From Janie Sheppard
This post will most likely turn out to be a bit of this and that, locally inspired. A bit of this: I wish someone would tell us exactly what DDR, would be developer of the old Masonite site, is up to. Are they folding their tent? All I know is that Jeff Adams, DDR’s local man-on-the-scene, isn’t answering phone calls, even from people who were (are?) working with him. We do know that DDR, apparently without any qualms on the part of the Board of Supervisors, tore up all the railroad track on the property, which would be a strange thing to do if DDR was thinking of unloading the property, or maybe not. Mysteries abound. On a related matter, could someone who attended the December 14th meeting of Mendocino County Tomorrow report on what’s going on with that group?
The larger question posed by DDR’s plans is: Who does DDR envision its customers would be? Mervyn’s couldn’t make it, Kohl’s thinks it can even while more county residents have less money to spend. I’m curious how they figure that. Long suspicious of marketing studies I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that whoever conducted the original DDR marketing study was using made-up numbers, just like Ponzi scheme master, Bernie Madoff. Likewise, whoever conducted the marketing study for Kohl’s.
On the subject of made-up numbers one memorable scene comes to mind: Supervisor Colfax expressing disbelief that DDR’s proposed development would result in an increase of 26 eating establishments hereabouts. Disbelief seems too mild a word; astonishment perhaps? And yet on the basis of patently ludicrous numbers shopping centers get built. Not all succeed. In the end, I suspect their success or failure has little to do with the forecasts in a marketing study and more to do with elusive factors such as feng shui. There isn’t a lot of feng shui at the Mervyn’s site, which is owned by DDR, as Evan Johnson’s ironic photo shows. If Kohl’s succeeds, obviously I’m wrong, but I’d rather see the building demolished and a community garden established on the site, growing vegetables for the local food bank, Plowshares, and the Ford Street Project. The feng shui would emerge, people would eat, and profits would be in the form of healthier local residents.
The local farmer’s market at Alex Thomas Plaza has quite a different vibe: Local merchants selling fresh, locally grown food, handmade toys, beautiful woolen hats and scarves, and cosmetics, some of which I captured in a photo post. I’m spending whatever I can afford there, where the local merchants are appreciative and helpful and the profits stay at home. Why should I help DDR or Kohl’s when their profits go to huge out-of-state corporations? And what the local merchants don’t carry (yet) I will try to do without, or buy at a thrift shop, where the profits stay right here.
For a winter vacation we went to Mendocino to stay at the Stanford Inn, within 50 miles of our house, but with all the amenities of far-away fancy resorts. There, the profits do not get sucked up by a big corporate chain, but are plowed right back into the business and the county. It is a great way to get away while keeping your money at home . . . My grandson was drawn like a magnet to the electric train set up under a lovingly adorned Christmas tree; Bill and I loved the imaginative food, and my daughter and son-in-law loved the huge swimming pool and the hot tub. The dogs loved the strange smells, the other dogs, and the cats (well, love isn’t quite the right word for the cats, but their tails did wag).
And that’s it for today.