VOLUME 4 NO. 4 WINTER 2013
IN THIS ISSUE: VOLUME 4 NO. 4 4th Quarter/Winter 2013
MANAGING EDITOR: ANN FRAME HERTZOG
MOM & POP SHOPS
CREATIVE EDITOR: ANN FRAME HERTZOG
NON-PROFIT: THE SHELTER
ART DIRECTOR: RORY HARMS
PUBLISHER: MARK KERN LAWRENCE BUSINESS MAGAZINE, LLC
CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER: STEVEN HERTZOG
GRAPHIC DESIGNER: CHARLES LEWER FEATURE WRITERS: ANNE BROCKHOFF,
MARK FAGAN, DEREK HELMS, EMILY MULLIGAN, DAISY WAKEFIELD
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: HANK BOOTH, JANICE EARLY, MEGAN GILLILAND, GREG WILLIAMS,
EDITORIAL SUPPORT: CLAUDIA KRESSIG
IN THIS ISSUE: 7
DOWNTOWN IN FOCUS
BUSINESS ON THE HILL
CITY OF LAWRENCE
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Pachamamas, Owner Ken Baker
DOWNTOWN IN FOCUS OFF MASS by DEREK HELMS photos by STEVEN HERTZOG
Downtown Lawrence is the retail and economic center of the city. Traﬃc is slow as consumers and clients park and cross the street and poke their heads in windows. The hustle and bustle of pedestrians is a store owners’ dream. Though Massachusetts Street attracts the crowds, businesses just oﬀ Mass also clamor for business. Ken Baker, owner of Pachamamas, knows the draw of working downtown. The chef and restaurateur successfully operated his restaurant in West Lawrence for years. Business was good, but something was missing. His restaurant on the south end of Quail Creek Drive was “tucked away” and, for some, hard to find. “You can only work out in the woods for so long,” Baker says. “We were in an out-of-the-way location and that really made eating at our place a destination. I knew I wanted to get downtown. I like the idea of eating dinner being an event, and that location supported that, but I knew I wanted more traffic.”
“I’ll look out our big windows and see 30 people cross the intersection on Mass,” he explains. “In that time, maybe one person will pass in front of our building. That said, I think we are in a great location. If I had opened a place on Mass, I would have had to completely re-think my business plan. Here, our event room is a big part of business. I don’t think that would have been possible on Mass Street.” That longing for more traffic is echoed by Julie Kingsbury, owner of Jewelry by Julie. Her shop on 9th street between Massachusetts and Vermont sits between two “anchors” of downtown: Weaver’s and Wheatfields. Kingsbury says she and her neighbors sometimes feel overlooked. “I’ll have someone stop in and say, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen your shop before. Are you new?’ I’ll laugh and explain that, no, I’ve been here for 9 years,” she says. “Something about not being directly on Mass makes people pay less attention, I think.”
Baker bought and refurbished his building on the corner of 9th and New Hampshire in 2006. After the move, the change in traffic was felt immediately.
When Kingsbury opened her shop, where she sells original jewelry pieces, she knew she wanted to be downtown, and being just off Mass has actually been a blessing.
“We’re not a destination anymore,” Baker says. “In the old location, we had almost no walk-in traffic. At this intersection, walk-in business is a significant part of each meal service.”
“I’ve loved downtown Lawrence since I was in high school in Topeka,” she says. “To me it has always been the center of the city. Being downtown, but on a side street really has been great,” she explains. “My rent here is about half of what it would be if I had a storefront on Massachusetts. I’ve looked a few times at moving, but
Still, Baker says, business isn’t what it could be, had he located one block west.
Jewelry by Julie Owner Julie Kingsbury the amount my overhead would increase with rent and needing more inventory to fill a larger space just didn’t make sense for my business.” Kingsbury says she’ll often step outside on a slow day and look east, to Mass Street, and see crowds of people walking. She says having that foot traffic in front of her store would be great, but paying the rent for a storefront is unreasonable for her. “My neighbors and I talk about how we can get more traffic on the side streets,” she says. “I’m excited about what Downtown Lawrence Inc. will be doing. I think that will help.” Sally Zogry, Director of Downtown Lawrence Inc., says getting more traffic to all of downtown is her number one priority. “We are working very hard to increase traffic to downtown Lawrence,” Zogry says. “And by downtown, I mean all of downtown. Not just Massachusetts Street.” In her role as DLI Director, Zogry says she is challenged to satisfy the needs of all downtown businesses. “I understand some businesses not directly on Mass Street might get frustrated with the concentration of events and promotions on the main street,” Zogry says. “But I’m also confident they will be pleased with some of the changes and events and promotions we have planned. Again, we want all of downtown to thrive, not just businesses with storefronts on Mass Street.” Attracting people to downtown, but to stopping them from looking directly on Mass Street is a challenge Meredith Moore faces every day. Moore, co-owner of the Wonder Fair Gallery, wants people to get a little more adventurous. “We tend to attract customers that are a bit more adventurous,” she says. “I mean in order to get to our space you need a sense of adventure to get up the steps.” The steep steps from the door just south of The Burger Stand lead to an open and airy space. The gallery, which is full of original art and design works by local and regional artists, overlooks Mass Street. The gallery opened in 2008 in the basement of what is now The Burger Stand. In 2010, when the restaurant opened, they moved from the basement to the penthouse, kind of.
“The space we were in was developed into a bar for The Burger Stand,” Moore says. “So we moved on up to the second floor.” Moore says she loves the space, but it presents unique challenges. “The natural light from our windows is beautiful,” she says. “And I really think the space we have is perfect. We have one of the prettiest shops in town. But getting people to take the trip up the steps is a challenge. I’ll hear people open the door and say ‘Oh, we’re not going up those.’ That is disappointing, but when people do walk up the first time, the overwhelming reaction is ‘Wow. This place is so great!’ In a way, those steps help weed out people that may not be as interested in our products. We’ve had to find a way to get people to window shop when they can’t look in our windows.” About a year ago, Moore started putting a wooden boat sign on the sidewalk outside their door, directing passersby into the shop. The response was almost immediate. “That sign has increased our walk-in business significantly,” she says. “I think it helps introduce the gallery to people who may not know what we do. We have an adventurous spirit, and the boat on the sea represents that well.” Like Baker and Kingsbury, Moore says she’s looked into storefronts on Massachusetts Street, but has yet to pull the trigger. “Changing business locations would cause us to create a different business environment,” she says. “We work hard to serve our artists and our customers well. If we have to dramatically increase our overhead, we may have to change some of our operating beliefs.” The number one rule in real estate is location. For Lawrence businesses, that has traditionally meant a storefront on Massachusetts Street. As the city grows, additional industries are finding their way to downtown Lawrence. Business models have adjusted to factor in the downtown exposure while planning for a limited amount of foot traffic. With a little creativity, businesses are flourishing just off Mass.■
BUSINESS ON T H E
BUSINESS ON T H E H IL L
CONSERVATIVE WHEN CROWDED? Crowds Affect Consumer Behavior, Researcher Says by JOE MONOCO photos by STEVEN HERTZOG
Crowd Size and Purchasing Heading to the mall for some new shoes? Dropping by Home Depot tonight? Or grabbing a burger at the McDonald’s drivethru window? These three scenarios would obviously entail different levels of crowds, ranging from big crowds at the mall to no crowds at the drive-thru. And according to a University of Kansas researcher, that difference in crowd size can lead to dramatically different purchasing behavior by consumers. New research by Ahreum Maeng, an assistant professor in the KU School of Business, finds that socially crowded environments lead consumers to be more conservative. Specifically, Maeng finds that consumers in crowded settings prefer safety-oriented options and are more receptive to prevention-framed messages than promotional messages — for example, preferring a toothpaste offering cavity protection over a toothpaste promising a whiter smile. Maeng also finds consumers in crowded settings are less willing to make risky investments. “Consumers in crowded environments get conservative and safetyfocused,” Maeng said. “We believe this is because people in socially crowded settings activate an avoidance system that results in a more prevention-focused mindset. This, in turn, makes socially crowded individuals more likely to choose options that provide prevention-focused benefits.” Additionally, Maeng finds that the impact of crowd size is influenced by whether the consumer considers the crowd an “in-group” or “out-group.” Specifically, out-group crowds — people the consumer doesn’t identify as peers — lead to increased conservatism and a greater focus on safety.
