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The Physics of a Good Store Location 72

Roland Piquepaille writes, "In 'Atomic Physics Predicts Successful Store Location,' LiveScience reports that a French physicist has applied methods used to study atomic interactions for another task: to 'help business owners find the best places to locate their stores.' Pablo Jensen has used his method for the city of Lyon and is now developing software with the local Chamber of Commerce to help future business owners. Read more for additional references and maps of the city of Lyon showing for example the best locations to open a bakery, according to atomic physics." Jensen says that more research is needed to know if this method would work in other cities.
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The Physics of a Good Store Location

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 30, 2006 @02:22PM (#16259545)
    That's two Roland junk science articles that have made Slashdot today. I guess since people have stopped clicking links for him, Roland has to up the submission rates to the editors.

    ONCE AGAIN, he is linking to the same zdnet blog that he has the last 4 times. Are you editors all dumb? Can you not figure out it's a ad-trap? I guess since we can't filter him, we have to make posts like this to bitch. Did I mention this is more junk science to ad rape us with? K...

    So yea offtopic me all you want Roland (with your many accounts here), but since (as usual) this is a submission for ad clicks, I just want to say thanks for wasting my eyeballs again. Let's hope people realize this is crap before they post and click for him. Not that his links have anything to do with real science...which makes this whole submission offtopic.
    • by FhnuZoag ( 875558 ) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @02:27PM (#16259617)
      While I can make no guesses as to the intent of the submitter, the article in question looks legit - it refers to a real future article in Physics Review E, which is a pretty well recognised peer reviewed journal dealing with Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter physics.

      See lume=74&Issue=3#MAJOR4 []
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 30, 2006 @02:36PM (#16259681)
        Indeed, and thank you for the link to real article, which was NOT linked in the summary. The above poster's issue was with the sites that WERE linked in the summary.
        • I'm pretty sure /. has an (official?) editorial policy on that kind of thing.

          I refer to the practice of linking to a blog or some other site instead of linking directly to TFA itself.

          Right? Anyone volunteer to go dig up the CmdrTaco comments from those Slashdot Navel-Gazing threads we had? I'm sure someone remembers it exactly, or has it bookmarked.
      • While I can make no guesses as to the intent of the submitter, the article in question looks legit - it refers to a real future article in Physics Review E, which is a pretty well recognised peer reviewed journal dealing with Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter physics.

        And here I'd let my subscription lapse. :-P

        In Roland's defense, I would never have heard of this, but it's cool nonetheless to hear about it. If he can find links to Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter physics, power to him. That do

    • by Eternauta3k ( 680157 ) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @03:18PM (#16260005) Homepage Journal
      Damn! The thousands of slashsdotters who will read the article and give him ad money! Oh wait...
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )
      Wouldn't a better solution be to click on his ads? If his ad clickthrough rate shoots up, he may get accused of click fraud. Click several times or run a script to do it over several days. Surely wget and a simple script set to refresh a page every minute, then get every ad on that page.
  • Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by guardiangod ( 880192 ) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @02:25PM (#16259581)
    I know people (usually the business types) who can go to an empty store location, look around for 3 minutes and tell you whether the location is good or not.

    Even on the same street, stores on one side may be "live" while stores on the other side may be "dead".
    • by Alsee ( 515537 )
      Helpfully linkified:

      I know people (usually the business types []) who can go to an empty store location, look around for 3 minutes and tell you whether the location is good or not.

    • Let's see, using atomic physics to determine the best place to open a bakery...

      Look, if it's a bakery, and makes donuts, cakes, fudge bars, (the kind with walnuts inside, and sugar on the bottom), then there is absolutely no need to use "physics" to determine where to put the store!

      Put it anywhere there is a road! Make sure the sign outside says "Bakery".
      It's going to be a huge success from the very first day!

      Don't even need to sell coffee there. Had that already. Just provide friendly staff to stuff our ba
    • All you need to make a bakery a success is have the aroma of fresh bread wafting through the neighborhood.

      If you really want to be like a bakery in France, you want to be on a side street with no good parking, have an unmarked door and perhaps no sign outside, and you want to be open only three or four hours a day. If customers can't find you, of if the bread is all sold out, that's their loss.

      But honestly, most neighborhoods in France already have at least one bakery. They're about as common as convenien
      • by mgblst ( 80109 )
        One of the reasons I love Paris, and loathe the UK and USA (ok, loathe is a bit harsh). You can't compare the quality of stuff you get in the supermarket over here, to the Baked goods from France.
        • Why are you comparing supermarket stuff from the US to specialty store stuff in France? That's like comparing Wal-Mart furniture to fine hand-crafted furniture.

