Sunday, April 29, 2012

'Security is mostly a superstition ... "

There was an interesting piece in the New York Times this weekend, "My Faith Based Retirement," about financial planning and Baby Boomers. The largest generation in American history, of which I am part, is hurtling toward decrepitude. Let the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth commence.

I like to think my wife, Karen, and I have done a semi-responsible job of planning for old age. We both have 401(k) plans that we have not raided (not that the temptation hasn't presented itself.) I wholeheartedly agree with the statement in this article that most ordinary people are not mentally equipped to handle their finances.

Helen Keller (1880-1968)
The biggest mistake I think we made was refinancing four years ago, switching from a 15- to a 30-year mortgage so we could get some cash to put a new roof on the house, replace the rotting deck out back and remodel a bathroom. Alas, we didn't have a family member who could lend us $20,000.

Still, that's nothing compared to the last six months, during which we've come face to face with how fragile any middle class family's finances really are. The week after Thanksgiving, we discovered a tumor in Karen's abdomen. Surgery and chemotherapy followed. Even with insurance, it has cost us $15,000 out of pocket. If we hadn't had insurance, we'd be pretty well wiped out.

In a situation like this, money takes on an unreal quality. What I think about more than anything is our dreams, what it would cost to realize them, and how little time we really have left. Should I take $13,000 and go to Nashville to record the 15 or 20 good songs I've written in the past 30 years? Or should I save it for the privilege of eating cat food when I'm 85?

You can spend your money on a dream or you can spend it on a nightmare.

My friend Patti Sherlock, a writer and cancer survivor, were talking Sunday morning at coffee hour about how illness acquaints a person with the fragility of life and the pointlessness of worry. She shared with me this quote from Helen Keller: "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."

Anyway, here's the Times article:

And here's Todd Snider singing a song that addresses the subject:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Shaltry recognized locally as Administrative Professional of the Year

Diana Shaltry
Diana Shaltry, administrative assistant for the Very High Temperature Reactor Technology Development Office, was selected as the 2012 Administrative Professional of the Year by the Eagle Rock Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals.

Shaltry was nominated by the entire group she supports at the Idaho National Laboratory and was honored at the 2012 Administrative Professionals Seminar at the Red Lion in Idaho Falls.

Shaltry has worked at the INL for nearly four years. Her boss, David Petti, said the first interaction many people have with the VHTR program is through Shaltry. “She has exceeded all our expectations in successfully working not only on day-to-day affairs of the program, but also in interacting with stakeholders," he said. 

As winner of the award, she received a special gift package, recognition by her peers at the award luncheon and free admission to the seminar. Administrative Professionals Day marked its 60th anniversary on April 25.

Carl's Junior files for certificate of occupancy

We visited the city of Idaho Falls Building Department office Thursday morning to find out whether there was anything new to report. There wasn't anything big, but there were a few things worth relating.

Carl's Jr. filed Wednesday for a certificate of occupancy for its Northgate Mile restaurant. The opening was originally planned for April 16, but there were delays in getting the parking lot finished and engineering the storm water collection system. The restaurant is taking applications.

Teton Pharmacy has filed a site plan and building plan Wednesday for a new building on Jafer Court, south of Bonaventure Senior Living on Hitt Road. The main floor will be 5,350 square feet, the basement about half that size.

Rosemark Women's Care Specialists is looking at moving to a new location, at the corner of Potomac and Fountainbleu. The plat has been recommended for approval by the Idaho Falls Planning and Zoning Commission, and is scheduled to go before the City County at its May 10 meeting.

Last of all, Dr. Slaughter's House of Terror is moving to a new location at 680 First St., next door to Bowl-ero (the old Buttrey Food & Drug, later LifeLink). A sign has already been put up advertising a Friday July 13 opening. Thursday morning we stuck our head in to hear circular saws and hammers (though no chainsaws; that must come later), with plenty of framing already done. The city building officials were very curious to learn of this, since they had seen no permits. We're sure the matter will be resolved to everyone's satisfaction, if it hasn't been resolved already.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Celt Pub plans July 28 opening

The scene Wednesday at The Celt Pub, 398 W. Broadway.
Major renovation is going on at The Celt Pub, at the corner of Broadway and Park Avenue, in preparation for its opening this summer. Owner Janice McGeachin said she and her husband, Jim, are planning a July 28 opening.