Maeng describes her research in an article titled “Conservative When Crowded: Social Crowding and Consumer Choice,” which is forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Research. The article is co-authored by Robin J. Tanner at the University of WisconsinMadison and Dilip Soman at the University of Toronto. Maeng’s research comprises six experiments, which collectively exposed participants to crowded or uncrowded settings, then had them complete tasks or indicate preferences for messages, products and behaviors. One study had participants complete a questionnaire measuring their preference for prevention-themed concepts (like “avoiding enemies”) versus promotion-themed concepts (like “making friends”). Another experiment asked participants to do a word-search task for safety-related words (like “insurance” or “helmet”) and neutral words (like “coffee”). Yet another experiment gave participants a $10 gift card and asked them to make a series of investment decisions based on different scenarios. Collectively, the experiments demonstrated that individuals in crowded settings were more conservative and less willing to gamble. And those impacts were moderated by whether participants were surrounded by in- or out-group members. Maeng’s research would seem to have important implications for various audiences, including consumers who could use the information to better plan the time and location of their shopping in an effort to better control their decisions. Of course, perhaps the most obvious beneficiary of Maeng’s research would be store managers and retail marketers, who could use Maeng’s findings to drive decisions on product placement, marketing and advertising.
H I LL
“For example, our findings indicate a store would benefit by selling and marketing products differently on a crowded Saturday during the holidays versus a Tuesday morning in August,” Maeng said. “And even within the same day, stores might consider changing their signage or product placement to account for different levels of crowding.” But Maeng’s findings go beyond retail settings and could potentially apply to numerous environments that vary in their crowdedness. For example, a doctor in a crowded emergency room might be better off delivering a prevention-themed message to a patient – “This medicine will prevent the pain” – while a doctor in an uncrowded exam room might be successful with a promotion-themed message like, “This medicine will make you feel more youthful and energetic.” Another example: A political candidate might use a safety-themed message at a crowded rally — “I can protect you from terrorism” — versus a promotional message on a postcard mailed to people’s homes. “We believe our findings could have far-reaching implications and help inform not only individual consumers and marketing professionals, but policymakers and citizens in any setting that experiences various levels of crowdedness,” Maeng said. Cash or Credit? Payment Methods Affect Consumers’ Perceptions of Products, KU Researcher Says During the holiday shopping season, millions of Americans will descend upon their local shopping malls in search of the hottest new clothes, toys and electronics. And according to a University of Kansas researcher, shoppers who use cash will view their purchases very differently than those who use credit cards.
New research by Promothesh Chatterjee, an assistant professor of marketing with the KU School of Business, suggests that shoppers who use credit cards focus more on the purchased item’s benefits – things like the great picture on a new TV or the super-comfortable fabric on a new shirt. Conversely, shoppers who pay cash focus more on a product’s costs – things like price, delivery time, warranty costs and installation fees. “When it comes to product evaluation, beauty lies in the eyes of the cardholder,” said Chatterjee, whose paper “Do Payment Mechanisms Change the Way Consumers Perceive Products?” will appear in the Journal of Consumer Research early next year. “People who pay with credit cards focus on the benefits and cool features of a new product, while consumers who use cash tend to focus on the price and other costs.” Although previous research has repeatedly shown that consumers are willing to pay more when they use credit cards instead of cash, research has been silent on whether consumer perception of products is also affected by the form of payment. Chatterjee’s research fills this void. In three experiments, Chatterjee and co-author Randall L. Rose of the University of South Carolina find that consumers primed with credit card as a payment mechanism make more recall errors with respect to cost-related aspects of the product than to benefit aspects; identify more words related to benefits; and respond faster to benefit-related words than consumers who use cash. In a fourth experiment, Chatterjee demonstrates that creditprimed consumers are more likely to choose an option that offers superior benefits than those primed with cash, but cash-primed consumers are more likely to choose an option that dominates on costs – even when that option offers inferior benefits. “Consumers develop mental associations about credit cards and cash from early ages,” Chatterjee said. “Credit card advertising, for example, links the use of credit cards with highly desirable products and lifestyles and immediate gratification. Credit cards also allow consumers to ‘decouple’ the joy of the product from the pain of payment. Cash, on the other hand, is closely linked to the pain of payment.”
Chatterjee’s research could have major public policy applications. For example, most government agencies that distribute social welfare payments use some form of pre-paid debit card. Chatterjee’s research hints that these cards might be encouraging poor spending habits among recipients. The research could also have major consumer education implications by demonstrating that marketers – by constantly reinforcing the use of credit cards – may be affecting not just the amount of money consumers spend but also the types of goods and services that consumers buy. “Paying with credit cards may increase the likelihood of indulgent choices that are less healthy compared to cash,” Chatterjee said. “It’s also possible that consumers primed with credit cards may choose more attractive or high-image products among substitutes and may more frequently include brands strongly linked to benefits.” If this notion is correct, it will likely become more prevalent in the future as marketers increasingly use technologically advanced payment mechanisms that allow consumers to make payments without much deliberation. For example, many online merchants allow the option of automatically debiting one’s account without having to fill in the details of the purchase. “This arrangement, ostensibly for consumers’ convenience, seems to offer an even more powerful disconnection of spending from payment,” Chatterjee said. “Once an account has been created, purchases could be made with no reference to payment mechanism at all. While convenient, these mechanisms do not encourage consumers to deliberate over their spending.” So are credit card-carrying consumers doomed to make indulgent, reckless decisions? Not exactly, Chatterjee said, though it might be helpful to “reintroduce some pain” at the point of purchase. “If we can somehow put that pain back in, we could perhaps retain the convenience of plastic, but at the same time help consumers make more informed decisions,” he said. “Perhaps a simple reminder at the point of sale – like an image of cash, or a reminder of a bank account balance – could tip the scales back in consumers’ favor. For now, the take-home message for consumers is to be careful when paying with credit cards.” ■
P RO FE SSIONA L SPOTLIGHT Sally Zogry Executive Director, Downtown Lawrence Inc.
What is your organization’s most important commodity or service? Our mission is to preserve, protect, and promote Downtown Lawrence as the retail, service and professional, governmental, entertainment and social center of our community. What is your organization’s most important priority? To promote the interests of the Downtown business district and to enhance Lawrence’s overall appeal and importance in the state and the region as a shopping, dining, entertainment and community destination. What has been some of the most important aspects of your success? We have maintained and enhanced our Downtown over the past 40 plus years since the founding of DLI. Many Downtown districts in the region have disappeared or are no longer the vibrant hub of commercial and community activity and that they once were. Downtown Lawrence is thriving, vibrant, dynamic and relevant. How many people does your business employ? Or in your case, how many people do you interact with on a daily basis and are responsible to? This is a one-person organization and I serve a board of 7 Downtown business owners from a variety of business sectors. Of course, I interact with member and non-member business owners, city staff, media reps, Downtown customers, people in the hospitality and tourism industries and community members on a daily basis.
