Mar 24 2009

UNLIKELY BUSINESSES (shore bets & mud)

Who Woulda Thunk It?


I’ve been running across so many situations lately I could only categorize as unlikely business bets that I’m wondering about this economy spawning an epidemic of them, and whether I might indeed indulge the sensibilities of visitors to this blog with periodic excursions into business unliklihood. What say you?

     First, though seemingly unlikely on the surface, is the speculative category of business that I’ll simply label as a “SHORE BET” because it goes like this: You can be sure (shore?) that all the weeping and gnashing of business owner, manager and entrepreneur teeth (alotta gnashing, right!) is taking place inland. Inland? What’s that supposed to mean?

     Businesses located on coastlines— oceans, bays, lakes, rivers –are more insulated from economic downturns I am told repeatedly by coastal business owners. What? Are you sober? You have research? No. I have instincts and experience. I have ears that listen to business owners and operators who have weathered some tough financial storms.

     An increasing number of (perhaps wishful, but) confident-sounding people are of the conviction that businesses that depend on waterfront industries and (especially) tourism, are actually gathering strength in anticipation of the further collapse of inland business cousins.

     They say that when people have fewer dollars to part with for vacations, they don’t cancel vacations, they travel closer to home, and they look for self-sufficient environments where thay can pay all-inclusive fees that include meals and other amenities. They look for areas that provide inexpensive assorted entertainment and amusement choices and full range food and beverage options.

     Naturally, I think about where I live in coastal Delaware, and the magnificent seashore here that is beginning to host more and more vacationers (and year-long weekenders) from NY, NJ, PA, VA, MD, and NC than ever before. It’s almost like our coastline has been quietly waiting to be discovered by nearby state travelers who are finding vacation rewards so abundant that they wonder why they ever headed for all those crowded Florida destinations to start with.


NEXT, is baseball mud!


     As long as we have baseball, we’ll have baseball mud…highly specialized “Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud” that has been helping professional baseball pitchers get a better grip on the ball…that comes from a special secret location in a hidden New Jersey swamp!

     Now, talk about an unlikely business bet! Imagine Mr. Blackburne coming to you for startup capital in 1938.

     “Well, I got me this magic mud that professional baseball leagues will be buying from me for over 70 years. They’re going to age it for a month and a half. We’re going to sell them three-pound vats, two for each team in the majors, and that’ll hold them a full season…”

     “Yeah, right, mud, uhuh, sure, okay, well I’m not sure that’s such a good investment, Mr. B…”

     The amazing part is it’s true! And the company is highly successful. [Who woulda thunk it?]

Good Night and God Bless You!  halalpiar     

 # # #

    ADD TO THE DAILY GROWING 7-Word Story started 194 days ago (inside a coffin).  Click on the link to the right, or go to “BOOKS” tab at the top of this page, then to the top headline link.

One response so far

Dec 03 2008

Small Business Rocks (when it’s not too busy dancing solo!)

Every business


 has a responsibility 


to those who support, 


patronize, and service it. 


     I just heard a great radio commercial about two competitive antique stores right near each other that urged listeners to visit both places!  Can you imagine? 

     Do the businesses in your town cooperate and help one another, or do they seem to be out for themselves?  Is business cooperation real or just given lip service?

     Local business organizations seem to breed more in-fighting and one-upmanship games than genuine teamwork efforts to support the growth of area business.  One exception appears to be the Market Street “arts” or “creative” district undergoing major revitalization in downtown Wilmington, Delaware.

     Unfortunately, however, business teamwork face-liftings like this are rarely the norm.  “There’s always a small band of energetic active members,” reports one frustrated chamber of commerce leader I spoke with recently, “but they can never seem to put a fire under the others — the majority.  Our more aggressive businesspeople end up going under, over, or around the rest of our membership.  Our efforts are not nearly as representative of the town’s businesses as we like to think they are.”  

     One Virginia merchant chatted freely about her refusal to be involved because, she says, “All these organizations are the same: they collect dues, fees, subscriptions, and donations and either do nothing to promote business in town because they can’t agree on what to do, or they do things that benefit only a few businesses — the most active, or the biggest (which of course pay the highest amounts).”  

     “She’s right,” chimed in a neighboring business owner who happened by.  “Or, the other extreme is that whenever one of these so-called business organizations ends up doing something, it gets so completely screwed up because it ends up being done in such an unbusinesslike manner.  It’s embarassing!”  Hmmmmm.  Y’think?

     A New Jersey retailer/friend said, “Every year, I get membership sales pitch calls from the local chamber of commerce, the county chamber of commerce, the state chamber of commerce, the national chamber of commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Small Business Administration, the local merchants’ association, the Better Business Bureau, you name it!  If I could afford all these memberships, I’d be making so much money I wouldn’t need their help!”

     Add to this list, solicitations from youth and senior groups; athletic teams; health and education  programs; charitable organizations; community food banks; fire and police departments; EMT and first aid squads; state police; high school and college organizations, and on and on. 

     Every one most certainly a worthy cause.  It’s simply that running a financially successful-enough business to be able to afford to help all these fine folks when they come knocking at the door becomes increasingly difficult if not impossible.

     The best way to avoid the upset feelings that accompany making (or not being able to make) these kinds of contributions is to be sure to budget them in as a normal cost of doing business, to stick with what you’ve bugeted (and tell unexpected solicitors you’ll consider them for next year’s budget, or simply include a contingency fund in your budgeting for “emergency” situations). 

     Of course it’s also worth remembering that the vast majority of these causes is tax-deductible, and –most importantly– that every business has a responsibility to the community that supports and services it, and to the support services in that community!

     As for building more cooperative and more supportive attitutes between neighboring businesses, tune in tomorrow!   halalpiar   

# # #

See Nov 29th post (below) for New Year’s contest prize and rules – Then GO FOR IT!  Emails to with “SOUNDS OF THE SEASON” in the subject line.  # # #

Check out and contribute to the daily growing 7-Word Story started 85 days ago (inside a coffin).  Click on the link to the right, or go to the “BOOKS” tab at the top of this page, then to the top headline link.

No responses yet


Tag Cloud