Upgrading a building so old has its own special challenges and surprises. McGeachin said that cracks in the bricks and a lack of structural support made them decide to rebuild the walls. This necessitated the removal of the old wagon wheel windows, which have gone into storage.

"It actually will look more like the original, but also fit the look of an Irish pub," McGeachin said. "We think the wheels are cool, and want to incorporate them into the interior decor, any ideas?

The Celt's Facebook page can be found at

Allegiant flights to Bay Area begin Friday

Allegiant Travel Co., which currently runs non-stop flights between Idaho Falls and Las Vegas, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Los Angeles, starts its twice-weekly flights to Oakland, Calif., on Friday.

Fares for the first few weeks start as low as $40 one-way, although that applies only to certain dates. Using the booking program on Allegiant's Web site, if I wanted a round trip this weekend, flying out Friday and returning Monday, the cost would be $493.20 (that includes taxes). That's last minute, though. If I wanted to do the wine country for my birthday at the end of July, I could get a ticket and a room in Napa for as little as $542.83.

Other big news from Allegiant is that they are adding service between Las Vegas and Honolulu starting June 29. This doesn't mean you can book Allegiant out of Idaho Falls, change planes in Vegas and head for Hawaii.

"Our business model isn't based on connecting flights," said Sabrina LoPiccolo, spokeswoman for the company. Allegiant is more focused on offering travel deals to its customers by providing low-cost travel packages that include not only air, but hotel, rental car and attractions.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bonneville County first-quarter home sales show growth over 2011

Today's big economic indicator story was new home sales and how they fell 7.1 percent in March. The Commerce Department said that sales dropped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 328,000 units. That followed a 7.3 percent increase in sales in February. The figure from February had been revised up from an initial estimate that sales had fallen 1.6 percent.

If you haven't heard the story, here's the link from NPR:

And here's something even niftier, also from NPR, an interactive map that shows county-by-county foreclosure and unemployment rates, plus median household income: Here's what the local numbers were:

39,731 households
Foreclosures: 1 in 1,046

16,141 households
Foreclosures: 1 in 2,306

8,722 households
Foreclosures: 1 in 2,907

11,280 households
Foreclosures: Data not available

8,531 households
Foreclosures: 1 in 4,266

The best local figures I have for real estate come from the Snake River Multiple Listing Service. Crunching the numbers from the first three months of 2011 and 2012, it looks like business is picking up in Bonneville County and at least holding steady in the outlying areas. Take a look for yourself:

Dave & Buster's discovers Idaho

I picked this out of today's Idaho Statesman and thought it might be of interest to at least some BizMojo Idaho readers:

Dave & Buster's eatery, bar and arcade planned in Boise

The national restaurant chain based in Dallas filed plans with the city to open in the former Circuit City building in the Boise Towne Plaza on North Milwaukee Street.

What’s in the works? City records show the company wants to remodel the 24,500-square-foot building for restaurant and entertainment use. It would have seating for 279 people and 116 parking spaces.

What is Dave & Buster’s? It’s like a Chuck E. Cheese’s for grown-ups. The restaurant serves American fare like cheese fries, buffalo wings, steak and burgers. The bar has a full drink menu including liquor, beer and wine. The arcade includes sports, driving and flying, action and combat and classic video games. The chain also markets itself as a place for parties and events.

My thoughts: Isn't there an empty Circuit City in Ammon? Now that Dave & Buster's has discovered Idaho, maybe they'd be open to a pitch (if one hasn't been made already). Maybe the demographics aren't right for eastern Idaho to be considered. Perhaps all the liquor licenses in Ammon are tied up, which could be an issue.

But it's something to think about on a Tuesday morning, a possibility to explore if nothing else.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bella Vita releases new catering menu

Bella Vita Bistro and Coffeehouse, 901 Pier View Drive, has put out a new catering menu. If you're interested in seeing it, click on the picture and see if anything strikes your fancy.
 Or visit their Facebook page,

If you're a restaurant with any kind of news, e-mail us at Our readers eat this stuff up.

Unemployment continues to drop in eastern Idaho

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continued to drop in March, and Idaho Falls and Rexburg put up even better numbers than the statewide average of 7.9 percent.

