PROPS & DISSES: 3.12.14

By on March 12, 2014
Alan Simpson

Alan Simpson

Web crushes big boxes too PROP

Two retail giants announced last week they would be closing stores in the face of disappointing revenue and sales projections. Both have brick-and-mortar outlets in Jackson. If they were on the list to shutter (and it’s doubtful they are) it could open the door for mom and pops, both locally and nationwide, to get back on Main Street.

The black hole called the Internet first started swallowing up local five-and-dimes and the like. Still hungry, it has now turned its sights on mega-chains like Staples and RadioShack – and that could be good news for the little guy again.

Staples announced it would be closing 225 stores by the middle of next year. That amounts to nearly 12 percent of its total North American presence. About half of Staples’ sales come from their website already. RadioShack made its play a few days earlier when reps said deep cuts were in the retailer’s future. As many as 1,100 outlets, or a fifth of its store count, were set to close after a $400 million loss was posted in 2013.

Small, independent shops can simply stay leaner than their bloated competition. Reduced overhead makes up for their lack of buying power. Online retail will continue to grow but it will have its limitations, and there will always be those purists who desire to touch and feel their products before checking out. These folks are the vinyl lovers of the marketing world.

Small towns, especially touristy ones like Jackson, should reap the benefits of chain stores feeling the crunch. The death knell that once sounded for independently-owned businesses now could be tolling for the big box. And it’s sweet music to the ears of many.

 

Gaiety: it’s a Republican thing PROP

Alan Simpson has been so off his rocker his entire political career that he makes perfect sense. Not, by the way, something you want to make a habit of if you want to enjoy a long life in Washington.

The former U.S. senator from Wyoming made a name for himself inside the Beltway by making sure everyone knew he had a Wyoming way of seeing things.

Simpson’s latest bucking of business as usual on Capitol Hill is his part in signing a letter urging a federal court to revoke the constitutional amendment banning gays from marrying in Utah – a move Simpson and other ralliers believe could help legalize same-sex marriage throughout the Western states including Wyoming.

Simpson, a lifelong member of the GOP, thinks the issue makes sense even at the party level.

“If you’re a Republican of any kind, we believe government should stay out of our lives, the right to privacy and the right to be left alone,” he told the Casper Star-Tribune. “It’s hypocrisy of the highest order.”

Simpson joined state lawmakers like Representatives Ruth Ann Petroff (Jackson) and Dan Zwonitzer (Cheyenne), along with Sen. Michael Von Flatern (Gillette), in appealing to members of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to stick to their guns after assailing Utah’s prohibition on gay marriage.

 

Fighting for the Teton $ PROP

Local legislators performed heroically in Cheyenne. Lawmakers kicked out a responsible $3.3 billion budget while attending to hundreds of new bills, and doing it all as a bicameral, citizen legislature as pure to the intent of our forefathers as can be found on the planet.

Each session and for the most part, state senators and representatives set aside party lines and ward off special interest lobbying. It’s a legislature that still functions admirably, though it’s been put to the test in recent years. They do this all on $150 a day in a dilapidated building constructed before Wyoming ever became a state.

Politicians from Jackson and Teton County are particularly up against it at the State Capitol. Sure, reps from Wyoming’s smaller towns and less-populated counties struggle to make their voice heard, but our contingent has the opposite problem: Working through the preconceived notions that we are a flush county with little connection to the rest of the state, and we can fend for ourselves.

Rep. Keith Gingery has led the way. His voice is well respected and our county attorney has brought many quality bills into law. His all-out war for landfill money is about the toughest sell going. First off, convincing the powdered wigs in Cheyenne that Teton County is hurting for anything has to be difficult. Secondly, a dump is hardly the sexiest topic.

But Gingery fought valiantly for big bucks needed to close the Horsethief Canyon landfill – a stand that may not be a done deal despite the passing of a bill last Friday that stripped Teton County of $7 million earmarked for the transfer station.

Sen. Leland Christensen has led the way for the land swap between state and federal authorities so desperately needed if tourists are to avoid seeing a Ramada Inn smack in the middle of Grand Teton National Park. Rep. Ruth Ann Petroff has been in on that interest from the beginning as well and has also championed numerous smart causes.

Here’s to you, lawmakers. Thanks for representing.


About Jake Nichols

Jake is a work in progress.

3 Comments

  1. JHNative

    March 13, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Diss on your Prop about store closings. That means bad economics for JH, less tax base, less jobs, etc. Even if mom and pops were to come in to replace, their rent would be too high for them and the prices would be way out of touch with reality, like most JH downtown businesses. This would mean continued trips to IF for regular priced items. But yay for IF!

  2. Scott

    March 14, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Amusing you cite the demise of “local” five-and-dime stores. Two points to consider. First, the two most prominent 5&10 stores were Woolworth’s and Ben Franklin — NATIONAL chains. Second, these 5&10 stores died out long BEFORE the Internet was even invented.

    In addition to their tax contributions, K-Mart, Radio Shack and Staples provide goods and services that are hard to find in Jackson. As JHNative pointed out, losing them means more trips to IF.

  3. anonyholic II

    March 15, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Jake – Did it occur to you to call Chris Knobe for what would be obviously needed clarification on the status of the local Radio Shack store? He likely would have confirmed what the sign says above the door: KNOBE’S Radio Shack. It is franchise operation not a corporate store schedules for the chopping block. The Knobe family owns the space, they buy the inventory and pay the help. Everyone knows, except for you maybe, that the Knobe family name has defined local “mom & Pop” business for nearly 30 years. Even opinion columns like P&D need to be grounded in basic reporting skills, like sourcing information.

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