The hardworking crew at HSU has published its Index , which shows a sharp drop in housing sales, down 12.4% since last month. Most indicators were down or flat although Retail held steady. Unemployment rates: National 6.3 (May figures), California 7.6, Humboldt unchanged at 7.1. Many thanks to Dr. Eschker and his researchers.
Those who waded through the saga described in my last post will recall that 1) I was advised by CCCU to close my checking account because I lost some checks 2) I opened a new account but after a month the new checks hadn’t come 3) CCCU contacted the Deluxe (check) company and was told that the checks must have been lost in the mail 4) CCCU closed THAT checking account and opened a new one for me and 5) I had to contact all 14 of the utilities, credit cards etc that I have payments deducted for to advise them that the payments would now come from a THIRD checking account.
I imagine you can guess what happened next. The day after I finished all the letters, calls and visits changing the account number for the second time (North Valley Bank insisted on an original letter) , the checks showed up for the second account, now closed. According to the package, the checks were mailed from Lancaster, CA on March 13. It took FIVE WEEKS AND ONE DAY for a small package to arrive here from Lancaster. In the meantime I had tried to research the lost-mail stats fro the USPS and found- not surprisingly- that there are no clear figures. The consensus seems to be that the loss rate is between 2% and 5% for the USPS and a QUICK survey of what’s available on the loss rate of UPS and Fed Ex seems to indicate that customer satisfaction is far higher with UPS than with Fed Ex but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. A graph published by Fed Ex gives their loss rate as .55% for what that’s worth.
I was curious to know how long it would take me to hear from CCCU since the very helpful and talented staff there are skilled at calming customers and I really wanted someone from management to give Deluxe a reality check on their delivery times. This morning a nice person named Jolene (“like the Dolly Parton song”) called and we agreed that if this NEXT order of checks doesn’t get here in two weeks, I should call her and she will call Deluxe. I’ll settle for that. I will also mention that the envelope in which Deluxe mails its checks ( with the box flattened but you’d have to be an idiot not to figure out that the “Important Documents Enclosed” are checks) in a plastic envelope that says “tamper-proof” but which can easily be cut open so should really read ‘tamper-evident”.
I hope this is the end of it.
I will add just one thing more. Of all the entities I have had to deal with during this mess, the EASIEST one was Suddenlink, the WORST one was PG&E. Happy Spring!
Dr. Eschker and his hardworking crew at HSU have added another dimension to their Humboldt Economic Index; a specific tracking of the manufacturing sector. That sector, which will likely generate the sought-after high-paying jobs so badly needed to stabilize our Humboldt economy, increased its index by over 30% in the past year. This is huge and shows a very positive development even though not associated with an increase in employment. Enjoy the Index here and many thanks to those who worked on it and the sponsors.
The apparent closure of the Loleta Bakery raises questions that a lot of us may not have thought about since we took our first business classes. Whether we were schooled at Stanford or by the SBDC, the one principle that applies to all businesses is that you need to have a successorship plan. It doesn’t have to be a long document but it should make clear what happens if one of the partners or family members becomes incapacitated or has to leave the business. It’s a standard part of any business plan. and no lender will release funds without one. One or even two illnesses shouldn’t shut down a business.
The chaos and confusion around the bakery’s closing leads me to conclude that there WAS no business plan. Since it’s impossible to get financing without a business plan I have to conclude further that the owners were wealthy enough to open the business without third-party financing, and without a plan. Now 20 people are out of work and facing an uncertain future.
Loleta is not the only town to be invaded by outlanders with more money than sense. When they start businesses that thrive, it’s called investment. When they screw up, they cause a lot of grief to a lot of people. Here’s wishing the very best for the employees and the people of Loleta .
The other local closure, Big Louie’s in Eureka, has been free of the drama seen in Loleta. Harold Lawrence has been an exemplary corporate citizen, supportive of community causes and youth sports. I wish him the best, and really hope the franchise will reopen. Meanwhile, when you open your business, think ahead to the time when you may be incapacitated or worse. Your family and your employees deserve better than to be left drifting. A lot better.
In its relentless march toward world domination, Dunkin Donuts has announced the franchises are available in Eureka, Crescent City and 40 other locales in NoCal. Follow this link for more info, and good luck!
I went into The Works yesterday to get the new Pharrell CD and to see if they could order me an old Fred Neil album that I must have lent to someone and found that they’re not taking new orders! Darren (who works with Bandon , the owner who bought the business from Larry Glass) said that business has been so bad lately that The Works is definitely in jeopardy. The move to “C” Street gave them a bigger space for performances and readings but they lost a lot of the foot traffic they had over on “F” Street.
