Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Pinch Penny Pub

Drove by Pinch Penny Pub this evening and the parking lot was pretty full. Guess a lot of locals are stopping by one more time before the place shutters tomorrow night. By my count, that leaves fourbars in downtown Carbondale, four if you count Tres Hombres:  Cellar, PK's, Hangar 9 and Trax.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Southern Opinion Page

Noticed that the Southern has removed or discontinued its opinion page for the past couple of weeks. Do not not remember seeing any notice from the paper as to why they had dropped it or when/if it would. I rather miss the letters to the editor as some of the screeds published from various letter writers were, unintentionally I am sure, quite humorous.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Downtown Transmodal Center

got to thinking about the planned transmodal center for downtown, given that the plans involve demolishing the building that houses Carbondale Cycle and Family Hair Center. Both businesses have occupied their locations for at least 15 years. Given how difficulty it is to attract business to downtown, I certainly hope the city has plans to help the two businesses relocate to desirable locations.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Pinch Penny Pub

Just a reminder that this is the last weekend EVER to visit Pinch Penny Pub. The 40+ year old bar shutters its doors at the end of the month. There does not appear any New Year's Eve event scheduled at the bar to say "Farewell" though.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Christmas Tree Recycling

If you want to recycle your Christmas tree, the city will accept them from Jan 2 through Jan 31. Strip all of the Christmas decor from them and leave them out on your normal refuse and recycling day. Note that this applies to your live tree only. The only way to recycle artificial trees is to take them one of the thrift shops in town or put them in your trash.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Town Square Lights

Really would like to see the city do something with lighting the town square. The new lamps along Illinois avenue brighten up the streetscape nicely but the square is still very dark. Not inviting at all. The Christmas lights do improve its appearance but they will probably vanish after the first of the year, leaving the square bleak and dark after nightfall again.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Hwy 127

Now if they want to do some work on 127, I would really like to see them add another lane to where 127 and Old Hwy 13 intersect. Lines early in the morning and late afternoon can back up a  quarter mile with people trying to get onto Hwy 13.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Christmas Downtown Parking

Rather sad to see, as I was driving through downtown this afternoon, plenty of parking available on the Town square, while parking was extremely hard to find at Wal-mart and the Highway 13 side of the mall. Of course, the problem with downtown businesses during this season is that most of them around the square are restaurants, which do not see a particular boost in people shopping there for gift purchases.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Hwy 127 Fix

IDOT is working on the lighting situation at the collapsed section of the Hwy 127 just south of Alto Pass. Apparently the lights have a problem changing at a frequency that keeps traffic moving smoothly.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Hwy 127 4 Lane

We will proabably never see a 4 lane Highway 127 connecting Murphysboro to the Interstate or the St. Louis metro region, simply because of the layout of IDOT districts. Although both are part of Region 5, any 4 lane upgrade would have to go through both district 8 and district 9, the border of which crosses through Pickneyville. While District 9, which contains Carbondale, Marion and Murphysboro is comparatively quiet and not needing much roadwork, district 8 covers the bludgeoning Illinois-St. Louis Metro region, which continually needs money directed toward it for new roads. As long as that is the situation, and it is for the foreseeable future, we will not see any money freed up to direct towards a 4 lane expansion of 127 north of Pickneyville.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Let It Glow Winners

The city announced the winners of its Let It Glow lighting contest today. Sadly, no downtown locations won, nor did the tree on West Main. From the press release, The winners are:

The City received 11 entries. All submissions were judged on creativity, use of lights and originality. The contest was open to businesses and residences in city limits.
Residential Winner: Marcia Moore, 1018 South Glenview Drive
Business Winner: Century Assisted Living, 701 South Lewis Lane
Honorable Mentions: Darren Ackerman, 804 W Cherry Street
                                  Garret Cummings, 501 Deer Lake Drive West

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Sales Light

Have talked with a few retailers this holiday season and all of the ones along the Hwy 13 corridor I spoke with say that sales are noticeably softer than they were at this time last December. We have started seeing a pick up in sales in the downtown area but it is running about 4 days later than 2018.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Five Reasons to Shop Local

That is a question brick and mortar stores have to face every year and none more so than during the holidays. Granted, the overwhelming number of purchases are still made in brick and mortar stores  (roughly 90% of retail sales are still made in brick and mortar stores, though this number is projected to increase by 14% by 2021). Given that many customers are motivated by price and stuff really is cheaper generally online and, unfortunately, most of our customers are not autistic enough to willingly spend more at their Friendly Local Game Store, just to keep us in business. We need to give them reasons to spend money at the brick and mortar store, rather than online. So here are 5 good reasons to shop locally:

1. Immediacy—when the customer buys a product at a brick and mortar store, they get to use it immediately. When the exception of digital media and PDFs, everything else purchased online takes time to reach them, anywhere from a day to a month or better.  I was just checking out a Kickstarter produced by a local publisher and backers will not receive the game until next March. Even modeling miniatures with a 3D printer takes several hours to complete

2. Finding New Stuff—Despite the vast amount of products available for sale online, in general customers don’t find new product online. They are 3 times more likely to find a new product that delights them in a physical store than in an online one (and don’t worry a lot about showrooming. According to Harris,  70% of customers webroom while only 45% of them showroom).

3. Reinvestment —More of their money stays in the local community when a customer shops at a local store. If a customer spends $100 at a local store, 68% stays in the local community  while if they shop at a chain store, only 45% stays in the community to generate jobs and, of course, if they buy online, none stays in the local community . In addition,  there is a multiplier effect when that money is spent in the community, meaning that money circulates to other business such as office supply stores, janitorial services etc. . In a smaller community like here in Carbondale or London Kentucky, the multiplier effect is only around 1 or 2 times before the money leaves the community but in a more metropolitan area such as Seattle, St. Louis or Chicago, you are looking at a multiplier of 7 to 10 times. And, of course, the sales taxes go back into such things as sidewalks, police, fire safety, sewers ect.

4.  Stronger Communities—Research shows that the more local businesses a community has, residents have stronger civic ties and are more likely to participate in civic affairs. Economic concentration among businesses leads to a monolithic   local power structure and civic apathy. A larger number of locally owned  businesses is positively correlated with participation in local elections and civic activism, helping to counter the decline in civic engagement in the US over the past several decades.

5. More Jobs—Local businesses create more jobs for local people. Maybe it indicates inefficiency, but local retailers create twice as many jobs as Amazon does for the same amount of revenue. Spending money at the FLGS helps maintain jobs, both there and in the large community.
You and I and every other game (and comic) shop owner know this. The trick is 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

State of the City Address

Missed the state of the city address this year. From the sound bites I have caught, the primary focus was on the growth of the city, which spent $16 million on downtown streetscaping and developing as well as landing a grant for the long planned multi-modal transport center, to go in where the Amtrak station currently sits. Mayor Henry hopes to put a day care center in there as well. Other highlights:  6 new restaurants and 2 new health facilities, as well as a solar array installed on city buildings that will cut the city's energy costs by $1.5 million over the life of the project.

Monday, December 16, 2019

250,000 Fewer

No, not students at SIUC but that is the number of fewer students starting college this year, compared to last year. According to a story I caught on NPR and WSIU this morning, this is a trend that has continued since 2008:  fewer students enrolling in college nationwide for over a decade. 2 major reasons for the trend:

1. ever increasing price of college
2. continually shrinking unemployment rate. As the unemployment rate drops, typically more high school graduates enter the labor marker or an apprenticeship program in order to start earning rather than attending college, thus putting off earning wages for 4 to 6 years.

Bike Path

Given all the time and money put into constructing a bike path running from the town square to SIUC, it might be a good idea to put up a sign letting cyclists know it is there. I still regularly see bicyclists riding north and south on the sidewalks through downtown. The bike path is certainly a lot safer and faster than dodging traffic in the street or pedestrians on the sidewalk.

Given that the city sought input on wayfinding (putting up directional signs) in the community, it seems putting up a sign directing people to the path makes sense.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Help Wanted

Looks like there are plenty of places looking for help. Thai Taste is still looking for help as is Qin Guan. Burger King and Kroger are interviewing as well. I saw half a dozen help wanted signs around town today. Probably not great jobs but, given the difficulty of staffing today, I imagine they pay more than minimum wage. 