How do you and your organization make a positive impact on the Lawrence community? We work hard to make sure that Downtown is thriving and vibrant. I bring events of all sorts Downtown – both as planner/coordinator and as a liaison for other event planners and companies. I work with current Downtown business owners to market and promote their businesses and to increase their revenue and I offer opportunities and venues for businesses owners to meet and work with each other. I work with prospective business owners who are interested in locating Downtown and am always on the lookout for businesses that would add to our overall appeal and the goods and services that we can offer to the public. DLI also contributes to Downtown beautification and coordinates that with the City in terms of seasonal plantings, holiday decorations, and of course our beautiful holiday lights that just went up. We also pay for additional maintenance and cleaning via our employment of a JobLink client who cleans Downtown sidewalks twice a week. Our job is to ensure that Downtown Lawrence remains an appealing and attractive place to live, work, shop, dine, and be entertained. What is do you see as your personal responsibility and your organization’s responsibility to the community? Both DLI and I have the same responsibility – to make sure that our Downtown district is the best it can be. Downtown serves as our public square; it is an important community gathering place that has stood the test of time, the vagaries of many economic cycles, and has even withstood multiple incursions from enemy forces! We want to make sure that the businesses and the business district are here for another 150 plus years and that we remain an important destination and aspect of the quality of life in Lawrence. What would you change about doing business in Lawrence? I don’t know that there is much I personally would change. I think that Lawrence is a good place to do business and there is always the potential for more collaborative efforts to increase traffic and revenue Downtown as well as across the city. As an organization in the ever changing business/downtown/ retail/entertainment area how do you remain relevant? And how has your business changed over the years to remain relevant? I think that DLI has always provided a great service to its member businesses as well as the city as a whole. One of the best reasons for an independent business owner to join DLI is that we provide a unified voice for lobbying with the city and county on myriad
issues, from economic development to infrastructure, construction and zoning. Because we are a unified group we are included in the conversations that occur about these issues and are kept informed so that we can be proactive rather than reactive. A large part of my job is communicating to members, helping them with marketing and advertising opportunities for their individual businesses, and promoting Downtown Lawrence as a whole as a destination for living, working, and entertainment, whether that is shopping, dining, live music, theater, the arts, etc. Social media, email, and the internet in general has changed our ability to promote and market on an individual and group level and to reach out to potential visitors from beyond Lawrence. Bringing events of different sorts – retail and dining events, parades, sporting events, musical events, fundraisers, Final Fridays – is a key aspect of that promotion. I work consistently to create opportunities that the public can participate in and enjoy that will also benefit my members’ businesses. I am finding that is how to stay relevant – I have to provide a steady stream of ideas and information and then package that in a way that appeals to both the potential customer and the merchant. It’s quite a challenge, but it keeps my creative juices flowing and keeps my skills current in terms of marketing on many levels. It’s a far cry from my first job in an advertising agency in New York City almost 25 years ago. Then the options were print, radio, and television. We have so many more outlets and opportunities now and I do feel that I am helping DLI members take advantage of those. How do you manage your day-to-day stress of business? I sigh a lot! Seriously, I do. I also drink a lot of coffee. I don’t take things personally (or at least try my best not to). I remind myself on a daily basis that there are at least 150 different opinions Downtown and they are all right I am not an owner who is taking the risk of opening and operating a business 365 days a year, paying employees, a mortgage, etc. They are taking the risk so they are entitled to their opinions. All I can do is try to support and enhance what they are doing to the best of my ability. But I am a very high energy and upbeat person and I thrive in this atmosphere. I absolutely love the variety and the challenges that I face every day. I just produced the Holiday Lighting Ceremony and Santa Rescue for the first time and that was a thrill. It is not the largest event I have produced, although it is fairly large, but it is challenging because there are so many different aspects to coordinate with the City, police, fire and medical, entertainers, sound and lights, you name it. And then you have to expect the unexpected – the fire truck takes longer than you thought and you end up singing “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” in front of 2000 people to get a sing along going. Is it stressful? Yes! But I feel fortunate that this is the type of stress I face – mostly it’s the kind
of stress that I can handle pretty well because I am suited to it. I am supremely lucky to have a job that fits my skills, personality and likes so well. What is the biggest challenge you feel your organization faces? I would say one major challenge is trying to ensure and maintain a good ratio of different business sectors. It’s important to have variety – a few chains alongside a healthy number of local, independent stores offering a variety of goods, a mix of different types of restaurants, entertainment venues, the Arts Center, the Library, hotels and residential properties, professional and personal services – all of these are essential to maintaining a vibrant and dynamic Downtown district. It’s also important to increase our 24 hour cycle. Downtown is a major asset to the City in its ability to recruit major employers as well as to KU’s ability to recruit top faculty and staff candidates and we know that. But we can’t rest on our laurels. We are always striving to make Downtown the best place it can be. Over the course of working in various Lawrence businesses, what has been the single largest change in the Lawrence business environment? Our Downtown and doing business here has not necessarily changed all that much since I moved here in 2003; if anything it has continued to improve and remains a dynamic reflection of our community. Storefronts are full, new businesses are locating here, and there is a demand for more residential opportunities as well. There have been some changes in the overall business landscape in Lawrence with some of the large manufacturing companies either downsizing or closing some facilities. However, we have also seen the growth of many new medium-sized and small businesses in a variety of industries. Times change, but we feel that we keep the vibrant, entrepreneurial spirit alive here; we actively welcome it. Downtown is the heart of the city and we are home to many entrepreneurs, whether they have been in business for four months or 40 plus years. What do you foresee as being the biggest challenge to downtown? And how are you addressing or preparing for it? Our long term focus is to keep Downtown Lawrence the heart of the city. To address that we are continually promoting Downtown as a destination for a one of a kind experience. That includes everything from regional events like the Sidewalk Sale or Old Fashioned Christmas parade to community-wide events like the Holiday Lighting Ceremony, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, KU Homecoming Parade and Zombie Walk. We try to provide a variety of activities – shopping events, fundraising events, arts events, Final Fridays, etc. – as well as simply providing a great place for the community to gather, meet up with friends and neighbors and enjoy themselves. ■
Designing a Vision City of Lawrence’s design standards for commercial and industrial buildings in place to maintain quality of new and remodeled developments By Megan Gilliland, communications manager, City of Lawrence
by MEGAN GILLILAND, COMMUNITATION MANAGER CITY OF LAWRENCE
Lawrence is known for its history and sites. Just think about Allen Fieldhouse, Liberty Hall and the historic Douglas County Courthouse to name a few. In order to keep Lawrence’s public areas at a standard the community has consistently ranked as top-quality, the city works diligently with developers to adhere to design standards which guide the aesthetic and architectural feel of buildings in Lawrence.
The City of Lawrence has developed a Community Design Manual that contains set design standards for commercial (retail) and industrial buildings. Commercial design standards apply in any district zoned for commercial use. At some point in the future, residential design standards may be developed. Downtown Lawrence has a separate set of guidelines. The design guidelines apply for all new construction and are applicable for remodels, depending on the scope of the remodel. “The City of Lawrence created design standards and guidelines that offer a vision for commercial design,” Amy Miller, Assistant Director of the Planning and Development Department at the City of Lawrence, said. “This is an approach that can be beneficial both to developers and to the community.” There are certain principles that guide the design standards for Lawrence: Improve the overall quality and promote well-designed projects; ensure compatibility with surrounding neighborhoods; enhance pedestrian safety and walkability; and improve userfriendliness and predictability in the design review process. During the application process, the Planning and Development Staff review several elements to determine if the project meets the guidelines set forth in the Community Design Manual. These elements include site planning, storm water and site drainage, streetscape and neighborhood transitions, vehicular access and parking areas, pedestrian access and amenities, outdoor storage, sales and service areas, landscaping, screening and walls, and lighting and security.
“It isn’t unusual for cities to create standards for design,” Miller said. “In fact, we hear from national retailers that standards are common. Retailers also want to provide a quality product that is a good representation of their company to the local community. Every commercial development goes through a site planning process. During site planning, we look at every development to see how the building is oriented on the site, the compatibility with surrounding areas, natural features of the site and whether or not existing vegetation is used as part of the landscaping.” The Planning Department looks at building orientation as a key consideration to make sure that developments are woven into the physical fabric of the community and surrounding neighborhoods by recommending that building placement and orientation provide compatible transitioning techniques to minimize adverse impacts such as noise, odor, light and glare. “Building orientation is a key goal,” Miller said. “We want parking to be in the rear of the site which helps to create a pedestrian friendly way. Additionally, we want to see developments that have four-sided architecture, not just a façade that has traditional architectural elements.”
