Closed marketâs valediction ironically explains its failure POSTED AT 11:36 AM ON NOVEMBER 12, 2010 BY ED MORRISSEY There are few things more annoying than people blaming their failures on others. There are few things more ironically humorous than watching a clueless person publicly scold people and in the process reveal his or her own ignorance. And since examples of both at the same time come along so rarely, we have to take a good look at the Boston Heraldâs report on the closing of Don Ottoâs Market, a niche food market in Bostonâs South End, where the management briefly posted a tirade against its customers for failing to buy what the owners demanded: Actually, it was more revealing than McLaughlin realizes. Perhaps she has spent too much time in Barney Frankâs district (he was a customer), but businesses donât succeed by telling customers what they should want to buy. Customers have this annoying tendency to know how they want to spend their own money, and businesses succeed by adapting to demand, not demanding that customers adapt to the ownerâs own tastes in supply. And if people wanted to âinvestâ in Don Ottoâs, they would have bought stock in it rather than food they donât want at prices that discouraged sales. In a way, though, this is an allegory of elitism in general. McLaughlin couldnât pass laws to make sure that people could only buy her $28-per-pound steak, but she certainly sounds as if she would have done so if given the opportunity. Her contempt for her customers is not dissimilar to the contempt shown by those in political office who pass laws barring restaurants from using saturated fats in their cooking, who ban Happy Meals, and who overhaul entire economic sectors because they believe people canât make their own choices. It looks as though McLaughlin at least learned that blaming customers for not surrendering to her diktats in the name of âinvestmentâ makes for bad public relations. The valediction has disappeared from the website, replaced by a simple notice that Don Ottoâs is closed. Update: It looks as though arrogance really was the business plan, and it only took six months to fail. Lee Doren sent over a Boston Globe story from May reporting on the new ownership and its goals: And customersâ shopping habits rely on how much things cost in relation to value as they perceive it, a lesson Otto learned the hard way. There is nothing wrong with trying a business model and failing; thatâs how innovation works. But itâs beyond arrogant to blame customers for not paying exorbitant amounts of money for items they didnât perceive as valuable just to support a failing business model.