Remember when Coborn's was an anchor on the north end of our so-called business district? That parking lot was abuzz with people who were patrons of both Coborn's and McDonald's. Buses and large trucks would be parked there. What has become of that space now? An ugly fence has been put up.
Coborn's closed a long time ago. For a long time after that, the parking lot remained an asset of Morris. Now a fence divides it. I would guess it was put up on the recommendation of a lawyer for the old Coborn's property. Yes, we all cheered when the dinosaur ate the lawyer in the movie "Jurassic Park." Weird Al Yankovic declared, in referring to that scene: "Dinosaurs aren't all bad."
Remember when the old Pamida parking lot was so bad with potholes, navigating it would feel like going through some sort of U.S. Marines training exercise? That problem is now fixed with Shopko.
But Cullen's leaving is a problem. It's a problem just from the standpoint of perception. From a physical standpoint it was simply a large business. We have said goodbye to the Morris Auto Plaza car dealership. An upsetting trend is developing here.
We rely on UMM as a base for our vitality or survival as a community. However, the likelihood is strong that the University will employ steadily fewer people in the future. UMM will respond to all the "efficiency" trends, fueled by tech, seen throughout our economy.
We always hear that without UMM, "we'd be like Elbow Lake." Shudder. I'm not sure we aren't headed in that direction anyway. Should we care? Many of us, it seems, are taking the attitude "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," and are moving to Alexandria. BTW is it "Alex" or "Alec?"
This trend of businesses closing probably has something to do with our proximity to Alexandria. Increasingly it is simply no big deal to make a trip to "Alec." What will Morris be like if we become like a "satellite community" or "bedroom community?"
The newspaper in Morris has become largely an extension of the Alexandria business community. The paper is owned by the same company that owns the Alex paper, which is really unfortunate. The paper pays lip service to "support Morris." Well, what would you expect them to say?
I have tried persuading Paul Martin of Willie's Super Valu to buy a page occasionally in that Heather Storck publication. I have also implored him to stop paying to have a weekly ad circular sent out via the Morris paper. A monopoly business does not need to advertise so much. He could pocket a little extra profit or maybe give his employees a little raise. But of course with the new "self-checkout," there may be fewer employees to have to pay. Of course, they'll say they won't be laying off or firing anyone, but watch: As employees leave through natural attrition, they won't all be replaced.
The Morris newspaper said they wouldn't be laying anyone off after going to once a week, but of course they eventually laid off a couple people. There are seven listed employees with the Morris newspaper, and they are all women. Why is that? Is it an accident? Or, is this one of those businesses that has a culture of nurturing women? Why are dentists male but their assistants are seemingly 100 percent female? Why is that?
I should quote Paul Martin on what he said when I made the suggestion of discontinuing the weekly paper ad circular. He said the store needed to keep "reminding people that we're here." I can't imagine a business that is more conspicuous in Morris than Willie's Super Valu. So, this can't be the real reason. I suspect the weekly ad circular is just an old habit. It's an expensive old habit. Oh, but we need to find out about store "specials." Why even have "specials?" Why not just charge reasonable prices throughout the store?
So, you study hard to save a few pennies and then on your way home, you get pulled over by police for not wearing your seat belt. There goes 110 bucks. Which brings to mind a negative in Morris that we can ill-afford these days: overly aggressive police officer activity.
When I think back to Cullen's, I'll remember how that business was hindered by the trees on main street. Their store sign in front was seriously handicapped by that. Main street is trying to hang on with business viability. I'm sure all those trees don't help any. If they don't help, why were they planted? It was probably because of the usual glory-seeking do-gooders who have no sense of business instincts - the same people who promoted the "green community" for the old school property. That won an award, remember?
Will anything new move into Cullen's? Might it be some new second-hand store? I once read that the first sign a shopping mall is going to hell is when the second-hand stores start moving in.
How about an indoor miniature golf course?
I would like to know how many people are still reading or looking at the Morris paper. The newsstand price got raised from a dollar to $1.25. Yeah, like that was really necessary. For that price you get a massive pile of advertising. Shopping in Morris is not that complicated.
We just assume that a large number of people pay attention to the Morris paper, just like Paul Martin assumes he needs to send out a weekly circular "so people will know we're here." It's an old habit. The millennials are going to slowly change that. Change can be a slow process, though. It's like this trend of people using "flushable wipes" instead of the old TP. I have never felt TP really does the job. I seek to wear undershorts that do not have "brown stains," even after riding a bike. It's about time we got civilized.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org