Back home again...

Dateline: Wed 09 Aug 2006

My apologies for the lull in posts. My good and great friend Nancy Zeller, formerly with the Indiana Commission of Higher Education and now a professor at East Carolina University, has been visiting since Sunday and just left this morning.

Among my observations during her visit:

The faltering Indiana economy made it hard to "show off" Putnam County and Greencastle, my home bases, in the Western portion of the state. Yes, I know, Gov. Daniels is bringing jobs and industry to the state, but the trickle-down isn't happening yet and years of neglect and loss have taken their toll locally. In the past, the grand tour of picturesque little Greencastle included a visit to Refinements, an excellent antiques and fine gifts store that closed this spring after seven years.

The owner -- a saavy businesswoman -- said she had to give it up to Wal-Mart. About the same time, the longtime JC Hoffmann Gifts -- a similar concept, but not nearly as elegant -- closed for the same reasons. The most recent failure was Locust Hill Antiques, housed in a Civil War home on U.S. 231. Some of the partners in that two-couple, once-thriving business ran into money problems and had to declare bankruptcy. So the antique store at that location is kaput, altho the solvent partners -- longtime dealers and business people Dave and Barb Lane -- reopened at the antique mall in Brown County.

We did visit DePauw University and the English Buffalo Farm on 231. But what else was there to see in the town? Goodwill and pawn shops. Nancy noted that in Greenville, pawn shops have become commonplace due to the huge drug problems. Druggies are looking for fast cash, and pawn shops are their answer.

This would be an interesting biz piece -- trace the growth of pawn shops in Indiana and see the relation to that and the other downturns: high price of gas, failing industry, little shops on town squares driven out by Wal-Mart, etc.

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