Friday, December 13, 2019

Jason Tanner

Jason Tanner or just "Tanner" has been a Carbondale fixture for well over 20 years. He has been diagnosed with throat cancer and, after a stay at a hospital in St. Louis, is now at a facility in Benton. Extremely ill but able to receive visitors.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Free Parking Rescinded

At Tuesday's city council meeting, the city decided to put an end to its experiment with making parking in downtown free. According to its report, parking usage stayed roughly the same while there was no increase in sales tax collection to offset the costs of maintaining the parking lots. Wish the city would have run the experiment for a full year rather than just 6 months. Also would be nice to know if parking is still free in the elevated parking facility by Memorial Hospital. If so, that would offer an option for employees of downtown businesses to use. Yes, it is not as convenient as getting to park next door to your place of employment but would still allow employees at downtown businesses to park free.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

See Click Fix

If you don't have this app downloaded to your phone and are concerned about city infrastructure, it is a pretty handy app to have. You photograph a problem like a pot hole or light that is out, upload it to the app and send it to the city. I did this with three pot holes last Thursday and by Wednesday afternoon, the city had patched all of them. Great job.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

City council Meeting tonight

On the agenda
Ending the trial of downtown free parking after the first of the year
Presentation on Recreational marijuana establishment in Carbondale
Presentation of survey on sustainability in Carbondale
Presentation on automated refuse collection
Changing the name of the Street Bar to Buckner Brew Works and Whiskey
Approving the transfer of Chili's liquor license

Monday, December 9, 2019

Pag's Not For Sale

Was at Pagliai's Pizza over the weekend and learned that the pizzeria is not for sale. Apparently the owners had put on the market several rental properties they also own and Pag's mistakenly got listed along with them, which is why it got pulled down from online listings so quickly. As far as I know, Hangar 9 and PK's are still up for sale.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Arnold's Closing

Been reading articles and people's posts bemoaning the announced closing of Arnold's Market. It is not as if it was a surprise. Like the Bookworm, the business has been on the market bur the better part of a year. In both cases the owners wanted to retire or move onto something else. They wanted to see the business continue but no one was interested enough to step up and take it on. I happened to catch a piece in today's Southern about a Farm Fresh store that a customer had enough interest in to purchase and work to keep running. The owner of Arnold's has the right to shutter it if they want. If someone else wants to keep it open, they have about another week or so to do so.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Lights Fantastic Parade

Carbondale Police will start blocking off downtown streets for the Lights Fantastic parade at 5 p.m. and will reopen them when the parade ends, typically around 8 p.m. There is a downtown cookie walk from 4 to 6 before the parade

Friday, December 6, 2019

SIUC Recruiting UP

Applications to SIUC are up just over 25% and admitted freshmen for this fall are up just over 20%. Market research told the university it needed to reach out more to high school guidance counselors and it has done so. I remember talking with parents in southern Illinois some years ago who said that the file for SIUC in the guidance counselor's office in southern Illinois high schools consisted of one sheet of paper and that the university made little effort to recruit graduating seniors from the region. The assumption at the university was "these students have lived in the region all of their lives so must be aware of SIUC and our time is better spent recruiting students from elsewhere."

Thursday, December 5, 2019

New Businesses

While it is disheartening that Arnold's Market is closing, we have had a number of new businesses open in downtown Carbondale in the past few months. The strip of 3 retail storefronts on West Walnut behind Phoenix Cycle is fully rented for the first time in several year's as is the group of retail shops in the elevated strip behind what is now Traxx. By my count, that is seven new small businesses that have opened in the past year.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

New SIU President

The SIU BOT will vote to confirm Daniel Mahony as the next President of the university, likely tomorrow. Prior to this he served as president at South Carolina's Winthrop University from 2015 until stepping down to take the SIU position. From his Linked In profile:

Dr. Daniel F. Mahony became Winthrop University's 11th president on July 1, 2015. In his first year Dr. Mahony called fo a campus-wide effort to develop a strategy that would build on Winthrop’s past successes, including its strong reputation, focus on students, and its willingness to adapt to the changing realities of public higher education.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Arnold's Market Closing

According to this post on Facebook, southside staple Arnold's Market will shutter its doors on Dec. 18th. The grocery has been up for sale for a few years now with no takers, much like Bookworm, so the owner decided to close up and retire. Spin off business Arnie's Sandwiches is under new ownership but will have to find a new supply source.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Hidden Gem

College Gazette ranks SIUC as one of the top ten "Hidden Gem" universities in the country based on the quantity of research, progressive attitude toward students and strength in technology and agricultural science programs 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Solar Project

The city awarded a contract to install solar panels on the roofs of the civic center, waste treatment center and the public safety center (police station). Expected savings to the city are projected at $1.5 million over 25 year. Solar installer Straight Up Solar out of Bloomington IL got the contract for the development of the project