The Parasitics


It’s official.  Today, 718 E. State Street is sold and closed.  When I met the buyer I said, “You’re lucky because you purchased the last diamond in the rough home on the water side of East State Street.”   Nearly all the others have either been expanded to be larger, or they’re much farther out of reach in price range. As I was walking out I smiled and said, “The yard is so big, you’d have room to raise goats.”  She laughed and said, “No goats, but I’ve already thought about having a few chickens.”  We’ll all have to keep and eye on the progress of their restoration.  I’m sure after it’s complete, there’ll be those who’ve looked at it when I had it listed and later say, “I could have and should have.”

I had a very good conversation this afternoon with a dear business associate about some of the cloaked agendas of a number of “powers that be” in our City.   For years our biggest gripe has been the elitist mentality of those who’ve managed to carve out their pieces of the pie in business, but are the first to set out land mines for those who want to create their own businesses—even in small ways.  I remember a client telling me several years ago about a City of likely our size who had only a handful of people controlling their central district because they owned all the buildings.  They took the time to investigate more fully the prospects of opening a business in that community by going door to door of those downtown shops and asking how their companies were doing.  What steered them away was hearing how many shopkeepers were barely ends meet because of the sky-high rents they were paying to their owners.  It sounded like about every year or two businesses would fold and un-wary others would open up some other type of shops and the vicious circle would repeat.  It looked like it was a given that most would fail and they walked.

I was surprised but yet not in hearing what they said because when there are too few in power, that’s when a dark form of control takes place.  There’ve been many people over the years who’ve said, “We’d like to open a small business here but we can’t find a shop cheap enough to get started.”  I’ve warned many about not getting into something with high monthly overheads.  My heart has gone too many times when hearing about good commercial ventures having to close their doors due to being bogged down by hard monthly expenses.  Owners of commercial buildings who set future tenants up for failure is very wrong as far as I’m concerned.  There should always be a win-win scenario where everyone is successful and happy.  It’s similar with real estate whenever I see someone a bit gullible in believing they can afford something their real estate agent or banker says they can—even if they’re at the top of the debt to income ratios.  I’ve even gone to the point over the years of shaking my finger at those who’ve set others up for inevitable failure.  While talking about our business environment today, I was keen to mention how many business owners have made their mounds of coin, sold out to the highest offeror, and moved far away to some posh resort community and likely lounging around swimming pools and sipping margaritas, and truly believing they’d been successful.  I consider that idea nothing less that pitiful.  Taking all one can from a community and never giving back creates an incentive for others to follow suit. You do remember the “monkey see—monkey do” chiding we had as children don’t you?  Just last year a successful couple whom I’ve known for years did just that.  It was just another exit of those whom I refer to as “the parasitics” of Mason City.  I wasn’t a bit sorry to see them go, and likely many others.  There are winds of change blowing across our country from the young, the bright, and the more soulful who’ll be more carefully scrutinize the words coming from the mouths who believe they have their communities fully under control.

Joe Chodur

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