Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Retail Replacement

I attended the Cambridge Economic Development Board informational meeting held at the Cambridge Community Building about a replacement store for the Duckwall's that is closing. (BTW - Duckwall's/ALCO, go pound sand!) ED put on an interesting meeting letting folks know what they are doing to try and get a replacement variety store to replace Duckwall's, and to be sure, this seems like a huge undertaking for the ED board.

I've been critical of ED on this blog in the past, but this time, I'm on ED's side. The board has attempted to contact several "chain" type variety stores, but only Dollar General responded, and their response was related to the crowd as "maybe, but don't hold your breath".

ED wants to fast track this project for several reasons. There are 5 people about to lose their jobs, and the city is about to lose $26,000 a year in sales tax revenue. Not only that, but ED feels that it will adversely effect other downtown business as well.

It looks like ED is locked into the old Duckwall's location, and has gone so far as spend money on the store shelves and fixtures. We were informed that the city has charged Duckwall's around $1100 per month rent.

To me though, the meeting asked many more questions than were answered. First up, I think ED is putting the cart ahead of the horse on this. While it would be desirable to open a new store ASAP, there is no real business plan that I can tell other than a business "model" from the town of Clark, South Dakota.

There is no lawyer involved with the plan so far... how can you ask for investment if you don't have some kind of plan other than... "we want to keep the management and employees the same as is now". The problem with that is that the current management has limited control over the local Duckwall's, especially when it comes to investor relations.

The town wants investors... Get a management team to be responsible or everything ED does about investing and setting up the business could be not what the new management would want or can even use legally.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Some Fun For A Change

I got to looking at the old blogs I've written here at the Clarion, and I decided I needed to change. How about some fun today?

I love poking around the Internet and find some rather comical things now and then. Today I offer a real life Roadrunner "cartoon" based on the old Coyote/Roadrunner cartoons. Even the ACME company gets involved!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Just Another Business Decision

The front page news about Duckwall-ALCO Stores, Inc. closing their Duckwall's stores is a fine example of a corporation trying to do what they do best... make money.

I have no idea how much sales tax is generated by Duckwall's in Cambridge, but I'd guess it is a substantial amount. Oh well, Duckwall's has no reason to care about the town of Cambridge... after all, "Customers of a number of the Duckwall stores will find broad line ALCO stores located within driving distance." Well now, I bet that is comforting for the 5 folks that will soon be unemployed at our towns Duckwalls. My mother, who doesn't drive and has no car has walked to Duckwall's. Now for her, "driving distance" is as close as the moon.

Well, I suppose that is the American way anymore. According to the Clarion news article, the ALCO CEO stated "These stores account for only 3.9% of sales and little or no profit.". That statement alone to me says ALCO doesn't care at all about anything but money. The fact that only 3.9% of sales was generated, the sales did not mean a loss to the bottom line based on the CEO's own statement.

OK, so it costs more to operate these small variety stores in the more remote locations and I appreciate that, especially with our nationwide down economy. The fact that the town supported Duckwall's though and kept 5 people working, generating state and federal income tax funding, sales tax revenue for the town, and it didn't cost the company anything should be the emphasis for ALCO.

Instead, ALCO chooses to leave many small towns with a big retail sales hole, unemployed folks, reduced tax revenues, and they expect us to be happy that there is an ALCO store within driving distance???

GO POUND SAND ALCO as far as I'm concerned. Other than visiting the Duckwall's in Cambridge until it is closed, I will never set foot in any ALCO store!!! I will spread as much ill-will about your company as good-will you pulled from our town with your business decision that profit is more important than people and communities.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Backup Plan

You may have noticed that the Clarion web site has experienced some down time lately. Well, it seems that the web site is back up with a new design and some new pages to go along with it.

There is an "Archives" page, but it isn't populated yet. I'd like to know what you think should be included in an archives page. My first thought is that the whole paper become available after 60 days for example. Lets hear your ideas!

The web site is considering adding some automated general interest content not available in the published newspaper.

Help us serve you. Give us your ideas that will make us better! Don't be afraid to post your comment and speak your mind!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Changes Wanted?