This was the first time in 2 1/2 years statewide unemployment dropped below 8 percent, as more Idahoans found work than during any other month since October 2006.

In the Idaho Falls Labor Market Area, the rate was 6.3 percent, down one-tenth of a percent from February and two-tenths of a percent from March 2011. The Rexburg area posted a rate of 6.2 percent.

The tenth-of-a-point decline in the jobless rate to 7.9 percent marked the eighth straight month that Idaho’s rate has fallen. It is now a full percentage point below the recession-era high in July 2011.
To read the full report from the Idaho Department of Labor, follow this link:

For all the numbers, click on this chart:

Friday, April 20, 2012

News as conversation in the social media age

I was asked to speak Thursday at the social media workshop sponsored by Media Network Idaho, the Idaho chapter of the American Nuclear Society and ComDesigns.

There was a lot of good information shared throughout the day, by Sarah Lane of TWiT.TV, Mike Hart of ComDesigns (who built the virtual tour app for the INL), Misty Benjamin of INL, and Cynthia Price of Child Fund International.

My remarks were held for last, so anyone with more important things to do could leave, I suppose. Still, there were enough longtime newspaper people in the room who could relate to what I had to say about how much the world has changed in 30 years. For anyone interested, here are the remarks I wrote in advance. I wandered off script somewhat, but this is what I was prepared to say:

When I was thinking about what I’m going to say today about social media, for some reason I thought of the old sketch on Saturday Night Live about the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer.

Phil Hartmann has been thawed from a glacier and become an attorney. Any time he gets into trouble, through stupidity or greed, he falls back on, “I’m just a caveman! Your computers confuse and frighten me!”

Having spent nearly 30 years in print journalism, I think I can relate. The social media age has come, and all of us who want to stay in the game have to adapt.

But how confusing is social media, really? Think of the town criers who used to walk the streets, ringing their bells and hollering out the latest news. Who were these people, and what drove them? Need for attention, I’m sure. I can relate to that.

The more important question, though: While the town crier had the news, where did he get the news?
I don’t think he hit the streets armed with the day’s headlines and walked around oblivious to his audience. In fact, he was probably a person who stopped in every doorway, shop and tavern to talk to anyone who would put up with him. The stories he collected from the people he met were the ones he shouted out.

This was social media in its basic form. When you forget the technology, social media is as old human nature itself. As social, verbal creatures, we have an innate need to know the latest and share. The Odyssey was social media. Medieval murder ballads were social media. We tell stories to each other to make sense of our world.

If the town crier had any sense, he’d eventually want to save his lungs by buying a press and starting a newspaper. But the point I want to make is that news is a two-way street, and we have entered an age in which that is more obvious than ever. I’ve sort of known it all along, but my experience as a blogger this past year has brought it home to me like never before.

After leaving the Post Register newsroom in 2008, I heard from plenty of people who told me they really missed my writing, especially the business column that ran every Monday.

What did people like about the column? It was subdivided into really short bites, it was conversational, and it kept people up to date on things that were happening around town. I answered people’s questions. People told me, “When I read your column I feel like you’re talking to me.”

My departure from the newsroom happened to coincide with the rise of social media. I had discovered MySpace that spring, mainly because I was interested in posting my original music. The summer of 2008, like millions of others, I migrated to Facebook.

This was back in the day when a person would use their Facebook name as the subject of a sentence. Who remembers that?

“Paul David Menser … is making deep dish pizza for dinner.”

“Paul David Menser … is gazing at his navel.”

“Paul David Menser … will unfriend you if he has to look at one more picture of your perfect children.”

Those days are long gone, and we all know how radically Facebook has changed communication. I have my own opinion about where it seems to be headed, but I don’t think there is any doubt that it has changed how we relate to each other and how we share stories and news.

Last fall, a customer in the store where I work recognized my name and said, “I really miss your column. It’s not the same since you left.”

That was when the light bulb went off over my head and BizMojo Idaho was born. What I learned was that my old format – short bits of “hey did you know?” type stuff -- fit the blog concept perfectly, and the stream of information could be continuous. People would make a daily appointment to catch up.

Now the Web is full of blogs where the most recent entry is six months old or more. That's because people discover how hard it is to come up with something new to say every day.

One thing all my years in newspaper business taught me was how to produce content. Unless I was on vacation or laid up with swine flu, if a day went by without my byline in the paper I would feel guilty. If two days went by, I’d get worried about myself.

