What We Have to Be Grateful For on the Redwood Coast- a sampler

Counting your blessings on Thanksgiving Day, on the Redwood Coast, is an overwhelming job, which is why I am not trying to be inclusive. Here are just a few items which have come to my attention lately, for which we should give thanks.

First, we should give thanks and remembrance to the three loggers who died on the weekend of October 19-20. It doesn’t seem to me that enough attention was paid to these incidents and we can never give enough emphasis to the dangers of logging.

Let’s also, on the verge of the Christmas holiday, remember the 25 or 30 of our friends and neighbors who have lost their jobs due to the closure of Ray’s Food Place in Eureka. I never saw more than two or three customers in the place and I don’t know how they kept it  open as long as they did, but it’s gone now. If you know any of those employees, show a little more kindness than usual.

Let’s be grateful for the farsighted educators of Ferndale High School for purchasing a 3-D  printer for their engineering class. The friendly staff has advised that Mr. Michael Baggot, 786-5900, can be contacted for a possible appointment to observe the machine. ‘Way to go, Ferndale!

Let’s also be grateful for community groups like the Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers (HASA) who devote many hours to the welfare of our precious Bay. Here is a link to their newsletter, which is a great one. It will take a minute or two to load, but is worth the wait. What a pleasure to see our friends Ben Doane and Pat Higgins and thanks to Casey Allen for keeping me on the mailing list.

Not local but still neat: did you know that there is a movement afoot to install chargers for electric and hybrid vehicles all along Route 66? There’s a festival coming up in Kingman, AZ to commemorate the Mother Road going green.

We can be grateful that despite what seems like an all-out effort by Amtrak to stifle our passenger trains, the Surfliner and the San Joaquin have more riders than ever.  

And finally, not local but I bet he’d love the Redwood Coast, movie star Kirk Douglas, who has survived blacklisting, bad movie roles, strokes and God knows what else, has just published his TENTH novel at the age of 94. Long may he wave, and I hope I have his ambition at his age. Have a great holiday and don’t forget to count your blessings. 

 

 

“Catfish” Lessons for Redwood Coast Business, Port of Oakland big plans and HumBay Tourism Center

CATFISH-If any of you have not seen “Catfish”, either the movie or the TV series which just finished its second season on MTV, you’re missing out on a phenomenon.  I waste more time than I care to admit watching junk TV (“Pawn Stars”, anyone?) but “Catfish” is in a class by itself. The whole franchise got started when Nev Shulman, a young, good-looking and seemingly intelligent New Yorker formed an online friendship via Facebook with a young girl in the Midwest who appeared to be a phenomenal graphic artist. (I don’t usually use the word “intelligent” and “Facebook” together, but bear with me here.)  Certain things didn’t add up, so he decided to investigate the situation with the help of his filmmaker brothers and discovered that the girl’s mother had done the artwork and that he had been “catfished”, a term which has entered the language now and which normally refers to a person who has been taken in by someone who hides his/her true identity on Facebook. The motive could be money, spite, whatever but Shulman got so many emails after the film “Catfish” started being shown that it became clear there was ample material for the series, which is heading into its third season.

     It would be easy to dismiss the various victims as just plain stupid, and some of them are. However, some are quite sophisticated and wary of situations that seem too good to be true. There are infinite variations on the plot (using a model’s photo in lieu of your own, creating a fantasy identity etc) but after you watch long enough , some eternal verities emerge, some of which Redwood Coast Businesspeople should keep in mind in your marketing campaigns. Take these to the bank:

1.  People believe what they want to believe.  You know that old gag, “Who ya gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?” Most people are totally capable of ignoring reality when convenient.

2. Hope invariably trumps common sense. You didn’t show up for our long-postponed meeting because at the last minute you were carjacked? That one was actually used in one episode.

3. Nobody likes to be lied to. When the truth finally sinks in,  when the gorgeous girl is finally revealed to be a hundred pounds heavier that her photo, or a different sex than what was advertised, the reactions are always the same.  ANGER! Some of the couples work it through but the vast majority, when they finally figure it out, are disgusted with themselves AND the perp and terminate all contact immediately. They’re ashamed, embarrassed etc.

     What are the implications for sales and marketing? Simply put, a little light-hearted kidding (like the Joe Isuzu campaign) can be great, but making indefensible statements or claims will always come back to haunt you. Come to think of it,  this applies to politics too.

PORT OF OAKLAND TO EXPAND- along with the Panama Canal. In this account, from the Capital Weekly, Greg Lucas does an excellent job of laying out complexities facing the eleven California harbors, including our own.  Food for thought for our local rail supporters.

HUMBOLDT BAY TOURISM CENTER- Has been open since May down at 2nd and G in Eureka and I have referred at least 18 people there just to look at the beautiful job they’ve done with the building. If it were a bar, it would be one of our most elegant. The space is in zones for taste, planning activities etc. and I’ll let their own website tell the story. It’s a beautiful facility, staffed by pleasant people, but what I had hoped for was to be able to give an account of the impact it had over the past season. It turns out that’s impossible. According to the management there they have NO DATA on how many visitors they’ve had, how many tours or activities have been booked through, how many lodging bookings- nothing. They are just now- at the nadir of the tourist season- starting to keep some records which they will certainly need when their two-year contract with the HCCVB is reviewed or renewed.