I couldn't help but notice the front page of the Clarion yesterday with two big stories... 1. The economic development director being terminated, and b... the Senior Center needs more people to stay in business.

I want to take a moment and address both these stories today as I think they could be related. The Cambridge Economic Development board terminated the ED director. Now the ED director was just in the news in the McCook Gazette about a personal grant received to develop a new Eco-Retreat. Now I don't know much about the former ED director and her personal plans, but if they in fact made a difference to the termination of her, I think it was wrong based on the newspaper article. The Clarion story made it sound like there was more to the ED's termination than "job performance" since the board declined comment about the relevence of the Gazette story.

I read the story in the Gazette, and to me, it smacked of a vendetta by somebody. There has been absolutely nothing done wrong as near as I can tell from the newspaper account, but the way it was written makes it sound like somebody should be in jail already. One item mentioned and I know personally to be true, getting construction folks in a timely manner is very difficult in this area in my opinion. I'm waiting months for a steel building myself.

Now if the Gazette article was not a factor in the ED director termination, I will be happy to back off on my above comments. No matter what the Gazette article implied, the facts according to the same article in the Gazette are that the former ED director still has time to complete the project before problems start to arise for them. In my opinion, a sensational story out of nothing so far. It may indeed come to pass, but it just as easy may not.

Now... on to the Senior Center.

I'm not a Senior Center customer. If you know me, you know that eating is difficult, and trying to talk and eat is messy at best and impossible at worst. Still, I'm probably one of the few people in town with that excuse so what's yours for not getting into downtown now and then? Margie gets into the Senior Center on occasion, and she told me yesterday that the Senior Center has a new huge flat screen TV that nobody watches {??}

Why not try renaming the Senior Center to the Cambridge Recreation Center. Open it up for kids and adults to watch and play. Get a pool table maybe unless folks around here have the same feelings the Iowans did in "The Music Man". Sell soft drinks, popcorn, show football on the weekends or perhaps a movie night or nights. Sponsor dances? Host demonstrations? Come on you town folks, think outside the box.

The reason I put these two stories together is they both point to some problems experienced by a town that wants to do something, but seems unable to find it's way when it comes to changes. As I've mentioned on this blog before, perhaps the way the town is now, you don't want it to change, and I can respect that, but when you fire someone for "performance issues" but can't get the curbs on main street fixed, it makes me wonder what direction the town really wants to go and what development is really wanted around here. If the town can't even keep a small enterprise like the quite popular Senior Center open, how do you expect to attract other business and jobs?

Monday, July 12, 2010

New Clairion Web Site

Wow! I like the new design of the Clairions web page! Rugged Peak Design has done a nice job of making the site much more visually appealing in my opinion.

It's been a busy summer around our place the last couple months. The amber waves of grain have been disappearing as fast as the combines can go, and I've been busy working on my own web site.

Most of you don't know that Margie and are building what is becoming a popular RV camping web site. We've been at it for 7 years now, and what started out as a pretty simple hobby is now starting to look like it's almost time to turn it into a real business. got its start when Margie and I were living full time in our RV, and we wanted a way to group information about finding camping locations in one place. We started with paper folders, and quickly realized that the amount of information we were collecting would be much better stored electronically. That soon turned into a basic web site that morphed into the mini monster I seem to be constructing today.

I've made arrangements with Cambridge and Brush Colorado to provide official RV camping information for the towns. You can see the Cambrige web page here ---> Cambridge Medicine Creek Campground.

Take a look and let me know what you think would improve the page. Additionally, if you have ideas to improve the whole web site, I'd be happy to hear them. I started out with absolutely no knowledge of how to build a web site, and I think I've got a pretty good grasp moving forward, but it's people that use the Internet that have the best opinion.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Thanks Tri Valley!

Last night Tri Valley Health, as part of national hospital week, provided popcorn, pop, and the movie "Up" at Heritage Plaza. Over 35 folks showed up for a good time and the free show. Those of you that missed it, too bad for you! The movie was a hoot as far as we were concerned, and there was plenty of laughter going on around us so I'm pretty sure most that went enjoyed the performance.

So today I just want to say "thanks!" to Tri Valley.