Archive for the ‘Bidness’ Category

A workin’ man can’t get nowhere today

September 6, 2021

Luck of the draw.

Happy Labor Day, comrades.

I’m barely a worker these days; my paying chores have dwindled to one “Shop Talk” cartoon per month for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Of course, now that BRAIN is a part of the Greater Outside Globe-Spanning Vertically Integrated Paywalled Conglomerate, I find myself negotiating a contract to keep my faded Levi’s up and buckled while I continue to do what I’ve been doing for nigh on to 30 years. So it goes.

Thus, in solidarity with all y’all still on The Man’s clock, here a few random tales culled from our workaday world:

• Hotel workers serve as an unsung pit crew for the firefighters battling the Caldor blaze.

• Job openings outnumber the unemployed. But a gulf between the jobs available and what workers want has led to a “Great Reassessment.”

• Speaking of assessments, are the bots trying to upend the MeatWorld JobMart or are we just stumbling around in the dark as per usual? Kevin Drum has some brief thoughts on the topic.

• Is the boss watching, even when you’re working from home? Maybe. Say hello to “tattleware.”

• Can a workin’ man get somewhere today? He surely couldn’t back in 1978, according to Merle Haggard.

Trail tales

July 20, 2021

A 2019 shot of the Paseo del Bosque trail.

A hop, skip, and a jump from the moneyed boutique community of Aspen, an abandoned coal mine with a grim history, an environmental disaster one expert called “the worst coal mine site I’ve seen in the West,” has become “a mountain biking park for the masses,” thanks to the grandsons of Walmart founder Sam Walton.

Writes Jason Blevins in The Colorado Sun:

The word “model” comes up in almost all discussions of Coal Basin, used by the landowners, trail designers, mountain bikers, land managers and locals alike. The single track trails are a model for restoring environmental danger zones. A model for Forest Service managers seeking partnerships with private entities to help build and maintain trails. A model for open space protectors offering landowners a way to marry recreational access with an easement that prevents any other type of development.

Down here in Duke City, meanwhile, just six full-time and seasonal workers strive to maintain about 160 miles of trail, including the fabled Paseo del Bosque, known to many of us here around the old burrito cart.

According to park-and-rec PR person Jessica Campbell, via D’Val Westphal at the Albuquerque Journal, our limited trail money “must also accommodate public demand for new trail segments” in addition to maintaining what we already have.

I guess the Waltons can’t be everywhere, though of course they are, especially when it comes to selling you something. Maybe we Burqueños need a new model.

If you build it, they will come, as folks are fond of saying. But don’t neglect the upkeep of your particular field of dreams.

Fuelishness

June 19, 2021

Keep on (not) truckin’. Photo courtesy Groendyke Transport

Here’s a fun story. My man Hal was homeward bound after a track meet in Lakewood and lo and behold, there was no gasoline to be found in either Florence or Weirdcliffe.

There’s no shortage of gasoline. But there is a shortage of tank-truck drivers, thanks in part to The Bug® and decisions made around same. And we two old newspapermen, to our everlasting shame, had to get the deets from (choke) the TV stations’ websites.

KRDO had the best piece, quoting spokespeople from AAA, the National Tank Truck Carriers, and Groendyke Transport.

Something like a quarter of tank trucks were parked in April due to a lack of qualified drivers, sez the NTTC. Older drivers decided to retire, sez Groendyke. And driver schools shut down, which kept new drivers from getting certified.

And if Circle K can’t fill its tanks, well … neither can you, Skeezix.

AAA Colorado is urging motorists not to panic-buy gasoline the way they did toilet paper. Yeah, good luck with that. They’ll be panic-buying both because right now they’re out of gas and shitting themselves.

Demonic

March 29, 2021

The Mud Stud will have to settle for getting sick air on his own bike.

As plague restrictions loosen their grip in some jurisdictions, some of us may be eagerly anticipating the rubbing of elbows with kindred spirits at bike festivals.

But if any of these Gatherings of the Tribes actually occur, they’re liable to be strictly BYOB (Bring Your Own Bike). Because there aren’t any demo models to be had.

As Niner Bikes’ Zach Vestal told Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, demos are designed to drive consumer demand, which is already off the charts. Why hang a giant pair of carbon-fiber tits on a bull market?

“It hasn’t made any sense for us to maintain a fleet of bikes for people to ride when people are buying bikes at a pace we’ve never seen before,” Vestal said.

Added Yeti’s Kyle Rajaniemi: “We’re really focused on making sure our dealers can maintain their sales momentum and deliver bikes to customers.”