Here’s something funny. When I was newspapering, I would never put my byline on a story that was less than six column inches long. I couldn't justify it to myself.

But in a world where people are looking to their smart phones for updates, short is essential. Maybe the people who look to their iPads are looking for a longer read, but even then the average iPad visit to my blog is only a minute and a half. I know this. Google tells me, and Google never lies.

A big breakthrough in my blogging was the realization around the beginning of December that everything I posted on BizMojo I should share on Facebook or Twitter right away. Until then, I would share what I thought might be of widespread interest, but I realized that was old thinking. Why not put everything up and let readers decide for themselves?

This came into very sharp focus in January, when I learned about the death of a local real estate agent, Galen Bush, who’d died of a heart attack while riding his bike on a Saturday afternoon. I debated whether to write anything at all, but thought I might help the family by getting the word out about a bank account that had been set up. Besides that, I knew him from a band we’d been in together. So I interviewed Galen’s boss, wrote six or seven paragraphs, posted it, then shared it on Facebook.

No post I have put up has gotten more page views in as short a time as that one. Why? Everyone who saw it shared it with someone else.

In the age of social media, news is a shared commodity. It always has been, but I think some people in the news business have had a tendency to wall themselves off.

Now, I’m all for professionalism, but I don’t think it’s unprofessional to have a conversation with your readers, your viewers or your listeners. And it’s a big question in the news business right now.
The best thinking I’ve seen on the subject comes from a woman named Doreen Marchionni, from Missouri School of Journalism, who writes a blog called Journalism as a Conversation. She recently profiled a book to which she contributed, called “News With A View: The Eclipse of Objectivity.”

Here’s what she said that really hit home:

“Conversation … is not a departure from facts-based reporting, though much confusion persists. Since completing my research, I have taken the data on the road, sharing it with academics and journalists alike … Almost without fail, I get some variation of these two questions:  How does conversation square with objective news? Is this the end of objectivity?

The short answer to both: It depends on what you mean by ‘objective.’  The long answer, as this chapter reveals, is that rethinking objectivity is in order, and that is a complicated finding. Despite the complexities of conversational news, though, one point is clear:  It represents a departure from the paradigm of the journalist as elusive, all-knowing, data-distributing automaton in favor of the journalist as co-collaborator, partner, and ordinary human. And for many, that is revolutionary.”

The Internet has knocked my profession sideways, not only financially but psychologically. The social media phenomenon has changed everything. It isn’t just a fad; it’s reality.

I.F. artist mounts colorful show at Art Museum of Eastern Idaho

Kort Duce's show "Collective Whimsy: Cockeyed Art" runs through June 16 at the Art Museum of Eastern Idaho. Above is one of his chicken-themed acrylic paintings, "Alarm Clock."
I had the pleasure Thursday night of attending the opening of "Collective Whimsy: Cockeyed Art," Kort Duce's show at the Art Museum of Eastern Idaho.

Kort, a commercial photographer, embarked on this project in 2007 when his wife, Kortny Rolston, bought him a set of acrylic paints and a few canvasses. Five years later, he has put together a collection of extraordinary paintings that I would encourage anyone reading this to go see.

This being a business-related blog, I want to mention that he has an online store where you can buy not only the artwork but keychains, cocktail napkins, cards, etc. Here's the link:!

The show runs through June 16. Here is a link to the Art Museum's Web page, where you can find more information:

And if you'd like to watch a video that Steve Smede of Idaho Falls Magazine made about the show, check it out here:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

iPad Today 93 | TWiT.TV

iPad Today 93 | TWiT.TV

Listening to Sarah Lane, co-host of iPad Today on TWiT.TV. This is the latest show.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

INL director to speak Thursday on nuclear energy's future

John Grossenbacher
John Grossenbacher, director of the Idaho National Laboratory and president of Battelle Energy Alliance, will be speaking Thursday to the Idaho Falls City Club about the future of nuclear energy in the wake of the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

Before joining Battelle, Grossenbacher was a vice admiral of the U.S. Navy and Commander of the U.S. Naval Submarine Forces. His academic credentials include a bachelor's in chemistry from the U.S. Naval Academy and an M.A. in international relations from Johns Hopkins University. In addition, he completed the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration Program for Management Development.

