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VOL. 131 | NO. 18 | Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: Kroger Disses Clarence Saunders, Mud Island Plans and The Australians

By Bill Dries

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What is old has become new again. And judging by your reaction to Andy Meek’s story on the Kroger plans for online ordering of groceries, what is old has gone viral as well.
Here are the basics:
You order from a list of items and Kroger fills the order and has it waiting for you to pick up.
When you think about the idea of supermarkets, which originated here in Memphis with Piggly Wiggly, it’s enough to make the Piggly Wiggly founder himself, Clarence Saunders, spin in his grave.
Before he came up with the idea of taking store shelves from behind the counter and putting them out there for you to get your own stuff from them, you would tell your grocer what you wanted and he would write it down on a paper bag and get it for you, wrap it up and present it to you.
Saunders changed all of that as you know if you’ve seen the Pink Palace’s child-sized replica of a Piggly Wiggly store from the start of the 20th century.
A century later, no paper bags and you can still walk among the shelves if you wish.
Perhaps this isn’t that extreme. Maybe this is simply a swing of the pendulum, back toward the middle ground.
Saunders tried to push it even further with his Keedoozle stores that followed Piggly Wiggly. In those stores, the items were lined up in what amounted to vending machines with shoppers releasing an item from the vertical row with a key.
Here Saunders went too far. He mashed the bread.

A big news day Monday on other fronts.

We got the first look at the five applications to the Riverfront Development Corp. to redevelop Mud Island River Park. Technically these are applications with the specific plans including financing due at the RDC in another month.
But all but one of the applicants submitted some plans – albeit tentatively and without confirmed financing options – to the RDC.
The one who didn’t was Bass Pro Shops, the neighbors on the harbor who moved into the Pyramid just this past May.

On the Overton Park front, Memphis City Council member Worth Morgan on Behind The Headlines. That’s not all he talked about on the show recorded Friday during the faux blizzard. I promise that’s the last reference to the storm that wasn’t.
He also talked about public safety issues and the council’s coming budget season that begins in April.

Is Amazon coming after FedEx? The head of a new logistics start-up thinks so. This is not a new discussion for FedEx founder Fred Smith who routinely wades into these waters with analysts during the company’s quarterly earnings conference calls. Smith doesn’t think his company is even in the same business as rival UPS much less Amazon.
And don’t forget Amazon is a customer of FedEx, another feature of a fascinating world where competitors aren’t necessarily in the same business and use each other’s services.

Late last year, our newsroom was abuzz with speculation about a group of real estate investors from Australia who were buying real estate Downtown. Yes, we really do have these kinds of conversations as well as who would win if certain local political figures got into a street fight. We haven’t done that one much recently because of the new council. We are still gauging their abilities to fight, their tactics and how fast they would heal to make the right kind of match-ups.
And now I’ve broken the Fight Club rule – don’t talk about Fight Club.
Anyway, Madeline Faber has talked to the Australian investors and the folks they are working with stateside about their intentions and what this means for Downtown.

In other real estate developments, (see what I did there) we know who the anchor tenant is for the retail center at Sam Cooper Boulevard and Tillman Street. It’s Save-A-Lot Food Stores which will hire 30 people out of 50 total who will work in the center.
This is the first use of the Community Builder tax incentives by the Economic Development Growth Engine organization. And how the Save-A-Lot fares will be another part of the ongoing discussion about the incentives we use to point development into areas where developers might not immediately consider for their projects in terms of the bottom line.

Don Wade’s post mortem on the Tigers basketball loss to East Carolina over the weekend and Tigers football gets five more commitments.

Linden Camilla Towers sells; a payroll and tax services company buys an East Memphis building for its headquarters; and Exeter sells 13 of its industrial properties in Memphis as part of a larger sale of its national portfolio – all in the Memphis Real Estate Recap.

In Nashville, Monday saw more calls for the resignation of Franklin state Representative Jeremy Durham. It began with the leader of the Tennessee Democratic Party. By the end of the day on Capitol Hill, top Republicans had joined the call and some legislators of both parties were calling for a sexual harassment investigation of Durham. Durham is a Republican. Over the weekend, he gave up his leadership position as majority whip in the House after initially denying he had done that.

At the end of the week in Nashville, state Senator Lee Harris of Memphis tells us he will announce his intentions in the August Congressional Democratic primary. Harris is considering a challenge of incumbent Congressman Steve Cohen.

In the national economy, McDonald’s see a jump at breakfast and the world economy since the Fed raised interest rates.

PROPERTY SALES 124 481 17,865
MORTGAGES 127 530 20,565
BANKRUPTCIES 51 261 11,425