A Nebraskan comes to know Missouri

Monday, July 28, 2008

Introductions are sometimes difficult to put into words for this business reporter, but I'll do my best.

Two-and-a-half months have passed since my wife, Ashley, and I packed our bags and moved from Lincoln, Neb. — where I earned my master's degree May 10 — to Cape Girardeau. While I'll miss aspects of life in Nebraska such as certain types of food, friends, the Cornhuskers, snow (of course, no one is seeing the white stuff right now) and a tad less humidity, I've grown to appreciate the beauty of Southeast Missouri, restaurants that know how to make sweet tea and barbecue and, most of all, the amazing people and businesses in this area.

And to set the record straight, I am not related to Sam Blackwell, former reporter of the Southeast Missourian who now teaches journalism at Southeast Missouri State University.

I've had some time to learn the ropes around Southeast Missouri and am pleasantly surprised at what I've seen and experienced so far. The area has breathtaking scenery and ample hiking for the outdoors enthusiast in me, although I didn't see much of that when I interviewed for this position during the March floods.

My wife and I have braved trails steeper than we had imagined. Two lessons I've learned during those early evening and weekend hikes are to bring plenty of water with me and avoid the sun as much as possible between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

I look forward to writing about your businesses and life experiences in the future. If you come across a story idea, call or e-mail me here at the office.

* West Park not among malls being sold: I'll admit I'm sort of a mall fan. That may stem from my years of working at a fast-food restaurant inside the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, Ala., during my high school years. Hence, a recent tip grabbed my attention.

On July 15, Centro Properties Group announced it is selling 29 of its properties in the United States. West Park Mall is owned by the international retail investment group specializing in the management and development of shopping centers, but those who frequent the building can rest easy. Centro spokesman Jim Kelly told me that the Cape Girardeau mall is not part of the sale.

* Michael Tanner furniture remodeling

Within the next 30 days, Michael Tanner Furniture will temporarily close for remodeling at 2502 Tanner Drive in Cape Girardeau. Owner Mike Rust told me the furniture store is remaining in the building, but space will be leased to other businesses. The 9,100 square feet of available space can be leased to one business or split between two tenants.

After 75 years in business, Rust said, it's time for a change.

"It got to the point where we weren't profitable," Rust said. "We are willing to change with the market in the current economic climate."

* Scott City H&R Block opens new office: H&R Block's move into its new office at 2110 Main St. in Scott City will nearly double the size of its building.

The company had been in the Scott City Plaza for several years and recently finalized a lease for a 1,845-square-foot facility in the same shopping center, according to Tom Kelsey, commercial broker with Lorimont Place Ltd., who handled the transaction.

The new office is next door to its former location and was previously occupied by Hunt Brothers Pizza.

Kelsey said the owner of the shopping plaza, Rhodes Real Estate Partners, will completely remodel the space to accommodate the expanded tax office.

Kelsey said that Charles Riggs of Kennett, Mo., is the owner of the local franchise and expects to be completely moved into the building by the end of July in advance of the coming tax season.

H&R Block operates more than 14,000 offices worldwide and is involved in tax preparation, business services and consumer financial operations.

H&R Block has operated in Scott City since the 1970s.

* Mollie's changes ownership: The Wyman family is making another run at owning Mollie's Cafe. The restaurant at 11 S. Spanish St. in Cape Girardeau, offers a selection including homemade dressings, soups, artisan bread, house-cut steaks, poultry and seafood.

John and Jerri Wyman first purchased the restaurant in 1989 but family issues prompted them to sell the restaurant in 2002. But on June 2, they bought back the business because the previous owners were busy with other projects.

"We're in it for the long run," Jerri Wyman said. "Our daughter is now in college, and that allows us to concentrate more on the restaurant, which we are really having a good time with right now."

* Bank transaction: After 25 years of providing financial planning services through First Financial Planners/FFP Securities Inc., Tim Blattner and Gregory Williams announced a merger with First Allied Securities Inc. of San Diego.

Both companies are owned by Advanced Equities Inc., a financial service company with offices throughout the United States.

The office will remain at 1221 N. Kingshighway in Cape Girardeau.

Blattner, manager of the Cape Girardeau office, said the merger will now "offer our clients a broader range of investment choices and services."

* Real estate sale: Dave Soto's dream of owning a business has come true. In September or October, Soto will purchase Wunderlich Realty, a company he has worked for as a salesman.

Owner Clinton Wunderlich wanted to semiretire after 40 years of operating his business at 1200 N. Kings¿highway, and Soto was up for the task of acquiring the real estate business.

Soto emphasized Wunderlich will serve as salesman while Wunderlich's wife, Doris, will be property manager.

"I'm extremely excited about what will take place," Soto said. "This is the line of work I want to be in, and being an entrepreneur is where I've wanted to go."

Business reporter Brian Blackwell can be reached at 335-6611, extension 137, or bblackwell@semissourian.com

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