He is one of only a handful of officers in U.S. Navy history to be awarded both the Stockdale and David Lloyd Awards for Leadership Excellence. As Commander of the U.S. Naval Submarine Forces, Grossenbacher led the integration and consolidation of the U.S. Navy's Atlantic and Pacific submarine forces. He is noted for his ability to build and lead multi-disciplinary teams, to meet complex science and technology challenges, and to achieve success in developing and sustaining collaborative relationships with multiple stakeholders.

His presentation, in the multipurpose room of the Bennion Student Union Building, 1784 Science Center Drive, begins at 1 p.m., with question and answer time at 1:30. Gallery seating is $5.

If you are interested in hearing what Grossenbacher had to say earlier this year on Idaho Public Television about Fukushima, nuclear power and the future, visit this link:

Founded in 2007, the City Club of Idaho Falls exists to sponsor and promote civil dialogue and discourse on all matters of public interest. We strive to do so in a non-partisan and non-sectarian manner, while encouraging broad participation by the community at large.

To listen to past forum speakers, visit this link:

Marriott opening could be by mid-summer

For anyone who might have missed it, here is a link with the latest on the Marriott Residence Inn by the Snake River, courtesy of Local News 8. Not much new other than that it looks like the opening has been pushed back to mid-summer. Earlier this year, the developers were hopeful about having it open by Memorial Day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I.F. Power to upgrade equipment in Eastview subdivision

Idaho Falls Power plans to start maintenance work Monday on its underground distribution system in the Eastview subdivision.

The five-week project will involve burying new electrical conduit within existing easements and is expected to greatly reduce power outages in the area. No interruptions in service are anticipated while the work is being completed, but if an interruption becomes necessary it will be short and affected residents will be notified in advance.

Crews expect to finish one block per week, and will need access to customers' property. Individual customers will be notified in advance of crews working in their yard.

Customers with questions can call 612-8430 for more information.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Best Buy releases store closure list; Idaho Falls store to remain open (for now)

Looks like the Best Buy store in Idaho Falls is safe from the axe, at least for now. The big box electronics retailer has released a list of the stores it plans to close, and none of them are in Idaho.

Seven of the stores are in California, six in Illinois and six in the company's home state of Minnesota. The chain said it is also cutting 400 corporate jobs, trimming $800 million in costs and looking for a new CEO.

Best Buy plans to open 100 smaller, more profitable Best Buy Mobile stores, like the one that just opened in the Grand Teton Mall.

The company is trying to avoid the fate of Circuit City, which went out of business in 2009. It faces slower sales of expensive items like TVs, plus increased competition from and discount stores like Target.

Best Buy has about 1,400 locations in the United States. It has already closed two stores this year, one in Missouri and one in Arizona. Most of the rest of the 50 will close May 12.

Read more here:

For a complete list and the company's statement, follow this link:

If you're interested in Best Buy's long-term prospects, here's an interesting blog post from last week:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Moffatt Thomas relocating to Snake River Landing

The Idaho Falls office of Moffatt Thomas will be relocating to Snake River Landing in June, occupying more than 5,600 square feet on the second floor of 900 Pier View Drive. Other tenants include First American Title Co., Wells Fargo Advisors, Stifel Nicolas, G.L. Voigt Development and the University of Phoenix.
An Idaho law firm with offices in Boise, Pocatello and Idaho Falls, Moffatt Thomas been providing legal services to Idaho businesses and individuals for more than 50 years. Its partners and associates have achieved the highest leadership positions in national, state, and local legal and civic organizations.

The firm offers a wide variety of legal services and expertise, including agricultural law, health care, banking, finance, business law, tax law, environmental and government affairs. Statewide, Moffatt Thomas employs over 100 Idahoans, 40 of whom are attorneys. Eleven of those employees are located in the Idaho Falls office.

Snake River Landing is a master-planned community encompassing more than 400 acres of property on the west bank of the Snake River between Pancheri Drive and Sunnyside Road. The developer, Ball Ventures, has envisioned a project that will include retail, office, restaurant and residential space along with several parks, trails and water features.

