Many rumors about Home Depot coming to Cape

Monday, July 1, 2002

smoyers

Within business circles, the rumors are flying. Calls are being made to the city's inspection department. Worried competitors are calling real-estate agents. Advertising reps are calling eager business editors. They're all asking the same thing.

Is a Home Depot coming?

The short answer is: No. At least not yet. Or is it?

There's been talk for years that Home Depot, North America's largest home improvement chain, was coming to Cape Girardeau. But all last week I heard a strong buzz -- and such buzzes in Cape Girardeau can be deafening -- that it was for real this time.

"It's coming for sure," said one.

"I heard they signed the paperwork today," said another.

I'd heard it was going out on Kingshighway. I've heard it was going out on Siemers Drive. I've heard all sorts of things. (Same thing with the Albertsons building, but that's another column.)

I tend to ignore such unsubstantiated rumblings, but I've heard from one of my most reliable sources that Home Depot has expressed a real interest in the Cape Girardeau market in recent months. Apparently, they've been sniffing for a good land deal and may be looking at several sites.

Home Depot representatives in its Atlanta headquarters acted oblivious and would only tell me that they're always looking for new markets, but they have no immediate plans at this time to build a store in Cape Girardeau.

No immediate plans.

At this time.

PR types are always vague, but there's a stadium of wiggle room in that statement.

I've also talked to big developers who have been linked to the project. But they're not saying anything either.

That's the way these deals tend to go. No one wants to say anything until everyone already knows about it. That way if a deal goes south -- like the Piggly Wiggly deal did a few years ago -- there's no bad press. No hard feelings. It never happened.

But let's think this through together. If you look at Home Depot's record, Cape Girardeau would certainly be the kind of market Home Depot would at least be interested in. They like markets to be at least 30,000 people, which we have. They have recently opened stores in Marion and Paducah. Why not Cape Girardeau?

I know Home Depot is looking. It's got people talking. I don't know if anything will ever come of it. In these cases, you usually don't know for sure until they've already picked out the wallpaper.

But, until we do know, the buzz goes on.

Car deal breaks down

A deal that would have brought Charleston, Mo., used car dealership to Cape Girardeau is a wash for now.

Galemore Motors, which has been in the car business in Charleston since 1956, had planned to open today at 836 S. Kingshighway, said owner Richard Galemore. Galemore said plans were set until the property's owner called and backed out.

"I'm honestly not sure what happened," he said. "It just didn't work out."

Galemore said he is still looking for a site to open a dealership that will feature "nice pre-owned cars." In Charleston, he runs a new-car dealership that sells Chevrolets, Pontiacs, Buicks, Chryslers, Dodges and Jeeps.

He said he couldn't start a new car dealership in Cape Girardeau because there are none available.

"But we're still wanting to branch out," Galemore said. "We're looking to expand to other areas. We just opened another pre-owned lot in Hillsboro."

The family-owned business is owned by Galemore, his 80-year-old father, L.E. Galemore, and his son, Steven. He said he hopes to get his new lot in Cape up and running soon.

More on body scans

I wrote a story a few weeks back about a new mobile CAT scan unit that visited Cape Girardeau and Jackson that was hyped as technology that could save lives by finding abnormalities before they result in cancer.

I also wrote that some prominent government and medical groups warned that such tests may be fruitless, costly and could cause more health harm than good.

But Tara Parker-Pope, a medical columnist in the Wall Street Journal offered this opinion last week: "... When deciding whether to have a body scan, remember this: The medical establishment has a vested interest in keeping patients out of scanning centers."

When patients go to scanning centers like the mobile unit, she writes, not only do doctors lose out on money from an office visit, but they also lose much of their power over patients.

Parker-Pope encourages such visits.

"The biggest benefit of the tests," she says, "may simply provide a dramatic wake-up call."

I wonder if it would have helped Darryl Kile.

Pet Sounds

Petco actually opened June 7, but held a wildly fun grand opening over the weekend. Animal lovers brought in their furry friends to participate in a pet/owner look-alike contest. (I look like a Scottish terrier.)

There was also a pooch plunge, in which dogs bobbed for toys. There was also a clown for kids, a coloring contest and something called a moonwalk.

I also had a brief chat with the new manager, Patrick Carlson. The 28-year-old moved here from Daytona Beach, where he was an assistant manager of a Petco.

"It's been fabulous," he said. "We've already received a tremendous response from this community."

He sounds like a cool cat.

Aeropostale opens

On Friday, Aeropostale, one of the most popular men's and junior's retail chains, opened its newest store at the Westfield Shoppingtown West Park.

The mall's marketing director, Joyce Hunter, would have been livid if she had seen the press announcement from Aeropostale. It called its new landlord -- gasp! -- West Park Mall.

Anyway, the store looks pretty cool, too. Perforated metal display fixtures, blonde wood flooring and brushed steel accents create a cool and unpretentious environment. They also tell me new merchandise arrives at the stores weekly, keeping up with the ever-changing trends.

That's ham-tastic!

The HoneyBaked Ham Co. has announced that it has purchased Heavenly Ham, which merges Heavenly Ham's 200 franchises with HoneyBake's 300 stores.

That's a lot of ham.

But Cape Girardeau's Heavenly Ham won't be changing, said store owner Kenny Ritter.

"We're staying the same," Ritter said. "I don't foresee any changes. All of our items will remain the same. We will not be selling any of the HoneyBaked products."

Mobile kids

A recent survey finds that many American adults with wireless phone service think it's a good idea for most kids between 12 and 18 to have their own cell phones.

In a survey by Fenton, Mo.-based Maritz Poll, 54 percent of 803 people said safety was a primary reason why kids should be allowed to carry mobile phones. And they think children should be allowed to carry them to school, despite bans on them.

"Parents and adults who subscribe to wireless services appear to view cell phone ownership among teen-agers as perfectly normal -- equal to buying their kid a bicycle or a new video game," said Maritz's Paul Pacholski.

Work versus play

Work is a time-consuming affair, but it doesn't mean some people are devoting every waking hour to climbing up the next rung on the ladder of success.

In fact, most people have a few guilty pleasures and favorite ways to keep the pace of work from becoming too frenetic and frenzied. In a survey of 952 Americans by Moet & Chandon, 22 percent said they'd be willing to play hooky from the office if it meant doing something fun this summer.

Others said they found ways of holding work at bay without taking illicit sick days. Twenty-one percent said they don't mind stretching their lunch hours a little, while 9 percent said they'd skip out of the office early to meet a friend for drinks. (I heard that.)

And that's not to say that all those who do stay at work the full day always put forth a 110 percent effort. The survey found that 9 percent owned up to playing video games on the office PC or downloading music when they should be working.

(But not me, Mr. Rust.)

Scott Moyers is the business editor for the Southeast Missourian. Send your comments, business news, information or questions to Biz Buzz, 301 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, Mo., 63702-0699, e-mail smoyers@ semissourian.com or call 335-6611, extension 137.

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