An example of a development that worked very hard to create a pedestrian-friendly area was the CVS on 23rd and Iowa Street. Pedestrian access is a very important part of the planning process. Developments should include clear ways for people to walk storeto-store easily and safely. Other key elements include landscaping and building architecture. “We encourage the use of native materials in site drainage and storm water retention/detention,” Miller said. “We want to see lowmaintenance plants that use less water.” For building architecture, a percentage of the façade of a building must use native building materials including stone or masonry. There should be some articulation of the design on the building too – use of windows, varying elevations, etc.
the materials used and consider what will last longer and bring value to the Lawrence community.” When planning a development or a remodel, the business community is encouraged to talk to the city’s planning staff at the very beginning of the process. “Contact us at (785) 832-3150 to talk to our planning staff about specific requirements and how we can assist through the development process,” Miller said. ■ The city’s Community Design Manual is available online: http://www.lawrenceks.org/assets/pds/planning/documents/ CommunityDesignMan.pdf.
“The goal of articulation is to create visual interest in the building,” Miller said. “We don’t specify colors to be used but we do look at
“The goal of articulation is to create visual interest in the building.” -Amy Miller
by DAISY WAKEFIELD photos by STEVEN HERTZOG
Pet World Owner, Sherry Emerson According to a 2012 American Pet Products Association Survey, 68 percent of all U.S. households now include pets. The national aﬃnity for pet ownership has translated into a massive industry, with an estimated $55 billion spent in 2013 on pet related expenses. Seemingly immune to fluctuations in the economy, numbers in the pet industry have been steadily climbing, averaging an 11% yearly growth rate over the past 20 years. The trends of the pet industry have shifted both in terminology and in attitude, from pet ownership to pet parenting. The industry still revolves around the hubs of pet expenditures such as food, supplies, veterinary visits and grooming. But other branches of the industry have developed and are growing by leaps — pet insurance, pet sitting and walking services, pet supplements, pet boutiques and pet burial and cremation. “A lot of people have chosen to wait to have kids or to have a career instead of children, and they have a dog,” Liz Devin, owner of Christal K9 explains. “Or a lot of nontraditional couples are choosing to have a dog. People are taking care of their pets in a very different way from 20 years ago — it used to be that dogs were chained up outside and seen as a possession. Now, they are more like members of the family.” And as members of the family, pets are commanding everything from a place on the family bed to day care options. Christal K9 is a grooming, boarding and training business that caters to working PawshWash Owner, Amber Nickel
pet parents who want a day care for Fido during the day, rather than a lonely shut-in house. Devin refers to this part of the business as “play care” - a stimulating, socially interactive environment for pets while their people are unavailable. Sending animals to day care may seem a bit on the outlandish end, but Devin says that many dogs are high energy and being locked up in a room or house during the day is just asking for chewed up couches and other trouble. The cost of day care can off the cost of a wrecked house and frustrated pet parents. The pet food market has exploded within pet retail, overtaking veterinary costs as the top pet related expenditure, with recent trends toward natural, organic and holistic pet foods. A far cry in nutrition and price point from the dry kibble of yesterday, these
foods are marketed as specifically formulated for pet needs. As with human food, they range in how they appeal to consumers, from including extra vitamins and minerals such as omega-3’s and antioxidants, to eschewing chemical processing and fillers, to being free of pesticides, growth hormones and genetic modification, to being eco-friendly and focusing on a pet’s mind and body balance. Commercially processed raw pet foods have also been recently introduced to the pet food retail scene. These foods emphasize raw meat, bones, fruits and vegetables, and have been frozen or freeze-dried for consumer distribution. Proponents of raw pet foods say that their pets exhibit shinier coats, healthier skin, cleaner teeth, and higher energy levels. Critics say that the raw foods present possible risk of salmonella to humans and pets and can tilt toward an unbalanced pet diet. “Pets that have better quality food are healthier, have better and shinier coats, and don’t have to go to the vet as much,” explains Amber Nickel, owner of Pawsh Wash. “The origin of dog food is that it was made with waste and byproducts of human food, with some fat thrown on it. But dogs, like any living thing, need variety and freshness. That’s where the trend is now not just scraps off of the floor of Nabisco. We’re making foods with their health in mind.”
Opened in 2005, Pawsh Wash offers supplies, full -service grooming and self-service wash. Nickel says that the recession years were tough, but even so, the store has seen a 30-40% growth rate every year and currently employs 20 people. The business has also expanded to a second location, Pawsh Pet Health Market, retailing natural pet foods and supplies. “I think what turned the pet industry was when we let animals inside our homes,” Nickel says. “They are no longer backyard ornaments. Once you bring them in the home, you see the benefits of that relationship, and now we’re willing to invest more and take care of them.” Veterinary care is the second highest expenditure in pet retail. There are at least a dozen veterinary clinics in Lawrence, which works out to one clinic every 2.5 square miles. With costs of a vet visit anywhere from $50 on up, this is the one expenditure that varies wildly depending on a pet owner’s financial situation. But pet owners who have the means tend to spend what they need to in order to give their animal a better or longer life, even if that means thousands of dollars on chemo treatments or ACL replacements. Ruby Haefner with Ferret
“Lawrence is an educated, well-mannered town, and people come in asking educated questions that I never encountered when I worked in Kansas City,” Christine Newman, Veterinarian Technician at Gentle Care Animal Clinic, said. “People here are willing to do $300 surgery on a gerbil or a backyard chicken because they see it as a part of the family.” But Newman says that vet practices have not been immune to the recession, and during tight times, people will turn to diagnosing their pets themselves through Google or Pet WebMD. However, as the economy has shifted, vet clinics are seeing more patients than in the past few years. Gentle Care Animal Clinic sees about 15 to 30 patients a day and has recently purchased a much larger building to accommodate the increase in business. The anchor of pet supplies and purchases in Lawrence, Pet World, has been around since the 70’s and was purchased by its current owners, Tim and Sherry Emerson, in 1988. The shop has live animals for display and cuddling, giant tortoises for daily feeding, along with squawky birds, insect and rodent feeders, and all manner of fish and reptiles. The shop is a district-level partner with USD 497, aiding in curriculum study of animals and habitats at all levels. “After 9/11, everyone zipped up their purses,” Sherry Emerson notes. “But then we noticed a resurgence of people having pets. I think that 9/11 drove people back home, with their kids and their pets, and we saw a strong rebound. People stopped with the frivolous throwing money and started staying home a bit more.” Emerson says the experience of going to the pet store has helped her business maintain solid numbers, despite competition from box stores and online marketers. “We’re reasonably insulated from those effects because our customers come for the staff. You can’t get that online. Also we have such a strong community presence, and our prices across the board are better than online with shipping.” ■
Gentle Care Clinic-Dr. D Rausch
Pet Retail in Lawrence: $10,000 Highest sale ever at Pet World of a rare snake $48 Dog vet visit at Gentle Care Animal Clinic $13-20 Self-service pet wash at Pawsh Wash $64.94 Orjen brand, 28.5 lb. bag adult dog food $20 Per day play care at Christal K9 $.12 One feeder cricket at Pet World 65000 Feeder Crickets Pet World uses and sells weekly
by EMILY MULLIGAN photos by STEVEN HERTZOG
Kizer Cummings Jewelers, Owner, Ernie Cummings
Plenty of big issues and changes face local residents these days. From higher education funding in the state to new developments to the east (VenturePark), west (Rock Chalk Park) and downtown (9th and New Hampshire), why should anyone care about retail in Lawrence? “Retail is one of the pieces of the puzzle that makes a community,” Ernie Cummings, owner of Kizer Cummings Jewelers, said. “People have needs, and retail gives them. The sales tax helps make the government work, and retail adds to the quality of life. If you have retail that is good, with competitively priced merchandise, and people can make the best decisions for their money, then you have a better life in your community.” Allison Moore, Senior Vice President for Collier’s International, a commercial real estate firm, says that economic developers in Lawrence in particular have learned from the turbulent economy and are working to improve the community in many ways. “The city recognized, from the downturn we recently had, that revenue comes in all shapes, sizes and forms,” Moore said. “They had been focusing on primary jobs, and now the city is realizing that income tax drivers that provide a sales tax base are just as important to economic development.”
