I couldn’t believe how absolutely beautiful the day was today. I could almost smell Spring in the air. As each year passes since the StreetScape project was completed, I’m noticing more and more people leisurely walking around the downtown on Sunday afternoons. It may not seem so significant, but if the general public get into the habit of strolling the downtown on Sundays, I believe it gives them more incentive to do business downtown. I know we cannot turn the clocks back 40 or 50 years when nearly all shopping was done downtown. There will always be those who will be pinching every penny and driving clear across town to purchase something with a coupon in their wallets. I had to laugh at one of my relatives who watches all the ads and indeed coupon clips as likely his hobby. I asked him why he was driving clear out west of town to get gas when it was so blizzardy the day we spoke. He squirmed a bit and said, “I had a coupon that offered 4 cents per gallon off the gas I purchased.” I simply shook my head and changed the subject. I think he was simply looking for something to help kill time.
Once we start moving more away from the idea of getting more for less, we will start seeing people shopping for things of greater quality rather than inferior. I was reminded of that idea by a client who recently re-modeled a higher end apartment house she owns. She said, “When I did the upgrading of my units which was being done for the first time since construction since I’ve always been keen on keeping up with repairs, I decided to purchase the best quality upgrades.” She went on to say, “The apartment house that is very similar to mine is being upgraded for the third time. That should tell you something about the quality of materials used.” She’s right. Quality and sturdily built components of apartments are able to endure more wear and tear by tenants.
I was recently called by a customer to see a home purchased which was built in the 1950’s. I was again reminded how well some of the homes built in those years were constructed. Real wood doors and trim, skim coated plaster walls and ceilings, oak floors and tile that looked almost as though it was just recently installed. Even the attached garage floor was un-cracked. I don’t even want to think how many times I’ve been told by concrete contractors about the one thing they will guarantee about their work; that in time there will be cracking. I wonder what they did years ago to keep sidewalks and driveways from cracking. I visited with a longtime concrete block layer who looked at a basement of a home I have listed regarding some of the cracks in the mortar of the basement walls. My suspicions were confirmed, he said the movement was not great enough to warrant replacement. He assured me all that was needed, would be to repair the mortar joints and make sure the gutters clear, and the extensions are kept attached to the downspouts. I’ve rarely seen block basement walls that have never cracked. When they have severe bows in the long walls is what concerns me most.
Back to Mason City’s central business district. I remain up-beat about the positive things that are on the horizon for our downtown. I’m happy in not hearing but a few people vollying negative comments after the StreetScape Project and Storefront Projects were completed. Too bad for them. I think we’ll be seeing more pedestrians downtown when the general public decides to take up sauntering. Could it be our new sport?