Archive for the ‘Bidness’ Category

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.

Apple of my ay yi yi

October 19, 2020

Old Sparky is back on the job.

Rarely do the multinational corporations come in for praise here at Ye Olde Chuckle Hut.

They routinely claim to stand behind what they sell, but often can be found standing directly behind the customer, wearing a predatory expression and not much else. Just who exactly is the “end user” here?

That being said, here’s a tip of the Mad Dog sombrero to the support folks at Apple. They got right on the twitchy 2014 MacBook Pro I sent them, found a fault in addition to the one that I had diagnosed, repaired both, and shipped the sucker back with alacrity. Saturday delivery, before noon. Booyah, etc.

There was one small hitch in the gitalong, and in the end (har de har har) it proved to be no hitch at all.

When support notified me via text of the second fault and asked permission to fix it (for an additional three hundy and change) I was unable to approve the additional work online, either via Mac OS or iOS. Couldn’t get an active link on the “Git ’er done” page. God damn it all anyway, etc.

So I rang ’em up. Mind you, this was on Tuesday last, when the product barkers were pitching the brand-new iPhone 12 to the rubes. Hur-ry, hur-ry, hur-ry! I was expecting a long wait and a short reply that proposed my going and doing something to myself of which I would not approve.

Nope. My call was answered promptly, the support person kicked me to his supervisor, and she sez to me she sez, “Lemme handle that for you.” Including covering the additional cost.

Frankly, I was dumbfounded. The tab was not unreasonable, a whole lot less than buying a new MacBook Pro, and I was prepared to pay it. But all I had to spend beyond the initial repair estimate was a simple thank-you for the generosity.

“Yeah, you gotta lotta Apple product, been with us a long time,” she replied cheerily. Right on both counts, with everything from iPods to iPhones to iPads, MacBooks to Minis, PowerBooks to PowerMacs, going all the way back to 1990 and that first Mac SE.

Frankly, the only way the experience could’ve been improved is if they’d given me a loaner to drive while my MacBook was in the shop.

“Here, take the keys to this 16-inch 2.3GHz 8-core MacBook Pro with the 16GB of memory and the 1TB SSD, take ’er for a little spin while we work on the auld fella here.”

I guess they figured I didn’t need the bait. I’ve been on the hook for 30 years.

Brother, can you spare a dime*?

October 15, 2020

“Can ye spare some cutter me brother?”

In comments Shawn wonders whether we accept donations here at Ye Olde Chuckle Hut.

The short answer is “No.”

I’ve thought on it for the better part of quite some time, because everyone likes to get paid for work, especially if they are me. And a blog, even a dime-store model like this one, is work.

Also, there are expenses. They’re not massive, but still, yeah, money goes out. None comes in.

Nevertheless, I’ve resisted setting up a subscription model, or a tip jar, for a variety of reasons.

First and foremost: The blog and its various side projects constitute a hobby, not a job. I’ve had jobs, and frankly I can’t recommend them. They suck all the joy out of work. And for what? A little bit of money.

Since 1991, when I left the newspaper game and opened my own little free-range rumormongery, I have cashed checks more or less regularly and outlived a number of publications that wrote them. 

Over the years editors and publishers occasionally proved irksome, as they will, because they are running what they believe to be businesses, not open-mic’ nights in some dank basement.

Thus the blog, which commenced sometime in the Nineties, I guess, possibly at AOL. A window to shout out of. “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

At the blog I got to be not just a cartoonist, writer, or editor, but all of these things, plus photographer, videographer, podcaster, and publisher. The last four involved something of a learning curve (and still do), and a student really shouldn’t expect to get paid.

As The Patrón told Doc with a shrug in “Sweet Thursday,” “You have to pay to learn things.”

But not here. If you learn anything here, which seems highly unlikely, take it with my compliments (and a grain of salt).  The bike magazines, God love ’em — the ones that survive, anyway — haven’t caught on yet; they’re still paying me. And so is Uncle Sammy, until he gets the camps built. Direct your extra pennies to some worthy cause.

* The sharp-eyed may notice that the coin changing hands above is a quarter, not a dime. That’s inflation for you.

Reality show

September 28, 2020

No wonder this hand is empty. I pay my fucking taxes.

Raise your hand if you paid more than $750 in taxes in 2016 and 2017.

The whole hand, please. Not just the one finger.

Get OUT!

August 4, 2020

Getting away from it all in 2010, when the Adventure Cycling Association’s Southern Arizona Road Adventure spent a day in Bisbee.

It’s not just bikes that are as rare as hen’s teeth, rocking-horse shit, and integrity in the nation’s capital.

Now it’s everything outdoorsy, from camping equipment to boats and birding binoculars.

Pretty soon “getting away from it all” will mean “going home.”