Retail challenges in Lawrence Now that the economy possibly has turned for the better, local retail experts agree that there are two challenges facing Lawrence retailers. One challenge is universal: the internet; and the other is unique to Lawrence: keeping shoppers in town instead of Kansas City or Topeka. It has been more than a decade since it became evident that the internet would forever change shopping and retail. Internet behemoth general merchandiser Amazon.com is but one website that competes with all of the local brick-and mortar options. Local retailers and experts are continually developing strategies to keep purchases local – after all, online purchases do not generate sales tax revenue. “Many local retailers have found a way to make the Internet work for them, such as Jim Bateman at Yarn Barn, who does a large mailorder business in the back half of his store,” Sally Zogry, director of Downtown Lawrence, Inc., said. Francis Sporting Goods has just begun to develop its online business in the past 2 years, said owner John Francis, and “people all across the U.S. are ordering from us.” Although online shopping has its advantages, local retailers say that time already has shown us that it will not supplant brick-andmortar stores altogether. “If you can’t pick it up, touch it, see it and see what size it is, it’s just not the same. People will go online and look, then go to the store to
compare,” said Doug Brown, commercial realtor with McGrew Real Estate. Cummings said that his customers often rely on the Kizer Cummings staff to help them sift through all of their options. “The internet drives an amazing amount of information, and customers are so informed anymore. We have to distill it and work through it and personalize it for them,” Cummings said. Many local retailers have chosen to fight fire with fire – or technology with technology. “We use Twitter, Facebook and e-mail, and it’s big for us; we get results,” said Sue Shea of the Phoenix Gallery. Downtown clothing store Fortuity recently revamped its website and offered online-only promotions to its Facebook friends, Twitter followers and even in-store shoppers, with the goal of directing more traffic to both Fortuity’s expanded web presence and its brick-andmortar store. Leaving Lawrence to Shop While the online shoppers continue to pose a threat to local stores, there is one other technology that Lawrence retailers must compete with: the car. With the continued development of newer retail locations such as the Legends in Kansas City, KS, more and more residents are hopping on the turnpike and heading to Kansas City and Topeka to do their shopping. And since many residents work out of town to begin with,
it is difficult to keep people shopping where they live. “I think we’ve lost so much to the Legends over the last six to eight years. You don’t have to go to Overland Park anymore – they can drive 15 minutes and have all this retail at their feet. If we can grab some of that back, it would be tremendous,” Brown said. Many residents have raised an outcry about the “big box” development on South Iowa Street in the past decade hurting local retail, but, on the contrary, those stores are as vital – if not more so – to keeping shopping dollars local. If Lawrence didn’t have big box stores like Best Buy, Home Depot and Kohl’s, local residents would drive elsewhere to find them. “We need to have those opportunities here so our residents are spending their money in our marketplace instead of somewhere else,” Moore said. “I maintain that keeping every dollar spent here that we can is a good thing.” “I don’t believe The Chamber of Commerce and the city have been tracking Lawrence’s retail “leakage” for decades, and local experts say it comes back to giving residents the options they want – from the big box to the specialty retailer.
Zogry said that downtown business owners are plugged in to events happening in town year-round, noting that even if people aren’t shopping that day, the event brings valuable feet and eyes to their stores. “Downtown is a constant evolution,” Cummings said. “It creates businesses that you can’t really duplicate anywhere else. We need to also find retail that is interesting enough that we can draw people here to shop.” Downtown will be changing even more in the next couple of years, with the new hotel development being built at 9th and New Hampshire, in addition to the new housing and retail space that opened at the same intersection in 2011. Other potential plans call for redevelopment at 11th and Mass.
downtown draws only from Lawrence, but it draws people from everywhere, wherever they go in Lawrence, they end up downtown. There are vibrant downtowns in other places, but you won’t find a better mix than here.”
“The reason people are going other places to shop: first, it’s natural to think other places are better, and second, they think they’ll have more selection,” Cummings said. “To compete, you just have to do the best job you can and be really aware of what your customers want.” Brown closed the deal that brought Target to Lawrence in 1994. At the time, he said, many in town were asking why Lawrence needed the store. It was a “category killer,” meaning that it had merchandise that competed with many categories of stores Lawrence already had, such as clothing and hardware. “It happened, Target came here, and the sky didn’t fall. We survived,” Brown said. “From that, now you have a whole area south of 31st Street that has become attractive to retailers.” Downtown Although the shopping on South Iowa Street appeals to residents and retailers alike, all the local retail experts agree that downtown is what makes Lawrence, well, Lawrence. “I don’t believe downtown draws only from Lawrence, but it draws people from everywhere,” Shea said. “Wherever they go in Lawrence, they end up downtown. There are vibrant downtowns in other places, but you won’t find a better mix than here.”
- Sue Shea
“The city is walking the walk of maintaining downtown, making large commitments to downtown’s success, with the library upgrade, and new hotel and multiuse space,” Moore said. “It has increased to a 24/7 place down there. Let’s don’t be afraid that we’re going to become a bar district – that always balances itself out. If you make it a good place to do business, that will lead to diversity.”
However, the appeal of downtown can be a double-edged sword to regional and national retailers looking to locate in Lawrence. “I recently made a deal on space in downtown Lawrence. The tenant was surprised to find this nice of space available in downtown, so they felt lucky,” Brown said. “On the flip side, if there hadn’t been space, that tenant may have gotten frustrated and given up on Lawrence.” Retail Development From Here on Out Brown said that there wasn’t a way to create the Mass Street. corridor in any other place in town. So that is why retailers have looked to South Iowa Street – and to other locations that planners had not previously considered for retail. “It has been a perception that if we say ‘no’ to one retailer in one area, they will naturally want to be somewhere else in town. You don’t tell retailers where they want to go: retailers tell you,” Brown said. Moore agrees that retail development from now on may not be able to be as closely controlled by city planners as the Horizon 2020 has dictated up to now. She says that Lawrence needs more highly visible retail sites in a prime retail corridor. There are no spaces available on South Iowa Street – the only spaces are the buildings
in front of Best Buy and Home Depot that lack visibility and, hence, traffic. “Retailers only want to be in a proven viable location,” Moore said. “That could mean an infill project, looking at sites that could be developed, or zoned industrial that’s vacant. We need to listen to the possibilities. We’re the experts of Lawrence, but the retailers are the experts of how developments become successful.”
potential for some new types of retailers on the horizon. “Lawrence will probably see a club membership store, like Sam’s or Costco, in the future. We have been a target for that for a while, but it hasn’t been the right time,” he said. Lawrence also will see the continued expansion of discount stores of certain categories – such as Ross Dress for Less for clothing, which opened last year near another discount store, Famous Footwear. “Because of the economic downturn, those discount players thrived with their reputation for providing value. We now are going to see more of those players here, possibly coming together all at once,” he said. Brown thinks there will be more national retailers of all kinds, including expanding some of the categories Lawrence does have. The Merc and Natural Grocers are both considered health food stores, but Brown says they might not be enough to keep others from entering the market. “That health-food store trend is going to continue – I don’t see that going away anytime soon,” he said.