The good news is, with the Ever Clear finally pried free of its impromptu anchorage, container ships won’t have to sail round the Horn to your friendly neighborhood IBD.

Pocket change

February 22, 2021

Pocket should’ve changed its name to Sherwin-Williams,
because they pretty much cover the Earth.

Another day, another acquisition. Pocket Outdoor Media has snatched up Outside, Peloton, and athleteReg, and will be rebranding itself as Outside.

Here’s the story from Axios. Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, a POM product, has its own story here.

Robin Thurston, chairman of the new Outside, is said to dream of building “the Amazon Prime of the active lifestyle: a connected, holistic ecosystem of resources — including content, experiences, utilities, community, commerce, education, and services — that can be customized for each active lifestyle enthusiast.”

He’s certainly proven himself capable of financing his vision. Is bigger better? Is there strength in numbers? Depends on who’s crunching them, I guess.

Mall rats

December 19, 2020

The Citadel’s logo. Herself worked there during our first tour of duty in Bibleburg, at the Eagle’s Nest.

Remember shopping malls?

They were becoming a Thing about the same time that I was. Bibleburg being behind the curve on pretty much everything (“a cemetery with lights,” as one newspaper colleague would come to call it), my town didn’t get a proper enclosed mall until 1972, when I had relocated to Alamosa to lower academic standards at Adams State College.

In the late Sixties our “mall” out east of Constitution and Academy was the Rustic Hills Shopping Center, which had a small enclosed area with a typical strip mall attached on the west side, with a liquor store, a pinball arcade, Tandy’s, 7-Eleven, and like that there. Major tenants were (I think) a Gibson’s on the eastern corner and a Safeway on the western end. In between was … well, not much that I can recall. I got there by bike, via a dirt path paralleling a drainage ditch.

There was a Duckwall’s. A Roffler’s Sculpture-Kut shop where a Mexican barber told me he could cut my hair in such a way that my parents, teachers, and swim coach would never know I was turning into a faux hippie unless they took a whiff of my personal fragrance (Eau de Ditch Weed). A western-wear shop where I acquired through dubious means a black, flat-crown Resistol a la Lee “Liberty Valance” Marvin that, with the addition of a band of silver conchos, went nicely with the rest of my Woodstock-wannabe garb. No, don’t ask; just thank Cthulhu that no photographs survive.

Until 1972, when the Citadel Mall sprang to hideous life, with its acres and acres of parking that in the first heavy rain flooded residential basements for miles around, anyone wanting to experience an actual enclosed mall had to motor up to Denver, where Cinderella City was the Big Kahuna. Not just a whim, a destination, particularly around Christmastime.

The Citadel and the Chapel Hills Mall, which opened a decade later, arguably helped croak what little downtown Bibleburg had. Now, neither is exactly crushing it, the pack rats are stripping malls’ carcasses nationwide, and “everybody knows” that you can’t have a vibrant modern city without a thriving downtown. So it goes.

All boomed out

December 18, 2020

After a long and oddly fruitful year, some bike-shop owners are deciding it’s time to step away from the table while they’re still winners, according to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

My man Steve Frothingham reports that the year was both good and bad for a lot of businesspeople. Good, in that they moved a ton of product, made a bunch of money, and dug out from under a mountain of debt; bad, in that it left them fried, dyed and whipped to the side.

“We’ve done well, I don’t want to mislead anybody,” said one retailer. “It just did start to feel like we were in the store-running business instead of the bicycle business. I realize that the store-running business is where the industry is going, but maybe our talents are better used elsewhere.

“And I have to say, we’re just exhausted.”

Some are changing their business models. Others are selling outright, in some cases to Trek. That’s the route Hill Abell and Laura Agnew took with Bicycle Sport Shop in Austin, Texas.

The two announced the sale yesterday, then spoke with Ken Herman at the Austin American-Statesman.

Bicycle Sport Shop had been suffering a downturn until The Bug® turned bicycles into a must-have item.

As a consequence, 2020 has been “absolutely phenomenal, which allowed us to pay down all of our debt and to actually pay our people more,” Abell said. “So it’s been a really good year for the biking industry if you’re a decent operator.”

Despite the banner year, Abell and Agnew were still looking for a way out, and found it in Trek. The four Bicycle Sport Shop locations will close Jan. 17 and reopen a few days later as Trek stores. The store-running business, as the fella says. So it goes.

Anybody else seeing their favorite local shop go corporate … or just go?

TGI(B)F?

November 27, 2020

If the image appears a tad blurry it’s because pretty much everything out there is in vigorous motion.