          There are plenty of quality bakeries in the US. While they may not in general be as good as the ones in France, they are far superior to supermarkets.
  • Economics? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @02:34PM (#16259671) Journal
    This is the kind of thing Economists have been playing with for years.

    I can't remember who, but some guy got some press for an article he wrote discussing how a lot more progress would be made if we threw researchers from disparate fields together to work on a problem.

    By bringing their differing talents/viewpoints/knowledge to a problem, you end up with new and 'better' solutions.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah, but for some reason they keep omitting the doors to the shops because the theory says that people should be able to tunnel on through the walls.
  • tag: pigpile (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Janek Kozicki ( 722688 ) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @02:37PM (#16259701) Journal
    I saw once this tag used for this submitter. Let's use it from now on! (/me tags pigpile)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rbochan ( 827946 )
      But what good are the tags? It's not like /. allows for filtering based on tags. The /. tags just seem like useless masturbation.

    • Correct (or rather, closer to correct) pronunciation would be "peek-pie".

      And I honestly don't see what is so wrong with his articles. Sure, he adds a link to his own blog, but that's her perogative as a submitter, and often times the articles he submits are interesting, and not nearly bad science as that "Scottish Firm Developes Free Energy" was, or so many other articles (not by Roland) have been.

      Not to say he's amazing or anything, I just don't get what everyone has against him...
    • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
      Personally, I use fuckroland []. Yes, childish, but most tags seem to be.
  • feng shui at least pumps out crap that people can pretend to understand. oh, and it also tells you what colour to make the shop. as well as the layout of the shop. AND what to put right infront of the shop.
  • by boyfaceddog ( 788041 ) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @02:43PM (#16259761) Journal
    Next in the pipeline - physicists work with news editors to produce useless but well-targeted articles.
    • How about using Quantum Dynamics to determine whether or not to use lurid shades of purple for background colors on web sites?

      Come on folks. It's not like you had to pay for the paint. I haven't seen anything this bad short of MySpace...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 30, 2006 @02:45PM (#16259779)
    For Firefox users, this Greasemonkey script will hide stories submitted by Roland Piquepaille: []
  • ... help business owners find the best places to locate their stores.

    Sounds like another consultanting scheme to separate business owners from their money. I guess having a good business plan, a generous handout from the city and feng shui just doesn't cut it anymore.
  • From what I can tell the concepts utilized are related to gravity models as applied from economic/business geography (which admittedly stole the idea from physicists). Interesting none-the-less, but hardly novel at this point (see publications in geographic literature by Grant Thrall and others for more info).
  • by Bender0x7D1 ( 536254 ) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @03:17PM (#16259989)
    This is great when you create a model based on a single town/city/location and apply it to that city/town/location, but that doesn't mean it is transferable.

    For example, there are many small town or villages in wine regions in the midwest U.S. where there are multiple wineries/shops/bakeries that are right next door to each other and do quite well. According to this model, many of those bakeries should fail. In fact, it is the shops farther away from the "main street" that have the fewest customers. The same in historical/heritage communities. In the Amana Colonies in Iowa - same thing - multiple bakeries beside each other with similar merchandise but all full of customers.

    What is missing in this model is how different cultures view the shopping experience. In the U.S., we seem to prefer going to a single area and having a large number of similar shops. If we want to buy a car, we prefer to hit an area where there are numerous dealers so we can find a good deal. We would rather drive past a local bakery to hit WalMart so we can save a few dollars. Since most american families own a car, how the distance and time affect things is different than in Europe. We don't shop locally by default, which is why WalMart can kill small businesses for miles around.

    Now, I'm not saying that this model is bad, but the locality, culture an demographics needs to be taken into account, so this isn't a generic model that can be applied everywhere, but a technique that other localities can use to create their own model.

    It would also be interesting to see how large changes such as extended construction on a major road, or the construction of a new mall/housing complex/office building would affect the model.
    • by Pink Tinkletini ( 978889 ) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @03:38PM (#16260139) Homepage
      In urban planning and economics, this is called location theory []. See, for instance, "The Geography of Entrepreneurship in the New York Metropolitan Area," [] published last year in the Economic Policy Review, which describes one such model as you describe. (Warning, PDF with 3.4 MB of cool maps.)
    • I find that here on Buenos Aires too. Although not next to each other, bussinesses of the same kind tend to group on the same streets. It's kinda nice.
    • by SrLobo ( 1008087 )
      Actually, that doesn't mean that method is not transferable, it only means that the full proccess must be repeated on each city (or region) for it to make any sense. Measuring all those factors you talk about, and their effect, is exactly what the first part of this system does. Common sense may tell you that the local is in this or that ideal place, and will tell you that local will be very expensive as well. When you have to choose between two or three cheaper places, all worse than that ideal one, this m
    • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
      For example, there are many small town or villages in wine regions in the midwest U.S. where there are multiple wineries/shops/bakeries that are right next door to each other and do quite well.

