Double-dip recession - What, us worry?

Monday, October 7, 2002

Double dip to most people means getting a scoop of rocky road and berry berry strawberry. But it takes on a more significant meaning to economists, who are debating whether the country will slip back into a recession.

Their concerns stem from some troublesome occurrences, such as the manufacturing sector shrinking in September and auto sales cooling.

Those worries are compounded by concerns that falling stocks, job losses and higher energy prices are causing business and consumers to retrench, threatening an already fragile recovery.

But not here.

In our little corner of the world, life goes on like a scene from the movie "Pleasantville," as we continue -- for the most part -- to be blissfully unaffected by recession.

While downsizing and shut-downs go on elsewhere, Cape Girardeau is abuzz with new businesses, and I'll give you some specific examples of some new ones in the second half of this column -- and there are several.

The ones I've already written about in just the past few weeks include Tuesday Morning at the Plaza, Space Walk Cafe and Duck Threads downtown and Tatmandu on Broadway. There are dozens more.

We've also got two new banks coming into the area. New bars and restaurants have opened in the past few weeks near the university. Home Depot's looking. And everyone knows about Logan's and Best Buy.

Construction is also wrapping up on the new La Croix Village, a 9,800-square-foot shopping center that is being built on Route W, just outside the Cape Girardeau city limits. It is being developed by Trish Lafoe and will include several new business including a second My Daddy's Cheesecake.

On the manufacturing side, Thorngate recently announced it is increasing its production by 60 percent, which will require boosting employment. Spartech is adding another line for its plastics plant in Cape Girardeau that will mean another dozen jobs or so.

It's a resilient market. When Michelson Jewelers, Pretzel Time and Cookie Corner leave the mall, Michael's Jewelers, Bon Pretzel and Casey's Cookies move in.

Our unemployment rate is a healthy 3.5 percent. It seems we're almost immune.

"Immune's a strong word," said Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce president John Mehner. "Obviously, we're always concerned when you see what's happening to the market, but we've been lucky so far."

Mehner, however, agreed that Cape Girardeau seems to be insulated.

"It's the same old song we always sing," Mehner said. "We're just a very diverse community, and that helps. It seems when certain areas struggle, other areas pick up.

"It's because of what we have -- health care, manufacturing, strong retail and educational services. There's a tendency for one to make up for the other. We don't get the highest highs or the lowest lows."

Dr. Bruce Domazlicky, a financial guru at Southeast Missouri State University, agreed.

"Unemployment has not gone up significantly, and we're growing steadily," he said. "We seem to hold up pretty well. This is a very attractive area for business. The population continues to grow and this is a strong retail center."

So around here, when someone asks you about a double dip, tell them you'd love to have one -- on a sugar cone.

Now on to the new businesses.

Top of the Pyramid

Pyramid Clinical Services has opened at Lorimont Place. The 2,654-square-foot space is located at 272 S. Mount Auburn Road and will serve as a corporate and operational office for the medical services group.

Pyramid provides drug screening for all types of employers and laboratories across the nation and also is involved in DNA paternity testing. The family operation is headed up by Drew Jones, who serves as president.

Tom Kelsey, broker and President of Lorimont Place Ltd., handled the leasing transaction. Kelsey, who serves as the leasing broker for the Lorimont development, said Pyramid is an excellent fit with their other office tenants including Med Assets-HSCA, HealthSouth Rehabilitation, State Farm Insurance regional office and several other medical-related businesses.

Claire Karnes, Pyramid's vice president, said they plan to open another office in Springfield, Mo., later this month. This office opened about two weeks ago.

The family had been partners in the Pyramid Group in Cape Girardeau, but sold it and opened this business. Karnes said they are no longer affiliated with that business.

A little off the top

More and more, men are going to hairstylists. (I, as you can tell from my picture, am not among them.) But at salons that see men and women, men have always taken a second seat to women. Women's haircuts seem to take longer and leave men waiting forever.

And the only magazines they have are Harper's Bazaar, Teen People and Glamour.

No more.

Hair Styling for Men has opened at 1207 N. Kingshighway. Kimberly McKee, the owner, said they offer men's haircuts, shampoo, beard trims, etc.

"It's an all-men salon," she said. "Men who want a style can come here, get in and out, and not wait for a woman."

McKee, who recently moved back to the area after living for three years in Columbia, Mo., has been a stylist for 16 years and worked at several places in Cape Girardeau and Jackson.

Tony lounge

Within the next month or so, Tony Scruggs plans to open Bigg's Riverboat, a cocktail lounge, private sports bar and an exclusive membership club at 2005 N. Kingshighway.

Scruggs, a Hayti, Mo., native who recently moved back here from St. Louis, said the cocktail lounge will be open to the public and will include a bar and food menu and music.

But the private sports bar will require a private membership to gain entrance. The private bar membership -- probably priced at about $200 a year -- will include food, drink and sports networks on televisions all for the membership price.

For an additional price, there will also be access to a VIP room, Scruggs said. That will include, for each person, a personal bar with a personal host or hostess. Reservations will be required for that. There will also be valet parking on the weekends.

"I think people are really going to like this," Scruggs said. "If you just want to come and eat and have a drink, you can. If you want more special, personalized service, that will be here, too."

Cause for alarm

Security Alarms has opened in Cape Girardeau at 1940 Golden Eagle Court. The business, owned by Kevin Wisdom of Park Hills, Mo., offers security systems for commercial or residential customers.

Matt Priester is the sales manager for the Cape Girardeau office.

"Security is important these days," Priester said. "You can never be too safe, especially when your family and your home is involved."

Security Alarms opened Oct. 1.

Quickly

Tuesday Morning has filed its application with the city, announcing that it will open its Cape Girardeau store at the Town Plaza on -- appropriately enough -- Tuesday, Oct. 15. It will be store 617, by the way.

I reported earlier this year that Mac's Smokehouse Airport Restaurant was opening a second location. That will happen within the next two weeks at 525 N. Silver Springs. Dave McAllister told me then that he had no plans of closing the restaurant at the airport and that this is just an expansion. They have good food, by the way.

Kids Wear Again on Main Street has a new owner. The previous owner has sold it to her daughter, Christina Ellinghouse-Batchelor. The business specializes in used children's clothing.

There's a new owner of Unique Brides on Main Street. Julie Southard and Peggy Smith have sold it to Jennifer Marlow and Valorie Marlow. It is still located at 17 N. Main.

Cape Reconditioning Center has opened at 835 S. Kingshighway. Owner Jeff Highly of Advance, Mo., tells me the business does auto detailing, and works on brakes, tires, clean-up, and state inspection -- mainly for auto dealers.

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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