For more information, visit the Web site,

Snow Eagle Brewing ribbon cutting today at noon

Snow Eagle Brewmaster Andy Shaw
There will be a ribbon cutting today at noon at Snow Eagle Brewing and Grill, 455 River Parkway. The restaurant, which for years operated as the Brownstone, is operated by Jerry Mitchell, who also runs the nearby Whitewater Grill and Wasabi Sushi Bar

Menu items range from a simple salad to filet mignon. They carry domestic beers as well as their own brews: Black Canyon Scorpion American Pale Ale, Beaver Dick Brown Pelt American Style Brown Ale, Mangy Wolf Blonde Ale and of course Snow Eagle Pale Ale (not that we'd encourage anyone to drink at lunchtime on a Friday.)

For more information, call 557-0455 or visit the Web page

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I.F. commercial building up dramatically in first quarter

Visiting the city of Idaho Falls Building Department office for another story Wednesday, I was struck by the building permit numbers for the first quarter of this year.
Last year, the total valuation for commercial construction through March 31 was a measly $6,500. This year, it was $855,000, a jump so big that that I don't even want to try to guess the percentage.

With the new elementary school projects due to start in June -- $53 million in bonds -- and the Idaho National Laboratory's new $30 million research center in the starting blocks, it's safe to say that we're looking at some big numbers for the year. Likewise, in unincorporated Bonneville County, Meleleuca is planning a multi-million headquarters near Interstate 15 Exit 113.

Other standouts for this year included an warehouse expansion for Northwest Cosmetics Laboratory on Boge Drive, more than doubling its space.

We are also trying to run down information on what might be happening on the southeast corner of West Broadway and Skyline Drive. Never want to get ahead of ourselves, but there are rumblings of commercial activity (though not Costco).

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Alpine Heating and Air Conditioning moves to new location

Derek Anglin of Alpine Heating and Air Conditioning
Alpine Heating and Air Conditioning is moving from West 19th Street to a new location at 170 Eastern Avenue, with an eye toward an April 23 grand opening and ribbon cutting.

Manager Derek Anglin said the new store will give them twice the showroom space, allowing them to show their line of Napoleon Fireplaces. The location, across Elm Street from the Museum of Idaho, will also give them better visibility than they've had in the past.

"It was time to expand and be optimistic about things," Anglin said. Founded in 1997, Alpine now has 14 full-time employees. It is a dealer for Carrier Furnace and Air Conditioning and the factory-designated service provider for Carrier as well.

For more information, call (208) 523-5542 or visit their Web site,

Monday, April 9, 2012

New bike repair shop offers valet service

Aaron Arave, the wrench man at Intergalactic Bicycle Service, which opened April 2.
Everybody knows what a pain it is to push a bike with a flat tire to the shop or to load it into the back of a truck or car.

One of the things Aaron Arave is offering at his new shop, Intergalactic Bicycle Service, is valet pickup-and-dropoff, to spare customers the hassle of getting their hands dirty.

An Idaho Falls native who recently came home, Arave opened his shop April 2. It is located at 263 North Woodruff Ave., near Sarah's Candy Cottage. His partners in the business are his father, Brian Arave, and Doyle Nelson.

Arave has 15 years experience fixing bikes and is certified by the United Bicycle Institute. He was voted Best Bicycle Mechanic by Boise Weekly in 2004.

"We'll fix everything from Huffys to high-end racing bikes," he said. The shop sells individual bicycles, plus accessories like helmets, gloves and locks, but Arave said he prefers to keep the focus on service and repair.

His charge for a basic tune-up is $35. Basic flat repair is $5 to $15. As for valet service, they will pick up individual or group bicycles within a 100-mile round trip. Individual family service must be at least $100 and groups $250. For more information on valet service, call (208) 360-9463. To call the shop, (208) 360-9542.

Reflections on a decent day in sales

Yamaha Clavinova
As lessons in sales go, Saturday was an interesting day at the store where I work, the Piano Gallery/Music Superstore, on 17th Street.

It was pretty much me and Mike Brown holding the fort. Mike's job is to sell pianos, and his special expertise is in the Yamaha Clavinova. I sell guitars, and my passion is for acoustic guitars from C.F. Martin & Co., of Nazareth, Pa. It turned out to be a good day for both of us.

In the late morning, a family came looking for an electric keyboard. Something basic would have cost them around $1,000, but Mike showed them a Clavinova. Why? Because he gets excited about them and likes to talk about them. His demonstration had them laughing, singing along and practically dancing. Watching from the cash register, I was sure the sale was his for the closing, and it was.