      This is the usual thing in most Asian cities I've been in. A whole street of sports shoe shops, another street of wedding card printers, etc, etc. I imagine it reduces the risk of starting a new business. You're bound to get some walk in sales as basically everyone who passes by has come to the area specifically to

  • by CrazyJim1 ( 809850 ) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @03:18PM (#16260007) Journal
    We wouldn't need doors on the stores because we could just phase through the walls.
    • by Alsee ( 515537 )
      True, but the Quantum Tunneling time to enter the local coffee shop is a bit longer than my lunch hour.

  • Emergence (Score:4, Informative)

    by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <> on Saturday September 30, 2006 @03:56PM (#16260283) Homepage Journal

    There's an intriguing discussion of geographic distribution of commerce in Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software [] by Stephen Johnson.

    It's a great read, and it gave me all kinds of nonlinear insights into How The World Works that I hadn't really thought about before. It also definitely made me want to bust out Sim City again.

    • by hexi ( 716384 )
      Also on the subject of Econophysics, I strongly recommend Philip Ball's book Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads To Another. It's one of the most interesting books I read last year.
  • It seems nearly 30 years ago - in fact it *actually* 27 years ago - that my undergrad dissertation used gravity modelling to predict the impact of a new shooping centre.

    Lakshmanen-Hansen: some names to conjure with.

  • Predicting the locations of bakeries is one thing, but what about call centers, NOCs, corn fields, and cnc shops? These are all pretty disparate examples where many variables preclude their location. For example, a call center needs access to telephone exchanges and a populace to draw against employee turnover. A NOC needs to be located where there are a lot of big pipes, preferably a tall building. A corn field needs to be in a place where there is enough fertile land that will support a large crop. A cnc
    • The article makes only a few points, all of them long held as valid. Summarized very briefly, sampling is used to correct for spacial anomalies, categories are revealed with Potts algorithm, and potential is revealed with field theory. What is interesting is that the writer of the article appears unaware of the large body of previous work similar to this. Also interesting is the Slashdot obsession with quick judgement over a thorough read. It seems that both the writer and the Slashdot audience reveal o
    • A NOC needs to be located where there are a lot of big pipes, preferably a tall building.
      I usually prefer to site a NOC near a series of tubes.
  • I searched for Roland_Piquepaille on Wikipedia, and guess what - it redirected to slashdot. []

    I'm gonna go ahead and nominate that for speedy deletion, as Wikipedia says - be bold
  • This has to be a problem similar to that of deciding where in a store to put products to optimize sales, and that must be a pretty sophisticated science by now. Do you put the sesame oil next to the other oils or the asian foods? Laundry soups near the entrance or in the back? So the question becomes - is this approach to the problem better than others that are out there? Hopefully they have already tested it against other models and shown that it does well - before subjecting some unwitting small busin
  • Physicists rediscovers century-old, widely used methods of spatial statistics! We'll keep you informed about breaking news. We don't expect it to happen, but if this person were actually to open a textbook outside his field, we'll be the first to report it!
  • by jonadab ( 583620 ) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @07:54PM (#16261867) Homepage Journal
    > help business owners find the best places to locate their stores

    Um, we already know how to find the optimal location for a store. You look for where there's a McDonald's, and you locate the store right next to it. Couldn't be simpler. _How_ McD's always manages to find exactly the perfect spot, I'm not sure, but I've yet to see one suboptimally located, so plopping down next to them should be a pretty reliable way to find a really good spot.
  • "...Jensen says that more research is needed to know if this method would work in other cities [than Lyon]."
    First he needs more research to know if this method would work in Lyon.
  • Not Roland the Plogger again? He just posted a crap story yesterday. This has to stop.

  • And I thought Penn and Teller did an excellent Bullshit episode debunking Feng Shui.

    Wait, I know - maybe it works on the sub-atomic level, yeah, that's it, all kinds of non-intuitive stuff happens there...

  • Please, anyone in charge of Slashdot content, please drop this drivel from Roland Piquepaille. You are only hurting your own credibility by helping this talentless troll. His regurgitation may work for, say, the Myspace crowd, but this is slashdot and I expect more from you. I will click on ads from your sponsors that pertain to me, but I will not help an empty soul like Roland. Up your standards, or up yours. sincerely, Ruprecht Jones

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!