You know the story. A dollar you spend at Target or another chain or ITunes or Amazon leaves the county; a dollar you spend in a local business is recirculated locally. Plus I don’t know another place in Eureka that will take special orders; if anything happens to The Works, where will I go when I want to replace my CD of Donald Fagan’s New York Rock and Soul Review (Mike McDonald, Phoebe Snow, Boz Scaggs etc) that is wearing out I’ve played it so much? Or some wonderful old vinyl records? Clearly this is a quality of life issue, and anyone who is familiar with (for example) Amazon and their practices knows that’s not the answer. No, the answer is to support our local businesses much as we support our local farmers. So whenever there’s a break in the rain, go down and do some shopping at The Works, 210 “C” Street in Old Town or order over their phone which is 442-8121.
I’ll see you down there. Oh, and they’ll have the Pharrell CD next week.
Our friend Doug Rose has reminded us that he is selling his pond-and-water lilies business in McKinleyville and he’s listing it at only $7K. That’s an awfully cheap price to get into a an enterprise with lots of growth potential. I’ll let Doug tell the rest of the story:
“Seasonal (March-August) pond plant business available in McKinleyville. Established 12 years with good client base and assumable land lease with room for expansion. Facilities are fully developed with 10×12′ greenhouse, automated watering system, sheltered potting area with weed cloth covering all growing areas. Inventory includes 160 mother plant varieties of hardy water lilies with complete history, growing characteristics and graphic displays for every plant. Business consists of wholesale, retail and internet. Must sell by July 4th. $7000 is walkaway price. ” His phone is (707) 839-0588, his cell is (707) 616-0111 and the website is right here. There’s also a video on You Tube
and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org. (Sorry, I’m having problems with links again but the link to the website is good.) If you haven’t met Doug, he’s an amazing person.
Good luck in your new business!
NEW FORMAT: Shorter but more frequent posts. Feedback welcome.
I didn’t attend the HCDCC meeting Wednesday night because I’m still recovering from the Cold of the Century and it’s just as well. Two members, Melinda Ciarabellini and Marion Brady , are no longer members and party discipline is the reason. The HCDCC has been flooded with new members whose identity as Democrats is shaky or at least awfully recent, but all you have to do is go down to the Election Office and sign the paper, and poof, you’re a Democrat. That’s the American Way.
As for me, I’ve been a Democrat since infancy. One of my earliest memories is of Election Night 1952 when all my teacher relatives were crying in the kitchen. I didn’t even know what “Nixon” meant, but I knew it was bad. I DID vote for a Republican once- Milton Marks in San Francisco. I was comfortable voting for him because he shared my liberal, pro-Labor philosophy. Folks like this are nowadays referred to as “Eisenhower Democrats”, if you can find one. Unfortunately, politics have become extremely polarized since the ’08 elections as I’m sure you all know.
I was a voting member of the HCDCC for 4 or 5 years. I went though the awful procedure of gathering signatures (need 20 currently registered Democrats in your supervisorial district, which is harder than it sounds). I attended many many meetings, staffed register-to-vote tables, spent lots of money (for me) on donations. But in the last year or so, I’ve lost my enthusiasm. When we had our first heated discussion about supporting non-Democrats and the punishment that would result, it was pretty clear we were talking about blatant and unmistakeable PUBLIC support. The waters became murky immediately when Marian Brady made the case that she wasn’t really supporting Joe Bananas or whatever his name was- she was WORKING for him, so that was okay. I never was clear on whether the rules applied to the non-voting members.
Fast forward to last Fall. I had resigned as a voting member because this blog takes up a lot of time, but when it was announced that we were having the Democrat of the Year Dinner at the Ingomar Club I knew I was running with the wrong crowd. I organized a counter-dinner in Fortuna for those of us who were uncomfortable with paying the Ingomar for our dinner, and it was a great evening. But it’s getting harder and harder to find common ground among the HCDCC members. Look what we’re got: HumCPR devotees, GPU devotees like me, union folks, environmentalists all in one “big tent”. It’s hard to find a common thread, except on social issues. Friendships have been strained. The HCDCC leadership is pushing to make every election a partisan election. I am not enthusiastic. Look what partisanship has done to us nationally: gridlock. I voted for John Fullerton. I’d do it again.
