Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Marlin, Jim and Steve

As a child my religion was Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom on Sunday evenings.Wild Kingdom Clip The show consisted of Marlin Perkins narrating what his trusty sidekick Jim would do next. Marlin reminded me of a skinny Colonel Sanders without the goatee, and I often wondered if they were twins. I imagined Marlin being the good twin who rescued and nursed sick animals back to health. And the Colonel being the evil twin, who fried then served them up in a tasty concoction of eleven herbs and spices. I lay mesmerized in front of our color television and watched as Jim would wrestle huge jungle snakes, tranquilize water buffalos, and run from snapping alligators. My young mind would wonder off into some steamy jungle, as Jim and I tracked down an elusive five legged snake or dive off the coast of Bimini looking for the cow who thinks she's a dolphin. I would snap back to reality only when my mother would yell, “You are too close to the television, slide back!” To this day I cannot see an ad for Mutual of Omaha and not think of the courageous Jim Fowler and the scardy cat Marlin Perkins.
Recently Steve Irwin was killed while swimming with a stingray. Doing what he loved to do. And I couldn’t help but feel a personal loss. Steve Irwin and Jim Fowler shared almost the same sense of curiosity and danger. Honestly however, I think Steve was braver (Sorry Jim). I would watch Steve tempt a twelve foot crocodile with a raw chicken and when the croc jumped towards the bait I would flinch. (How’s that for a big bad Paramedic Man) Often thinking he is going to lose his entire arm one day. Occasionally my youngest daughter and I would sit and watch Animal Planet,The Crochunter
where Steve would jump, swim and run (in the same khaki shorts and shirt mind you) chasing whatever animal he wanted to show the camera. My daughter would hide her face behind a pillow if she thought he was going to be bitten. I would laugh and tell her when it was all over. “Dad,” she would say breathlessly, “he’s crazy!” like she had been running along side him the entire time.
Then she would look at me and ask, “Would you do that?” and without hesitation, and with vibrant enthusiasm I would answer, “Why yes of course!” The cynical twist of her mouth said it all. She knew better. She knew her daddy would be mangled by the 15 foot crocodile in the first 2 minutes of the show. Or be drowned, and then swallowed by the 39 foot python. Her 10 year old mind knew Steve was fast and slender, and her daddy was built like a tasty biscuit---with feet. But alas, in my mind I could really do it. Just give me that Wild Kingdom music and I would make Steve proud. Crikey! We are all going to miss you Steve.


Saturday, September 02, 2006

The City of Eastchase, Montgomery Mall and a Whole Bunch of Zombies

Driving down the Southern boulevard I can’t help but notice how traffic ebbs and flows like a motorized ocean. Shortly before 7:00am the boulevard is as empty as a scene from your favorite Post-Apocalyptic movie. However at 7:01am and 22 seconds a traffic nightmare erupts from thin air. The hustle and bustle is obscene with each car rushing to their destination of choice. But the kicker is each one of those vehicles represents a potential customer for the giant empty mall they pass. So the question is: How do you get just 1-2 percent of those potential customers to stop at the Montgomery Mall? And secondly how do you get just 25 percent of that 1-2 percent to purchase something when they get there? I am sure these questions are being asked daily by the marketing staff of Gilmcher Realty Trust. Gilmcher Realty Trust Site After all they own the mall.

As a business owner and having 15 years of management experience I am sure of one thing. It won’t be long before those glass doors shut for good. I don’t mean to be the harbinger of doom. But when you lose a majority of your profitable tenants to the City of EastchaseTheir Website, you either have to reinvent yourself or sell your property at a tremendous loss. Personally, I don’t patronize the mall. Solely because it reminds me of the scene in Dawn of the Dead where the stores are closed and the zombies run free. But I digress. Actually there is nothing, and I do mean absolutely nothing in that mall that I couldn’t get from Walmart. And that’s the problem. The mall is supposed to be a specialty-spend-your-money kind of place. Somehow it has lost its ambiance, right along with its anchor tenants.

With the loss of anchor tenants comes the loss of another customer base, namely those who shop around the mall at the strip malls. If you happen to live in Montgomery, Alabama you can see this for yourself. Since a retail exodus is killing the mall I think that escaping stores should be given tax breaks and utility subsidies, a commercial bribe of sorts, to stay. Of course, this is easier said than done. Currently there is a small carnival posted outside the malls walls, and it honestly looks pitiful, real pitiful. If Gilmcher Realty does not do something to reignite an interest in its property, the wonder that used to be the Montgomery Mall will close its doors…for good. And we all know what that means. Crime will sky rocket, because economic decline and crime are intrinsically meshed together and eventually it will become too dangerous to even stop for IHOP or even the traffic lights. Let alone live in that area.