Memorial Day 2019

Bob Garrison

Bob was a neighbor of ours in Muskegon….and a Tuskegee airman. Bob was also a well respected physician in the community.

I did know that Bob was a Tuskegee airman….however that was the extent of it. We were good neighbors and it was an an honor to know and associate with Bob.


Recycle + Art

Another unique business….Art+O+Mat.

“Art-o-mat® machines are retired cigarette vending machines that have been converted to vend art. There are over 100 active machines in various locations throughout the country.”

Perhaps not a fast growing business….non-the-less creative.  This would make a nice business school case study….some factors to consider –

  • Supply of vending machines and cost to refurbish
  • Procurement of artists 
  • Add-on products and distribution channels
  • Possible partnerships to gain visibility and expertise

There is even a nearby location in the Cary Art Center.


Healthy Fast Food

Fast food is a big business….McDonald’s of course. Is there a healthy fast food alternative?….yes….Cava.


“Cava Grill, a popular Mediterranean chain, is expanding at breakneck speed.” There is a strong demand for healthier fast food and Cava is moving quickly into that market. There will be a new location in Cary soon….along with a Shack Shack! Plenty of options in RDU.

Right Price

Know the Market

One of the main issues in marketing a business is understanding the right price point….and knowing the market/customers.

Since Muskegon was an industrial town….pricing had to fit the market….so moderate price points and good quality products were the right business model. While an extremely competitive market….almost all the home furnishing businesses were in that range. 

The high end business went to Klingman’s in Grand Rapids. An Ethan Allen store entered the local market….however it eventually went out of business….the market could not sustain that price point.



I did make some mistakes (or failures) in our business….three that stand out:

  1. Too fancy an ad – Tried to upscale newspaper advertising
  2. Too quick to automate – Tried to implement a NCR paper tape accounting system
  3. Too slow to respond – Tried to explain confusing ad

I quickly leaned from these errors….

  • Our market was medium price, good quality, not upscale
  • The NCR system was adequate, but before its time
  • The confusing ad….don’t confuse the customer

These were real world experiences….not MBA case studies!


First Impression

I often wonder why some businesses neglect their outward appearance. After all first impressions mean a lot to the customer.

It was always our intent to present a pleasant appearance to our customers as soon as they entered the parking lot and entered the front door. A good first impression reflects on the business itself….the products….the pricing and the people in the business.

One business that always got our intention was just up the road from ours….a used car lot!. Most car lots were nondescript….this was very different….manicured lawn….extensive shrubs and trees…..well thought-out to showcase the products (automobiles). An excellent first impression.