Monthly Archives: December 2010

Oil: It’s about laziness (journalistic) and greed

In case you’re loaded or you’ve been busy over the holidays, or you’ve been busy getting loaded over the holidays, gas prices are about to top the $3 mark again.

And like clockwork, here come the pundits – Latin for “oil industry execs who desperately want you to spend all your money on fossil fuels so their speculator friends can get rich at your expense” – trotting out the same old lame and patently false excuses for the runup – Supply, demand, yada, yada, yada. As a journalist, it makes me crazy to see TV stations trotting these self-indulgent hacks out as experts.

Here’s a nice Bloomberg piece to remind the easy to fool among us that the pundits have one thing in mind – your money. It’s a sham, people.

Merry Christmas, anti-arena folks

It’s unseemly to dredge up the past, but I’m going to anyway.

I was on the front lines Tuesday night of what many of you forecast to be a true horror – traffic after a packed house at Intrust Bank Arena for Wichita State’s 82-79 win over Tulsa.

It’s equally unseemly to tell you, “I told you so,” but I’m going to anyway. It took me a whopping 10 minutes to leave the Eagle parking lot and get through post-game traffic.

Here are the facts: 14,500 people in The Intrust for the game. Gonna be tough to get many more in the building.

And still, less time out of town than it ordinarily takes me to glare someone into letting me back out of my parking space on a football game day at Oklahoma.

Those of you who gleefully forecast that parking and traffic would be a nightmare around the arena were wrong. Period.

But have a Merry Christmas anyway.

Holiday spending excedes forecast

Another piece of good news today: the National Retail Federation has raised its holiday sales forecast from the 2.3 percent it projected in October to 3.3 percent, based on what stores are seeing.

“Consumers have not been suffering from a lack of spending power, they’ve just been missing the confidence to use it,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz.

Small business moves toward optimism

One of the last hold-outs in the slowly gathering good news story of the economic recovery has finally checked in: the National Federal of Independent Businesses on Tuesday reports that its members are feeling their most optimistic since December 2007.  That’s important because small business generally has felt left out of the government-driven recovery and remained pessmistic all through 2009 and 2010. They’re the ones who will do much of the hiring that will bring unemployment down, but only once they feel the economy is on the right track. Although NFIB membership is still feeling pessimistic, overall, it’s less than it has been and the trend is upward.

Funeral for a friend

On Wednesday, Newton and Kansas lost one of its greatest entrepreneurs when my friend Jan Anderson was buried.

Jan was the matriarch of the third generation behind Newton’s oldest business, the 118-year-old Anderson Book and Office Supply on the southwest corner of Main and Broadway.

Jan was an Anderson by marriage, but I never thought of her that way: Her unswerving loyalty, grace and business acumen made her more of an Anderson sister in my mind.

She fit seamlessly into the uncomplicated yet effective “business plan” that the Andersons have practiced for decades: Treat customers as friends, sell them quality products and offer them the highest level of customer service.

The Andersons are entrepreneurs in the purest sense of the word, entrepreneurs who haven’t hesitated to reinvent themselves: from appliances to texbooks to books to office supply to a burgeoning eBay business.

Jan and her husband Phil, and the generations before them, are a dying breed of American business owner: There’s no focus on maximizing every single dime that can be drawn out of the business month; instead, those numbers take care of themselves if you treat your customers right and sell them quality products.

They’re the antithesis of the Wall Street money grabbers that blew up the American economy. And they did their business thing in a wonderfully nostalgic store right out of the 1930s.

If you want to see business transacted the old fashioned way, pay a visit to the corner of Main and Broadway in Newton. You won’t be sorry.