Clinton & Kavia Lassen, Loyal customers from Sonoma California with Ernie Cummings Moore and Brown both point to the recent Menards controversy as an illustration of a retailer wanting to be in a certain location where the city had not planned to develop retail. The Menards will be built on 31st Street, near Home Depot, on a site that was previously a mobile home park. “We need to have community leaders be more open-minded on the front end of the conversation [with developers] to see if those things are a good fit for us,” Moore said. “We have to be nimble enough to change based on demand and the culture, and keep the big picture of what’s good for the community.” Brown said that just because the city is developing places like Rock Chalk Park and VenturePark, which have main uses other than retail, doesn’t mean that retailers will be lining up at the opportunity to be near those locations. “National retailers don’t like to be pioneers,” Moore said. “If it’s their first time in Lawrence, they like to know several people coming with them, other retailers. That’s why South Iowa is so popular: You don’t want to go to a party and nobody’s there; you want to have a good time with people like you.” Coming Soon? Why does Lawrence need even more retail space? The city does not yet have every category of retail that it could, Brown said. Beginning with Dick’s Sporting Goods, which will be the first big box in its category when it comes next year, Brown sees the
If all retailers – local, national and regional – in Lawrence can begin find answers to the challenges of the internet and the out-oftown shoppers, which many feel like they have begun to do, then the future of retail of Lawrence has no limits. ■
by DAISY WAKEFIELD photos by STEVEN HERTZOG
A colloquialism for independently owned stores, Mom and Pop shops are becoming a rare breed in the American marketplace. Even rarer are such stores actually owned by a “Mom” and a “Pop” — couples who have banded together for in sickness and an health, for better or for worse, at home and in business. In Lawrence, husband and wife owned stores are still thriving thanks to community-driven customers Made on Mass, Matt and Jennifer Richards It’s a different scene from their former lives as a business lawyer and an accountant, but Matt and Jennifer Richards seem to love it. Their Made on Mass shop features handmade products sourced from artists and craftsmen in the US, with about 40% from close regional sources. From soy candles to baby clothes to home decor, the items in Made on Mass form a shrine that has become “Etsy in a store.”
Made on Mass Owners, Matt & Jennifer Richards
Jennifer was already a handmade goods purveyor when she had the idea to put an entire store together of unique handmade goods. Matt jumped in, and they sourced their first batches of inventory from Etsy vendors that Jennifer had previously purchased from, as well as local
artisans and craft store artists. With little retail experience, the Richards just learned as they went. Now that it’s been on the block for two and a half years, the shop is doing well. “I don’t know what it’s due to — being here for that amount of time, or people knowing about us more, or a combination of those factors, but we’re going strong. And, we’re just better at it then when we first started,” Matt said. Matt runs the daily operations, while Jennifer acts as the creative director and buyer. The community has responded to the feel of the shop, with wordof-mouth and repeat customers fueling the business. “We cater to the ideal that what you buy here is not what you can buy anywhere else,” Jennifer said. “When you get something here, it’s not stuff you can get from big box. Our items are a little more unique.” Pearson’s Collision Repair, Mike and Debbie Pearson Mike Pearson bought his first fixer upper sports car when he was seventeen. As he set out to learn how to fix it and embark on a lifelong career there were no trade manuals or even technical schools for auto body repair. Learning was done the old school way — by watching other people do it.
Mike absorbed what he could about auto body repair, and even lived in an auto body shop for a brief period, pulling his van in at night and eating lonely ham sandwiches. Presumably, Mike’s shelter and diet improved after he met and married wife Debbie, a Lawrence native. Shortly after marriage, Mike and Debbie opened their first collision repair shop in 1981 in North Lawrence, and ten years later, moved to their current location at 7th and Connecticut.
Cindy Simple Life Owners, Tom Luxem
“I married him for a reason,” Debbie says. “I want to be with him. What better way to do that than spending our days together. Of course, like any other co-workers, we have our conflicts. But we have our coping mechanisms — humor is always a good thing.” Cindy’s Simple Life, Tom and Cindy Luxem Tom and Cindy Luxem’s life has been a bit like the shop they now own — a mix of fun and functional, quirky and amusing things that are interesting and just a bit off center. Tom has done retail, book selling and music. Cindy has started retail Juice Stops, led nonprofit organizations, and done her own bit of music too. This mishmash of experience led them to opening Cindy’s Simple Life in May of this year. The shop is like a modern five-anddime, with a lot of things you didn’t know you needed. Their label for it - an urban general store — was inspired from a New York based store with the same character. Ninja-shaped cookie cutters, wacky cards and stationery, denture-shaped ice cube trays, cat butt flavored gum — it’s the store for the sassy and funky consumer. “We’ve been lucky in our life — our lifestyle has been such that we’ve spent a lot of time together from the first day that we were married — we didn’t go off on two different career tracks and come together only at night,” Cindy said.
Cottin’s Hardware, Tom & Linda Cottin
Apple Tree Homes, Greg and Carol Rau The original founding Mom and Pop of Apple Tree Homes had a good system. He was the licensed homebuilder that priced projects, oversaw field operations, and knew the inside and outside of home building and renovation. She was the office manager that kept the books, made the clients feel at ease, and ensured a smooth running operation. When Greg and Carol Rau purchased the business more than six years ago, they stepped seamlessly into the already formed roles and responsibilities. “That’s an advantage for us in operating a business together — how we’ve set it up and that we have separate responsibilities,” Carol said. “I respect the fact that he has the experience in building, and he respects the way I manage the office.” Apple Tree Homes does custom homebuilding and renovations, projects that are deeply personal and can stretch out to be almost a yearlong. When Greg and Carol meet with clients, many of
them are families or a married couple. “It’s a personal thing,” Greg said. “We develop a relationship with the clients in the course of building a home, and it helps when we relate to couples that we are a couple ourselves.” Cottin’s Hardware, Tom and Linda Cottin Tom and Linda Cottin come from hardware store stock. Both sides of families bought hardware stores in a small town in Michigan, and Tom’s family’s store is still in business. When Tom and Linda were looking to begin their own hardware legacy, they came to Lawrence to consider Zimmerman’s Coast-to-Coast Hardware Store. In March, 1992 they bought it and moved their family of six to Lawrence. Apple Tree Homes Owners, Greg and Carol Rau
Over twenty years, as local hardware stores have felt the impact of big-box stores and online retailing, Cottin’s has survived by strengthening its place as an icon in the community. But Linda says that the key to the survival of a family-owned business is the ability to adapt and make changes to satisfy the needs of the community and customers. Thus, the store was recently renovated to give it a more up -to-date appearance, and inventory was increased by 50%, which has brought positive responses from customers. “The way that we’re able to stay here is because of the community of Lawrence and their support and understanding of the value of having small family-owned businesses,” Linda said. “It’s not about money it’s about commitment to community.” ■
Pearson’s Collision Repair Owners, Mike and Debbie Pearson
Thank You 2013 Sponsors for helping us keep the tradition in Downtown Lawrence, Kansas LawrenceChristmasParade.org facebook.com/lawrencechristmasparade
Framewoods Gallery Aquila Paint Horse Ranch Steve & Patchen Electric & Industrial Chris Edmonds Supply Inc. Free State Doors Arnie's Peggy Johnson & Associates Grandstand Sportswear Best Western Prairie Elf Christmas Trees Jean, M Greene Bill Bradley Family Pro Print Hetrick Air Services Bradley Animal Hospital Rademacher Financial Holiday Inn Express CEK Insurance RD Johnson Excavating Co Jayhawk Dental, L.L.C. Checkers Red Lyon Tavern Jayhawk Spirit Saddle & Sirloin Club Clinton Marina, INC. Jimmy John’s of Kansas City Commerce Title Johnny's Tavern Salb Construction Corner Bank Kansas Secured Title - Lawrence Steve's Appliance Repair Cottin’s Hardware & Rental Marty & Patty Kennedy Stitch on Needlework DFC Company Kizer-Cummings Jewelers, Inc. The Etc. Shop DJ Fummerfelt, Insurance Laird Noller The Miles Family Douglas County Bank Landmark National Bank Tractor Supply Douglas County Trail Riders, Inc Lawrence Battery Treanor Architects Downtown Lawrence Inc. Meritrust U.S. Bank Elston Auction Co. Mid America Bank Weavers ES Lighting Minuteman Press Westheffer Family Fatsos O’Malley Beverage Winfield House, LLC First Management/ CNH LLC Orscheln Farm & Home Five Guys Burger & Fries Yarn Barn of Kansas. Inc
The Shelter, Inc., Serves At-Risk Youth In Douglas County
by DAISY WAKEFIELD photos by STEVEN HERTZOG
Most juveniles and their families who have encountered The Shelter, Inc., probably have mixed feelings about the organization — they wish they didn’t need their services but are very glad that they are available. The nonprofit serves a range of youth and families who have either encountered law enforcement or are at risk of doing so. Incorporated in 1981, The Shelter provides four distinct services to more than 1400 cases each year.
