:
#1. “We sell crappy Made-in-China goods for a dollar”
#2. “This neighborhood is full of people who will buy that crap”
The dollar store is not the only sign – there are several thrift stores, discount stores, pawn shops, junk stores, cheap restaurants etc. It’s a great place to get deals and bargains. The neighborhood is full of rental apartment buildings (perceived by certain bloggers as being owned by slumlords), large number of people living on social welfare, community centers, etc. To summarize, Parkdale is a place filled with poor people* and low income families.
This place should ideally be a nightmare for a professional beggar – right?
But for some reason, it seems that Parkdale is also the home to all beggars in Toronto. Clearly, these guys haven’t done any market research, market survey, target segmentation, and their implementation shows a complete lack of strategy.
Some picture from some forwarded email. This is no longer funny
Therefore, as an almost-MBA dude, and since I find it prudent to dispense advice even if people won’t take it, I have decided to share my insights with anyone who asks me for change the next time. The beggars in Parkdale, and there are a lot of them, must go somewhere else. Not for the sake of the residents, not for the sake of the neighborhood, but for their own good – if you wan’t to beg, atleast do it right! For starters, I propose they go to Bay street, which is just 20 minutes away in downtown Toronto (a place full of tall glass buildings, people wearing dark suits, perfume and makeup …and no beggars!)
PS: I’m sure you can tell that I hate to see able bodied men asking for money.