I’m still an associate (non-voting) member of HCDCC and I just signed up to help with their June fundraiser, but now you know where I stand when I write about business. I’m pro-environment, pro-union, AND pro-business. Tough work but someone’s got to do it.
Politics can be destructive and ugly, as was demonstrated Wednesday night. As Will Rogers used to say,
“I am a member of no organized political party. I am a Democrat.”
I thought that flu shot was supposed to save me from the shivers, shakes and runny nose that has kept me inside all week, but I guess that was a different strain. This week you’re getting some stories from near and far that Redwood Coast businesses, citizens and consumers may find of interest.
3-D PRINTING HITS REDDING: Both Shasta High School and Enterprise High School have purchased and deployed MakerBot Replicator2 machines at $2300 each and students are experimenting with them right now. We know they’re being used in biotech and and architectural design but I just saw a statement that they’re being used in the CULINARY field but it didn’t explain how. Well, you could design a heckova wedding cake with one of these things, and at $2300 they’re definitely affordable. Shasta High is using them to make team souvenirs, for starters.
TONIGHT SHOW LEAVING BURBANK: and taking 160 well-paying jobs with it. About three years ago, we were having lots of exposure on the show because apparently one of the producers fell in love with Humboldt. Remember Tom Green and the guy in Old Town swinging the firepot around? Green named Duane Flatmo the Most Interesting Person in California. I don’t think Jimmy Fallon is going to show us that kind of love. Hopefully Jimmy Kimmel can be lured up here and shown the light.
JANUARY HUMBOLDT ECONOMIC INDEX: From those wonderful people at HSU, shows the median home price creeping back up again, from last month’s $234K to $247K, and home sales the strongest since July 2005. Our county unemployment rate is currently 7.9%, California’s is 8.3% and national is down to 6.7%. Here’s the complete update and I’m going back to bed to watch Pawn Stars. Stay warm and dry. It’s apparently going to be a dreadful weekend.
HOUSING PRICES: The December Humboldt Economic Index published a couple of weeks ago showed a dip in County housing prices that would be pretty scary if it continues, but it probably won’t. Median home prices in Humboldt fell from $264K to $234K, but not to worry. Dr. Erick Eschker of the HSU Economics Department advises that the figures should be read as a four-month moving average and provided an additional graph that shows the dramatic shift since 2006 and the slow upswing we are now experiencing. The Index of Home Sales is 24.3% higher than at this time last year, which is nice.
FILM/TV INCENTIVES : The Economist (Jan 17) reports that Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles has appointed Tom Sherak, “an old industry hand” to lobby in Sacramento for the city’s interests in luring the industry back to LA. Film and TV production in California has been decimated by the grander film subsidies and incentives offered by other states. New Mexico and Louisiana have been particularly aggressive, and California was particularly late in realizing that they needed to get into the incentive game also. Mr Sherak may find this a difficult year in which to persuade the legislators of the urgency, with so many other unfunded needs. Humboldt County, by the way, is doing well, even in the rain. Cassandra Hesseltine, our Humboldt-DelNorte Film Commissioner, reports that filming locally has become a year-round activity in the last couple of years, not limited to the “good weather”. She says the right now crews are in town filming a print ad and a reality show, about which she didn’t want to say too much but it wounds like a well-known hairy creature from Willow Creek is involved. Let’s wish Mr Sherak well in his new job. Film is definitely one of our strengths.
HOMELESSNESS DOWN, NOT UP: Considering all the focus on homelessness lately, I am amazed that so little attention has been paid to Daniel Mintz’ excellent piece in the Mad River Union which gives some good solid numbers to think about (Eureka’s homeless count was 1100 in 2011, 650 now). This is a problem which will never be solved without clarity on the extent of the problem. Sadly, 37 homeless students were identified in the Northern Humboldt Area.
HUMBOLDT BAY HARBOR WORKING GROUP: Maybe it was the rain, but the Group’s meeting on Wednesday was the most downbeat I have attended. Three speakers discussed short-sea shipping and were refreshingly honest. Most of our lumber goes to LA, and we can’t even fill a barge from up here. The labor doesn’t pencil out either. The Harbor Commission study on the East-West rail initiative was definitely putting a damper on the proceedings as without East-West, or even with it, it appears that at present we just don’t have enough cargo to make it short-sea shipping worthwhile, and a Walmart center in Gerber won’t do it either. I personally feel that the old North-South rail route is a much better idea and could not only move freight but revitalize the tourist and rental car businesses, but what do I know?
Happy Lunar New Year! See you next week.