The Shelter’s Residential Program provides emergency residential care and longer-term residential care for children ages 10 through 18. This program was the inspiration for starting the agency. The community lacked emergency placement homes and places for kids who did not need to be incarcerated, but did need a temporary place to stay — such as kids in police protective custody. There were volunteer homes for these situations, but the need was outgrowing the supply, and kids were being shuttled to other communities in Kansas where there was a specific facility. The Shelter opened with its own facility that the city leased to them. This facility has been used for emergency shelter. Over time, a second facility was opened which houses kids who need longer term residential care. Each facility houses up to 14 kids.
Another service is Juvenile Intake, which provides 24-hour on-call assistance to law enforcement, crisis intervention for families and referral services for further assistance. The Shelter’s staff seeks to provide help to law enforcement with any juvenile cases. “Law enforcement is the first responder in cases like abuse and neglect, and they will do whatever legal things they need to do,” Judy Culley, Director of The Shelter, Inc., said. “But with juvenile cases, there are many complications. We do the social work and intervention part with law enforcement and the families, and help with whatever resources, placements, assessments that are necessary — whatever is going to help the case that isn’t a direct function of law enforcement.”
The Family Service Program provides family foster care services, including foster parent training and licensing preparation, placement coordination and on-going support. The Shelter is one of several local organizations that provide this service and currently has about 20 homes in Douglas County and surrounding areas that are available for foster placement. The Prevention & Diversion Program provides a number of services to keep at-risk kids from being involved with the court system, such as programs for first-time juvenile offenders who have committed a low-level crime. If the offender completes the Shelter’s Diversion Program, then the crime will not remain on the record and court costs are waived. “Many juvenile offenses are a low-level or first offense,” Culley said. “This program helps the kid and the court system. In the program, the kid is required to go to school, meet certain conditions, be monitored for drug or alcohol issues. We also refer them for therapy or for needed services. They attend classes that teach how to make good choices.” The Shelter also offers specialized case management for families whose kids are at risk of being involved with the court system because of factors like a difficult home situation, running away, or behavioral issues. The case management is a purely voluntary program. The Shelter has a budget of $2 million a year, funded through state and federal monies. The city and county each provide funds for programs within the Prevention & Diversion Program.
“I feel very fortunate to be in a community that the city and county have both supported efforts to do as much as we can for kids who need help, so that they don’t end up in the bigger state system,” Culley said. The Shelter also receives private donations and holds fundraisers. Their biggest fundraiser, the Festival of Trees, has become a local holiday tradition for many people. Celebrating its 27th year, the Festival receives donated trees and wreaths from local individuals and organizations for auction. About 80 trees and wreaths are trussed up in creative themes or glittery wonder, brought to Liberty Hall at the beginning of December and made available to a viewing public. They are auctioned off on the night of the Auction Party. Trees can bring in anywhere from a couple of hundred to a few thousand dollars. The fundraiser has netted a conservative estimate of $45k to $50k each year. The trees have become an embodiment of the creativity that resides in Lawrence. Culley remembers trees made from street light globes, trees made of basketballs, trees made of books. Some donors come back each year, outdoing themselves in their creations. While Culley says that she’s thrilled that the Festival has become such a community event and that it raises much needed funds for The Shelter, she’s more gratified that it raises awareness. “We’re happy to be known as the Tree People, and we’re happy for it to raise money. But we also want to raise awareness of the at-risk kids in the community.” ■
by ANNE BROCKHOFF photos by STEVEN HERTZOG
Art has a reputation for being exclusive, however, in Lawrence. It’s anything but. The city’s creative community embraces fine arts and functionality, established and experimental genres and spaces and public events of all types. But even with all that, it can be tough making a living by making art. There simply aren’t enough exhibition spaces or patrons, artists and gallery owners say, although that may be changing. New venues, Final Fridays and the creation of a Cultural District indicate renewed vigor. “I’m heartened, and I think there’s a good future for local art commerce in town,” says Meredith Moore, coowner of Wonder Fair: Art Gallery, Shoppe & Studio. “I don’t think it will follow the traditional form, and I don’t think we’ll have those high-roller collectors. We’ll have a tightly knit, supportive community of art collectors and art makers, which is more rewarding.”
Wonder Fair draws much of its support from Lawrence, although Moore also has clients from nearby Kansas City and Wichita and as faraway as New York and Los Angeles. Some come for gallery exhibitions, which feature emerging artists and often printmakers; others are drawn to the shoppe’s selection of useful, handcrafted pieces. But Wonder Fair does more than sell art. Moore’s mission also includes building excitement for new talent while helping those artists shape their careers. That might mean advising on pricing or framing, discussing Internet marketing or developing complimentary projects that improve salability without compromising integrity—whatever an artist might need. “We’re a resource where artists can learn to be more financially adept in the marketplace,” Moore says. “We show them they don’t have to be starving.”
Cider Galley Manager & artist, Clare Doveton
Lawrence Arts Center Exhibition Program Director and sculptor, Ben Ahlvers
Making art accessible to a wider audience is also important, and it’s a principle Wonder Fair shares with another downtown destination - the Phoenix Gallery. Gallery manager Sue Shea works with about 360 artists, filling the space with everything from pottery, textiles, wall hangings and sculptures to necklaces made from vintage rosaries, hand-blown glass vases and copper reliquary boxes. “Everything is handcrafted, unique, functional and affordable, with prices ranging from $8 to $1,200. Sometimes when people see a gallery, they think they can’t afford anything,” Shea says. “That’s not how we want to run this. We want to run this so there’s something for everyone.” Most artists work on consignment, and each object is photographed upon receipt so the gallery can provide artists with an exact inventory of sales. Shea and her staff also regularly coordinate commissions and special orders. Many buyers are local, but not all.