A few hours later, a couple walked in looking for a Martin guitar. They gravitated toward the little mahogany 00-15, a fine instrument that normally sells for $1,149. They liked the warm tone (rosewood is bolder and more direct). I agreed they'd get a lot of enjoyment from the 00-15. But since they liked the sound of mahogany, why not try out the 00-18V?

Right away I could tell they loved it, but at $2,499 it was more than they had in mind. But you know what they say: Love will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no love. We kept talking.

I've been a Martin player for more than 23 years. When I first got my D-19 (after 20 years on the Epiphone I got for Christmas when I was 13), the first thing that went through my head was, "I have never sounded this good in my life." It was like getting out of a Buick Regal and into a Porsche 911.

This is a lifetime purchase, so why not spend more on something special? My new friends went home with the 00-18V (they got it for less than they would have paid if they'd bought it new on the Internet, by the way.)

On reflection, it occurred to me was that when you're in sales you can be one of two types. Some people sell because they're naturals at it. It doesn't matter whether it's insurance, advertising, automobiles or club memberships. They go at it because it's who they are.

Martin 00-18V
"She takes advantage of people and they thank her for it," a woman I know told me about her sister, who is one of these types.

Then there are those of us who really need to focus on a particular product, who need something they can hold or touch and get fired up about. I gravitated toward guitars because I love playing them, and there's nothing that turns me on more than playing a really good one. If I could sell one every day, I guess I'd be doing great.

Whichever category you fall into, you have to sell as though your life depends on it. Everybody's in sales, whether or not they believe it. You sell yourself at a job interview. You sell yourself on Facebook. Unless you're dependent on charity, something that's not exactly abundant these days, you don't eat if you don't make money.

Do you believe in yourself and what you do? It's nice to have a day when you can answer that question with a "yes."

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Capital Press names sales rep for southeastern Idaho, Utah

Kathy Lisle
Kathy Lisle is the new advertising sales representative for Capital Press, one of the largest subscriber-based agricultural publications in the Pacific Northwest. She will be responsible for a sales territory encompassing all of southeast Idaho and the Salt Lake City area.

Originally from Southern California, Lisle worked for the Idaho Falls Post Register for 15 years, 12 with Eastern Idaho Farm & Ranch.
Based in Salem, Ore., Capital Press has a circulation of about 38,000, with subscribers in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and into Central California. It was founded in 1928 by A.M. Church.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Areva sees near-term lull in uranium demand

While Idaho Falls is waits for news about Areva and its plans to build a $3 billion enrichment plant west of town, this link from Bloomberg Business Week offers a sobering assessment of uranium demand in the wake of Fukishima.

Areva's shares have dropped 58 percent since the worst nuclear accident in 25 years. Japan has idled all but one of its 54 reactors, and Germany has reversed a decision to extend the lifespan of its atomic facilities.

Nevertheless, the company's chief commerical officer, Ruben Lazo, is optimistic in the long term. “In two years, there will be very strong demand on the market, as new reactors start operating, and as new contracts with the existing fleet kick in,” he said in a March 26 interview at the company’s headquarters in Paris. “I’m sure that Japan will restart a few reactors this year, and complete all necessary measures to restart many others in 2013 and 2014.”

The French company is betting that an 80 percent jump in global energy demand by 2030, combined with rising fuel prices and the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions, will lead to a 2.2 percent annual increase in the installed base of nuclear plants in the next two decades.

For the full story, follow this link:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Digital media expert to speak to Ad Federation April 19

With the social media workshop at the Shilo Inn and the guest speaker at the Idaho Falls Advertising Federation Luncheon, April 19 is shaping up to be a very digital day.

Here's the IFAF's flyer for Wendy Barnes of Pioneer Newspapers and OnPurpose Media. Rather than me rewriting the copy, open it up and look at it for yourself.

Young Professionals mixer set for April 12

Artist's rendering of one of the homes at Legacy Creek at Snake River Landing.
The Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce's Young Professionals Network will be holding its next social mixer at 5:30 p.m. Thursday April 12 at the model home at Legacy Creek in Snake River Landing.