Anyway, check them out for a relaxing break from hectic Holiday shopping. They don’t have any parking, which is a hassle,  but I’ve always been able to find something within a couple of blocks. We’ll revisit them here next summer when they have a whole year under their belts. And wish them well. We need all the help we can get.

Broadway gains a bistro; more busses

A new bistro: There’s another empty storefront in Henderson Center now that the Stuft Potato has moved to the old Babetta’s site on Broadway. The old venue, in the Steve’s Coney Island next to Norman’s dry cleaners, could charitably have been described as “cozy” but it was definitely too crowded for a business lunch or anything else you didn’t want to include the whole world in on. The new place is spacious and downright elegant and advertises itself as a European Bistro. The menu has been expanded to include vegetarian options such as strudel and continues to offer sandwiches, the “stuft” potatoes with a myriad of toppings including meatloaf, and dinner selections including schnitzels, rouladen and goulash. I’ve always liked their food but the experience should be a lot more pleasant now and I would recommend checking them out. No word on what is happening to the old place.  

(We apparently have a problem with the link to their site. Try going direct to “stuftpotato.com ” till we get it fixed. Sorry!) 

By the way, can anyone remember the location of the ORIGINAL Steve’s? I can. Let’s hear from you!

More busses! In transportation-starved Humboldt County any news is good news. On Hallowe’en, Bolt Bus , a subsidiary of Greyhound, will start thrice-daily service between the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Oddly, they won’t serve San Francisco directly but will be doing curbside pickups at the Diridon Station, 75 Cahill Street in San Jose and at the West Oakland Bart station on Seventh Street, with the LA hub at Union Station. Fares are still being evaluated according to demand; check their website. Like other “premium discount” services, they will feature wi-fi, power outlets, greater legroom, and online ticket purchase although walkup tickets can be purchased depending on availability.All tickets are nonrefundable.  I notice they are also serving Eugene, a handy connection to Amtrak, but of course by way of LA.  Someday, will we at least have an express bus to SF? Anything would help.  

Next week: lessons from “Catfish” for Redwood Coast Business. 

 

 

What Eureka Needs- an Early Christmas List for Entrepreneurs

     Since it seems that every day I go past another shuttered business, we obviously have retail and office space to spare. Why not seize the situation as an opportunity to fill those spaces with businesses we actually NEED in town and to encourage entrepreneurs to meet those needs? Okay, here’s my  list.

A GOOD KOSHER DELI  Those healthy delis at Co-Op and ENF don’t count. Not enough cholesterol. A warm, juicy, greasy pastrami san with a latke or two can rejuvenate your soul for a week.  The pastrami Reuben at Hole-in-the- Wall is close, but where’s the chicken liver? The  matzoh ball soup? We await our deliverance.

MORE PARKING  IN HENDERSON CENTER  The situation is just on the edge of being too crowded and if the Henderson Center Market Place or anything else ever comes to roost in the old Robert’s space or along Henderson Street, the tipping point will have been reached. The demise of the Go Go Bistro, a nice little lunch spot with an unusual  menu,is truly sad, and I wouldn’t  be surprised if parking was one of the contributing factors. By the way,  it was reported in the media that Esmeralda’s restaurant on Grotto was the target of an arson attack. If so, the firebugs must have had pretty poor aim.  The morning after, Esmeralda’s was open for lunch with nary a scratch but the building NEXT to it, further  toward “G” was boarded up and as of today was sporting a “For Sale” sign. Parking’s pretty good on that block, by the way.

A RELIABLE SHUTTLE BETWEEN EUREKA AND REDDING enabling travelers to bypass our ill-located and unreliable airport. The first person to do this legally will make some money.  There are already wildcat outfits going after this market. Check Craig’s List. And how about a shuttle to Eugene? You can pick up the AMTRAK there.

HUMBOLDT-MADE YOGURT from local cows. Not that frozen stuff, real yogurt. 

TAKEOUT CHICKEN With the departure of KFC (the closest now is in Fortuna) and the fact that its sort-of replacement, Church’s, is execrable, we are left with Winco which is meh and COSTCO which is a whole different thing, being rotisserie vs. fried. When you go for takeout chicken you don’t want healthy, although El Pollo Loco is delicious and I’d be a regular if someone opened one here. Anyone? I’d be a regular at Chic-Fil-A too if they ever made it up here, even with their weird management and policies (closed on Sundays.)

GYROS  Having to drive to Valley West to the Kebab Cafe is just wrong. At one time  Simon was talking about opening in Eureka.  Hurry, Simon! and finally

KOREAN FOOD  Since that place near the Arcata Safeway closed, there is nothing. How can we have an Ethiopean restaurant in Eureka but no Korean?  Bad show.

     So come on, entrepreneurs, here are your pockets of opportunity.  I imagine you folks can think of some more felt needs around town. Let’s hear from you!