Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Retract That Retraction

Well, PC Club is gone after all, and for reals this time. Apparently NAOC Holdings took over just long enough to file bankruptcy itself and shut everything down. Looking through the windows, it looks like a lot of people still have their computers in there. A quarter-century ago, I lost some home electronics when the repair place went bankrupt. I think if my computer were in there (and it has been on several occasions, since we bought it there), and my wife and kids were whining at me to do something about it, I'd be compelled to conduct a midnight requisition manuever. Not that I'm advising anybody.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Know When to Say "When"

The trustee in the MILA bankruptcy in Seattle is suing Layne Sapp, the former CEO, for pulling millions out of the company while it was going down. He had a plane and a yacht and was receiving millions in dividends while he was Trying to get Deutsche Bank Securities to float a fraudulent private placement. I can't resist: What a Sapp!

I'm shocked, shocked to find that looting has been going on at these mortgage companies. The next thing they'll be telling me is that the Earth goes around the Sun, or some such.

People, if your company is in trouble, fix it. If you can't fix it, close it. Don't blame a conspiracy of little green men. And don't loot it. Creditors have a lot of ways to come back to bite you.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Heavy Flack Over Salt Lake City

A few days ago I received an announcement from a company I do business with periodically telling me in the most breathless manner possible that it had brought a new partner on board. This announcement has every marketing buzzword imaginable (Although I now note that it's missing "powerful." I guess it needs a rewrite a la Steve Goodman's addition to his "You Never Even Called Me By My Name" after David Allan Coe critiqued it.) It even calls the new guy a marketing "evangelist" (Folks, understand this: No one wants salesmen to preach at them. And if I were into evangelical religion, I'd be a bit bent out of shape that my beliefs were being cheapened like that.).

The purpose of an announcement is to let people know something. Breathless sales pitches only catch the attention of folks with perverse senses of humor, like me. They certainly won't catch the attention of any news outlet you want to pass the story along, except maybe to get pinned up on a business editor's wall as a laugh. If you want a news outlet to run your story, learn the outlet's style and match it. And give it a story, not a hyperventilated marketing presentation.

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The Long and Winding Road

I grew up on a farm and in a small town (population 250 and falling) out in the sticks. We were a long way from stores, and going to town to buy things was a cost (in both money and time) you simply factored into life.

Until this Summer there was a market up in the SunCrest development on Traverse Ridge. It was a general store type of place for the people living up there. It ran into the same problem every small town merchant has run into: not enough traffic to cover the costs. Now it's gone.

And now the folks up there are going, "Gee, I have to drive all the way to town for my brie. And gas is so expensive." I guess it's lucky for them Harmons just opened a new store at the base of the hill. I can't sympathize much. This is the sort of thinking that led them to build McMansions in a wind tunnel on a sand pile next to a fault line in the first place. But I digress.

If you're planning a business, location counts in new ways. Fuel costs will be dictating not only your expenses but your customers' behavior.

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The Cookie Crumbles

Mrs. Fields couldn't restructure its debt and is now in bankruptcy. For those of you panicking about your cookie fix, all those stores out there are franchises and shouldn't be affected. It makes me wonder, though, if they didn't have new store overhead, where did the debt come from? All those mansions they built? Keep it simple, people. Chances are you don't need a private jet and a landing strip for it in your back yard.

By the way, total bankruptcies in Utah for the first half of 2008 were up 42% over the first half of 2007. Consumer bankruptcies nationwide for the periods were up 30%.

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