The event is free, with food, drink, and drawings for prizes, including Jazz tickets and an overnight stay at the Marriot in Salt Lake City. For every guest you bring, your chances at winning will increase.

The group was started in 2008 as a way for future business leaders to network with each other, socially and professionally. YPN is an official committee of the chamber and has a board of directors made up of eight people. Its mixers are free and open to anyone in the 21-to-40 age range. They often feature guest speakers. For more information, visit the YPN Web site,

Legacy Creek is a maintenance-free master-planned community. The model home is located at the corner of Snake River Parkway and Whitewater Drive, near Stockman's Restaurant (which is catering the event).

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

EITC plans career fair for April 23

If you're an employer looking to hire, Eastern Idaho Technical College thinks it might have what you need. EITC is hosting a career fair on April 23 from noon to 4 p.m. for EITC students and almuni.

Graduates with the following skills will be on hand with their resumes:

Marketing & Management
Office Professionals
Web Development
Computer Networking
Legal Paraprofessional
Practical Nurse
Registered Nurse
Surgical Technologist
Medical Assistant
Dental Assistant
Radiation Safety
Professional Truck Drivers

Booths are free and include a complimentary lunch. Register here, or call Annalea Avery at 524-3000 ext. 3337, or email her at

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Best Buy Mobile store opening in Grand Teton Mall

While we wait for news concerning the Idaho Falls Best Buy store, Best Buy Mobile will be having its grand opening in the Grand Teton Mall April 11-15.

The Mobile store is located between Sears and JC Penney. In observation of its opening, it will be offering $50 off smart phones with any two-year activation. This applies to Verizon, Sprint and AT&T customers. It does not apply to iPhones.

Last Thursday, Best Buy announced it was revamping its business by closing 50 big box stores, cutting 400 jobs and trimming $800 million in costs. The company, which has about 1,400 U.S. locations, says it also plans to open 100 smaller, more profitable Best Buy Mobile stores across the country.

Going by the map at the Best Buy Mobile Web site,, the Grand Teton Mall store will be one of the first stores of its kind to open in Idaho.

Monday, April 2, 2012

All eyes on gasoline prices

This is just to note that the gas price gadget on the right side of this page shows Idaho Falls' lowest pump price today was $3.61 a gallon, down from Sunday's price of $3.66 a gallon. It's at the Maverik on Woodruff Avenue.

I don't know if this is a fluke or an aberration, but I think it bears watching. Meantime, here's a link to the page that you would get to if you entered our Zip Code in the box:

Event Center board busy behind the scenes

An artist's rendering of what the Idaho Falls Event Center might look like.
No ground has been broken, but things are moving ahead with the Idaho Falls Event Center.

"I get asked all the time what's going on," said Bob Everhart, a member of the Idaho Falls Auditorium District. "I tell them nothing you can see, but there's a lot happening."

The district's board of directors wants to be certain their proposal has everything they want they come up with a price tag, he said. If having everything turns out to be too expensive, they will start with the basics and have a plan that can be expanded in phases.

One thing the center will have is an ice rink for a professional hockey franchise, which the directors say will be the "anchor tenant." The ice will be covered for trade shows or entertainment.

"We're looking at having our first hockey game in 2014," Everhart said.

In May 2011, Idaho Falls voters approved forming an auditorium district and a 5 percent surcharge on local hotel guests, estimated at $1.5 million a year. Along with fees and ticket sales, that money will be used to run the event center, to be located on 20.5 acres in the Snake River Landing development, whose operator, Ball Ventures, has donated the land.

Everhart said they plan to put out a request for proposals and hire an operator within 60 days. Once ground it broken, most likely in 2013, the project will take 15 to 16 months to finish.

To finance the construction, Everhart said they are looking into having investment grade bonds issued. Rather than going to voters, this can be done with a judge's approval. "The auditorium district in Boise just did it. We're following their lead," Everhart said.

CRSA, the Idaho Falls architectural firm working with the district, has been testing soil to determine what it will cost to excavate the site, which is just south of Pancheri Drive on the east side of Interstate 15. Negotiations with the New Sweden Irrigation District have to be taken care of as well (any time there's an alteration to a canal bank, such as a bridge, it requires the operator's permission.)

As far as design goes, CRSA is working with Sink Combs Dethlefs, a Denver architect that specializes in event facilities and sports arenas.