A few things that have crossed my path lately:
• It took longer than most people thought, but they announced they’re closing down the Sweetwater Kmart. “They” being whoever is running the Sears corporation now. You can blame it on new Walmarts just down the street or online shopping, but bad management played a huge role in Sears and Kmart not dominating the retail landscape as they once did.
I’ve been around long enough that I can remember the first Kmart out on Highway 68 being built in 1981. It seemed like a top of the line store for Sweetwater and we were all suitably impressed. It meant a lot fewer trips to Athens for our shopping needs.
Then it moved to its current location on Highway 11, along with a new Ingles, in 1993 and we thought we were set forever. Nothing would ever take Sweetwater back to the stone age of shopping.
Oh well. I’d like to say I have fond memories of the Kmart, but it was basically a place I perused to buy new shoes once or twice a year. I will admit they had good shoes at a decent price.
• Gas prices started shooting back up again. We’ve all made a few complaints but haven’t really gotten riled up yet, probably because while gas has gone up about 70 cents a gallon in the past two months, it’s still nowhere near the price it was just a year ago. Still, 70 cents in just two months…
The reasons given for the price increase are the usual ones. Switching over to summer blend, people are driving more upping the demand, the glut caused by OPEC is diminishing.
Experts are saying after this the price of oil will stabilize and we’ll never see such low prices again. Of course, these same experts also said we’d never get prices below $3 a gallon again and that soon they’d hit $4 a gallon and then $5 and never go down.
So, don’t get too excited in either direction.
• Saw a story that said a company called Clear Channel Outdoor Americas has put up billboards that can, somehow, read your cellphone and find out what ad might most attract your attention to one of those electronic billboards that change what they show every few seconds. Apparently they’ve got 675,000 of these things in 40 countries.
Senator Charles Schumer out of New York thinks this is a Big Brother reach by the company and says it’s probably illegal. He may have a point, but I’m more prone to wonder how they can get your phone as you wiz by at 70 mph and in a couple of seconds are four football fields away from the sign?
Several companies, including ATT, use the company’s data and at the moment it appears to be nothing more than another attempt to figure out to how to separate you from your money for junk you don’t need. It could turn into something worse, but the next time you see one of those billboards, it’s looking right back at you.
• A small Georgia town just south of Atlanta has instituted a four-day work week for its employees, basically granting them the permanent three-day weekend. Grantville started out experimenting with the idea last fall and it was so well liked by the employees that they’ve made it permanent.
Now, before we go any further, understand this is just a small town government trying to save a few dollars and it worked on a small level. This is not the government telling you when you can and can’t work your employees. I mean, God FORBID anything is ever done that benefits employees.
The town reports that the change has been greatly received and morale is up and attitudes have changed. Most importantly, the employees have forgotten they receive few benefits and no longer have a retirement plan.
It really just shows how strong the lure of the three-day weekend is. “You want me to do something that totally goes against my morals and principals while at the same time losing benefits and taking a pay cut? Give me Fridays off and you got a deal.”