Well, it’s not what I would call black, but then neither is it exactly a bright, bright, sunshiny Friday out there.

We are presently enjoying a thundering east wind that is extreme even by New Mexican standards, and as a consequence the options for working off yesterday’s holiday feast seem limited.

What a fine day for huddling indoors and bargain-hunting at a Bug®-safe distance! Coincidentally, my in-box runneth over with various pitches, entreaties, and pleas. A cantankerous senior citizen on a fixed income is a target demographic? Who knew?

B&H Photo & Video, for starters. They were first to pound on my digital door, at 4:18 a.m. The early bird catches the worm, don’t you know. They were followed in quick succession by Guitar Center, Brydge, Rudy Project, Brazos Walking Sticks, GoPro, Gore Wear, and Outdoor Research, all before 8 a.m.

And this is just the lot that made it past my extensive network of junk filters, mind you.

They sense my frailty. Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute some marketing poge gets a click-through from his email blast, he gets stronger. Each time I look around the walls move in a little tighter. …

Unplugged

November 22, 2020

Rockin’ out with the Art & Lutherie Roadhouse,
bought from Guitar Center Albuquerque.

Though guitar sales are rocking out, Guitar Center is not.

The nation’s largest retailer of musical instruments has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to The New York Times.

It’s a sad tune. Bain Capital got its Mitthooks into the company back in 2007, and surprise surprise! The company wound up larded with debt. Throw in a late entry into e-commerce, some tough online competition, and a bout of The Bug®, and what you wind up with is “The Last Waltz” scored for private equity and hedge fund.

My Seagull Entourage Mini Jumbo, bought used from Guitar Center Albuquerque.

The company hopes to emerge from bankruptcy by year’s end, according to The Times. But for anyone who has enjoyed working there, or shopping there, a press release contains a caveat:

While Guitar Center is pleased with its overall store footprint, the Company has engaged A&G Realty Partners to explore opportunities to optimize its real estate portfolio and other agreements to focus on investments that best position the Company to return to its growth trajectory prior to COVID-19.

Speaking of caveats, the lyrics to “Forward Looking Statements,” one of the press release’s greatest hits, will sound familiar to any lawyers in the audience:

This press release includes “forward looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Forward looking statements express our current expectations, opinion, belief or forecasts of future events and performance. A statement identified by the use of forward-looking words including “may,” “expects,” “projects,” “anticipates,” “plans,” “believes,” “estimate,” “will,” “should,” and certain of the other foregoing statements may be deemed forward-looking statements. Although the Company believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, these statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause actual future activities and results to be materially different from those suggested or described in this press release. By issuing forward looking statements based on current expectations, opinions, views or beliefs, the Company has no obligation and, except as required by law, is not undertaking any obligation, to update or revise these statements or provide any other information relating to such statements.

Wall Street should give that an 85. It’s got a good beat, and a Suit can dance to it.

The Clampdown, v2.1

November 19, 2020

The gub’nah had to both tighten and clarify The Clampdown 2.0 just days after it debuted because (a) people are stupid, and (2) see (a).

This is going to be one of our biggest problems as we endure Bug Breath, In The Year of the Plague: Democracy and dummies don’t mix.

Lord, am I ever glad I managed to surf the free-range-rumormongery wave smack dab onto Social Security Beach. People just don’t read anymore, probably because too many of them can’t, and thus my services are mostly no longer required.

If the educational system and the Fourth Estate were spared the machinations of the political-industrial complex, we might not be where we are at the moment, which is crouched in the valley under our tiny parasols, awaiting the shit monsoon, while our betters in the mountaintop trophy homes trade us like junk bonds.

Still, you don’t need to be a pro copy jock to take a casual glance at the gub’nah’s public health order and see that, hmm, yes, you can still buy a jug of Skeeter’s Sidewalk Softener in person from The Beernut’s Booze ’n’ Bullets Boutique, but no, sorry, you’re gonna have to depend upon the Christian charity of the Internets and the Brown Truck Dude to acquire that plastic Jeebus for your dashboard.

Now, I know, retail represents a big chunk of the economy, both in terms of GDP and total employment. And it’s nice to get out of the house for an hour, wander the aisles of FreeDumb Hardware & Nail Salon, touching this and that with an ooh and an ahh, maybe buy a Chinese belt sander to tackle those irksome calluses on our tootsies.

But for the sake of public health, maybe it’s time we started thinking about what we want versus what we need.

Do we need a Starbucks, a Mickey D’s, a Shell station, and a Walgreens holding down every corner of every intersection? I don’t see that one in the Constitution. I checked. Because I can read.