Far too Late to their Senses

Fortunately the cloud cover dissipated and our sun returned to create yet another delightful Fall day in North Iowa. I’m continuing to hope we don’t get a frost before my tomatoes and peppers are ripened. Every quart jar of either paste or sauce I get canned from those San Marzano tomatoes, will make for many good evening meals, and hopefully they’ll last until next year’s bumper crop. A dear friend of mine re-gifted me some specialty tomatoes and two of them I’m going to save the seeds because they’re not only interesting to look at, but quite tasty as well. One of them is bearing canary yellow tomatoes, and the other one is smaller and shaped a little like a roma tomato, but striped with different shades of greenish yellow when ripe. Very interesting color and flavor.

My morning began quite early again, and mostly due to some additional accounting I needed to get finished, along with several checks I needed to write out and deliver to a worker as partial payment for the work he’s been doing. In the old days, we’d never pay until a job was finished, but unfortunately many of our workers are struggling and need to be paid for half their labor when half finished. The more I encounter such practices, the more I’m convinced there are all the more struggling financially.

One of my clients stopped by the office before the hour of eight to drop off an amended document which was filled out yesterday, so I had him go ahead and make those changes on my original, just so we were on the same page. I’m glad he called before he arrived because my front door was still locked. He was surprised I was there so early, but most people don’t realize that a quiet time alone in my mornings, is when I can get the most done, and especially before those vile robot calls start coming in right after the hour of nine. I thought our government was supposed to be doing something about them.

Since my agent Brandon Neve has been on a short vacation this week, I went ahead and stepped in for him on the closing of another sale of his. As chance would have it, I knew the buyers from 16 years ago when I sold them their first home. Once they’re moved, their home will be coming on the market, and if it’s priced right, it’ll sell quickly because of its location. Just about every home listed on the east side of our City gets sold faster than other “like” neighborhoods in our City.

While visiting with a client today, we talked about that recent murder in the courtyard of our mall. As much as our “powers that be” think our City is on an upward climb of prosperity, there are too many indications that it’s going sideways and in some cases, even sliding downwards. I had to laugh to myself when our mayor announced that he’s seeing all the more business start-ups in our Downtown, but in reality, there’s fewer than before this pandemic hit. I hate to say this, but some of these little specialty shops I see opening, will unfortunately be a short ride for nearly all of them because keeping a brick and mortar storefront open, you’ve got to have a solid customer base, and with the costs of insurance, utilities, mortgage payments, and those monster property taxes on commercial property, there are big overheads that’ve got to be covered every month.

I’m sure you’ve all heard that Market 124 is closing along with the ceramic shop next door, and the only part of that business the owner will be keeping, is the coffee shop. I heard on the street that Bare Sugar which is located right next door to my office, will be taking over the entire main floor of Market 124 which in turn will leave a double storefront vacant next to me for likely months and possibly even years. Someone asked me if their closing will affect my business, and my only response was, “I endured two years of it being vacant before, so it’ll be just another repeat.”

Unfortunately, in my opinion, the new owners of that building next to me paid about $200K too much for it, and from what I’ve seen, they’ve got a monster mortgage to pay off, and the biggest problem, they live in the Des Moines area. I wish them all the best in finding a new tenant for it in these struggling times. Hey, I’ve got an idea, we should petition the City or County to put several of their offices in it. Government tenants always make the best because their wells of money never run dry. When you think about it, that building is only a block away from the courthouse and City Hall. Let’s git er done!

Ok, now back to the “pseudo-growth” of our City. Here we have Market 124 closing up everything on the main floor except the coffee shop and heading out of town, and the tenant next to me stepping in, so what we’re left with, is one more storefront emptied. Since liquor stores have become so popular on Federal Avenue, perhaps there’ll be one opening up next door to me. Oh how I hope not because I’m already tired of sweeping up cigarette butts that make their way down to my front sidewalk from that tavern two doors down.

Now don’t get me wrong when speaking about these negative happenings because I still insist on being a realist instead of a nay-sayer. Most have no idea how many times over the years I’ve wished local businesses the very best, but after getting a good look at their overheads and weak customer bases, it only takes a short fiscal period for them to return to reality. Now when you look at all the non-profits we have in our City, they’re doing just fine because there’s no real estate taxes and little or no Federal and State taxes to pay, and you do know who’s making up those differences in government revenues don’t you? We are. My only hope is that our State starts rolling back commercial real estate taxes, along with Alliant Energy having one flat rate for gas and electric instead of charging more for commercial. Perhaps after all our brick and mortar commercial buildings are fully vacated, they will have come far to late to their senses.

Tonight’s One-liner is: I was in that part of the class that made the top half possible.

Joe Chodur

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