A By-gone Business

It wasn’t the kind of weather I was expecting today, and for sure that bone-chilling dampness seemed able to penetrate even the thickest of my outerwear, which was reminiscent of those numerous cold and very damp days most Northern European coastal cities must endure during their winter months. What we must suffer thru with our blizzards, they have to continually brace themselves against the many similar days to what we had today.

For a December Monday morning, it was busier at my office than expected which had me running up until around noontime. Once again, I’m still not understanding why our Downtown bank drive-thru’s are far busier than I’ve ever seen. I know their lobbies are restricted, but even prior to this pandemic, there were never that many who’d be doing their business inside. I’m sure if I dare ask one of their tellers, I’d get a vanilla answer since they’ve all be trained to never speak about customers or trends.

One of my clients had to stop by my office to sign transfer documents for an upcoming closing on her home. She quite the dear one who’s been markedly easy to work with and always willing to look on the brighter side of things.

After we got all the docs signed and notarized, I was compelled to tell her about the recent flurry of impetuous acreage buying that’s taken place in North Iowa soon after the China-virus hit our area. Since she’d lived on a farm for some years, we both shared the real negatives regarding the upkeep of grounds and buildings, the wrenching fears of loosing power whenever those nasty snow and sleet storms would arrive, and most of all, the winter driving conditions on those long and lonely roads.

I couldn’t help adding how many of those buyers would fantasize along with romanticizing over what life on “the farm” would be like when most can’t even keep their city homes and yards in presentable condition. Too many times I’ve driven past those acreages several years later and see what were once calendar-perfect settings, looking like an episode out of “Green Acres” or the “Red Green Show”. There’s one particular acreage which I happen to drive past on my back-way up to Northwood, which is a glaring example of a know-it-all City slicker’s fantasy having turned into a pigsty. Thank goodness the previous owner is dead because she would’ve been mortified when seeing what her pride and joy ended up looking like. Yes, we did get a few reminders of what hinterland winters are like, but also a few good smiles as well.

My early afternoon appointment was to show 1707 S. Federal which is finally getting some good interest since we sliced its price in half. After getting a good look at it, I could tell the buyer wasn’t so much interested due to the amount of cosmetic work it needed. It’s unfortunate someone like the owner of the “Blue Heron” on the North End doesn’t show up and create something similar on the South End because there’s no question location-wise, 1707 S. Federal would offer more seating area, along with abundant off-street parking. I think an American-style eatery would be a good fit, or even a post-pandemic drive-up where you can order, pay, and your food being hand-delivered to you in a similar way as our Culver’s is set-up, but differently being where you’d already be parked under their canopy while waiting. Whenever going thru a drive-thu of late, I’d say 75% of those ahead of me, pay with their cards which would be even more conducive to that restaurant’s existing parking arrangements because of its existing canopy. Let’s hope there’ll soon arriving, a bona-fide buyer with real vision.

We did manage to get that sale put together today, but with only one little stipulation which should soon be removed. I do know both the buyers and sellers are excited which counts the most because both sides want it to happen. I dare not even “go there” when thinking about the number of times I would have to deal with a buyer’s or seller’s “second thoughts” after spilling their ink on binding contracts. No matter how much I’d warn them about there being no going back, some would still hammer on me with their emotional regrets, and yes, nearly always, emotions are what trigger regrettable thoughts and actions.

When visiting with a buyer today, he mentioned something about doing a build-out of a close to exact replica of a by-gone business. After listening to his thoughts, I couldn’t help insisting that if he’s going to get his personal emotions and preferences involved in a business venture, he will most likely fail because successful business owners focus only on what the needs and wants of their customer base is wanting. I’ll never forget how many times a certain family in our area tried to make a go at having their own businesses, but unfortunately they didn’t have tried-and-tested business plans in place, but rather just decided on something and went flying by the seat of their pants. So sorry.

You can be sure in these highly competitive times, quality of goods and services, cleanliness, appropriate pricing, and most of all, personality, are the key ingredients to running successful businesses. One particular family-owned business I marveled at, was the long-term success the “Bamboo Terrace” had in our Downtown for decades. I still remember the pleasant lunches I would have in their establishment in spite of them being busy. Once again, they offered good food, fair prices, and pleasant personalities. It’s no wonder the “Wok and Roll” is still going strong during this pandemic because their business also contains those same key ingredients for success. Like many, that’s all it takes, is for me to have one notably bad experience in an eatery and return nevermore. I’m still waiting for an honest to goodness locally-owned cafe/take-away to open up shop in our Downtown. You can bet I’ll be the one to first darken their door because I do very much dis-like having to drive either down south or out west to grab something.

Tonight’s one-liner is: Your worth consists in what you are and not in what you have.

Related Property:
1707 S Federal Ave. Mason City
Joe Chodur

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