“We have customers on the East and West coasts and everywhere in between,” says Shea, who also promotes artists via Facebook, Twitter and email. “There’s a lot of back-and-forth, and we do all that.” The gallery added a more traditional exhibition space earlier this year when it opened the Phoenix Underground in its basement to showcase both two-dimensional works and larger sculptures. The gallery also shares downstairs space with Essential Goods, a retail shop selling handcrafted works by independent craftspeople. It’s not unusual to encounter an artist in any of these spaces, either by happenstance or during regular events such as Final Fridays, which many galleries credit with helping fuel enthusiasm for Lawrence art. Final Fridays began in 2010 as collaboration between the
Cider Gallery Fine Art 810 Pennsylvania St. cidergallery.com Essential Goods 825 Massachusetts St. www.facebook.com/EssentialGoodsLawrence Final Fridays finalfridayslawrence.wordpress.com Invisible Hand Gallery 810 Pennsylvania St. www.facebook.com/invisiblehandgallery Lawrence Arts Center 940 New Hampshire St. lawrenceartscenter.org Lawrence Arts Guild 512 E. 9th St. www.lawrenceartguild.org lawrencecreates.com Lawrence ArtWalk www.lawrenceartwalk.org
Local Artist, Elizabeth Rowley Lawrence Arts Center, Downtown Lawrence Inc., The Lawrence Arts Commission, artists, galleries and area businesses. More than 40 venues now open their doors the last Friday evening of every month with a now-familiar celebratory air. “It’s had great impact,” Shea says. “It’s been really good for artists, and it’s good for downtown. I can’t say enough good about it.” Final Fridays isn’t just about downtown, though. It also typically includes galleries and studios in other parts of Lawrence, including the Warehouse Arts District near Eighth and Pennsylvania streets. Despite the renovation of the Poehler Building, Cider Gallery Fine Art and other buildings, that area still doesn’t see a lot of foot traffic— something Clare Doveton anticipates changing as it develops. “I can’t wait until there are other businesses over here,” says Doveton, a
Lawrence Percolator In the alley between 9th and 10th Streets and New Hampshire and Rhode Island streets www.lcava.org Phoenix Gallery 825 Massachusetts phoenixgalleryks.com Seedco Studios 826 Pennsylvania St. www.seedcostudios.com Wonder Fair: Art Gallery, Shoppe & Studio 803 1/2 Massachusetts St. wonderfair.com
Phoenix Gallery Gallery, Manager Sue Shea Lawrence-based painter who manages the Cider Gallery, which is a sister business to Weinberger Fine Art in Kansas City. Fine art is at the core of the Cider Gallery, which also rents office space and is available for events. The art enhances the appeal of its other functions, while they, in turn, diversify the gallery’s revenue base. Such combinations aren’t unusual in the art world, where framing and other services often balance unpredictable sales cycles, Doveton says. There is some income from the secondary market (sales of pieces the gallery itself owns, like the Andy Warhol screen print near the door), but most comes from sales commissions on exhibited artwork. Fees vary among galleries, but 50 percent is typical throughout the business, Doveton says. “I always thought ‘dang it, they take 50 percent—what do (galleries) do?’” she says. “Being on the other side is an amazing experience. They earn every cent of it.” Galleries incur typical businesses expenses like overhead, labor and the like. But they also devote resources to cultivating relationships with individual patrons as well as museums, corporate collections, restaurants and designers.
They promote shows, both through traditional means and via social media, which interns (usually University of Kansas students) manage, organize studio visits, and host artist talks and other events. It’s all designed to bring creator and audience together, although even that doesn’t always result in sales. “Enthusiasts are sometimes stymied by the financial side of things,” Doveton says. They don’t know that prices are often negotiable (to a small extent), that many galleries offer payment plans or that art makes a sound financial asset. Doveton hopes to soon begin a collectors’ series that will clarify such issues and inspire both private and corporate investment. “It’s all about how we can help you own a piece of art,” she says. “We want it to work out for the artist, and we want it to work out for the customer. We want everyone to be happy.” Lawrence may be home to internationally known resources like the University of Kansas’ Spencer Museum of Art, but it in recent years has lacked sufficient exhibition space, artists say. That’s expected to change, thanks to initiatives like the creation of the Cultural District (bounded by 15th Street on the south, Kentucky Street on the west, the Kansas River on the north and Burroughs Creek Trail on the east). A final report on the district will be presented to the City Commission in December.
There’s also a growing range of eclectic, independent spaces like Invisible Hand Gallery, which is currently hosted by the Cider Gallery; Seedco Studios, a “creative factory/laboratory” with 17 resident artists in the brick warehouse next door; the Lawrence Percolator, a project space for the Lawrence Corporation for the Advancement of the Visual Arts located in the alley that runs from 9th to 10th streets between Rhode Island and New Hampshire; and The Lawrence Arts Guild, which runs the Lawrence Creates Makerspace Center for Innovation, Holiday Art Fair and Art in the Park. Pop-up galleries, restaurants, coﬀeehouses, music venues and other retailers round out the list. As diverse as all these spaces are, they underscore one certainty: exhibiting work is essential to an artist’s success. about getting work seen and generating sales, although both are important. Artists also develop contacts, boost their appeal to
other galleries and lay the groundwork for future opportunities by exhibiting. “It’s hugely important because (exhibiting) is your resume, and it’s about networking,” says Lawrence-based painter Elizabeth Rowley. Managing those relationships is crucial. Rowley cultivates connections with fellow artists, galleries, interior designers and others working in creative fields. She communicates with patrons by writing thank-you notes to buyers, updating her website and Facebook page and contacting them about upcoming shows, such as the Daughters of the Prairie invitational show that has toured Kansas and is now at the Southwind Gallery in Topeka. Rowley is also among the more than 20 area artists who open their studios for the annual Lawrence ArtWalk in October. It’s a unique opportunity to bring enthusiasts into an artist’s own environment, Rowley says.
Wonder Fair: Art Gallery, Shoppe & Studio Co-Owner, Meredith Moore
“People can see the process,” she says. “It’s very personal.” Making art personal is also integral to the Lawrence Arts Center’s mission. The center hosts more than 30 exhibits a year, oﬀering visitors a selection of solo and group shows and emerging and established artists working in an ever-varying mix of media, styles and price points. Artists typically present workshops and classes, lead discussions or interactive projects and otherwise enhance the LAC’s visual educational framework. A variety of artist residency programs allow artists to involve themselves more fully in the community. And the LAC’s first ArtShares program oﬀers a subscription service for locally produced works akin to the Community Supported Agriculture model.
The result is a hybridized environment that engages the surrounding community, builds enthusiasm and guides people their own artistic access point. “We’re not a commercial gallery, but we’re not a museum, either,” says Exhibition Pprogram Director and sculptor Ben Ahlvers. “I like that. It’s advantageous for us.” The art market in Lawrence is stronger than in years past, thanks to the combination of expanded exhibition space, robust public events and civic support. “I think it’s about to boom,” says the Cider Gallery’s Doveton. “Lawrence has always been the ‘City of Arts.’ That’s been the slogan. Now it seems like it actually is.” ■
by EMILY MULLIGAN photos by STEVEN HERTZOG
It is near impossible to find a retail outlet in Lawrence that doesn’t have some sort of KU memorabilia or sports-related items available for sale. Just as the University is part of the town, so is the KU sports culture part of the retail shopping experience.
“The number-one shopping experience for customers in Lawrence is going to be looking for KU merchandise. Game days are the biggest days, and it’s non-stop people from all over the country coming in,” Owens said.
KU memorabilia and sports retailers not only depend on the demand for KU-related purchases, but they also feel the effects of the KU athletes’ performances on the field.
Although, as Owens says, KU shirts and hats are available in stores throughout the city, many out-of-towners and fans seek out KU specialty shops like Jock’s Nitch for their selection. Aside from the KU Bookstore, Jock’s Nitch is one of the most established KU specialty shops for licensed merchandise in Lawrence, having been in the same downtown location since 1991.
“As goes KU, so goes Lawrence. If all those teams do well, it creates excitement and, in turn, a lot of income,” said commercial realtor Doug Brown. Those wins are especially lucrative for anyone who sells crimsonand-blue items. “All you have to do is look around town in gas stations, grocery stores, you name it. Everyone wants to put a Jayhawk on something and sell it,” said Ryan Owens, manager of Jock’s Nitch downtown. When KU basketball teams, in particular, do not have the best seasons, that has a direct effect on retailers. “If KU loses early, once they lose, the atmosphere of downtown changes,” said John Francis, owner of Francis Sporting Goods. “It takes people awhile to recover – there is not a lot of shopping to do after the end of the season. It’s like turning off a faucet.” KU Memorabilia Rarely do visitors come to Lawrence and leave without purchasing some type of KU memento.
If an item is licensed, that means the design incorporates marks or insignias owned by KU, such as the Jayhawk or the “KU” in Trajan font that is used as a logo. Licensees must pay a royalty fee to KU, usually 10 percent, on the wholesale price of each item. Jock’s Nitch is different than many retailers that sell licensed KU merchandise, because it does not buy exclusively from other vendors. “We pride ourselves that we’re licensed with KU, so we work with KU to develop our own designs and products that are only available in our store,” Owens said. “The market is always changing, but over the past several years, we’ve stayed consistent.” For more than a decade, Jock’s Nitch offered shoes and other sporting goods in addition to the KU merchandise, but then space became an issue, and they needed to make a choice. “Licensed goods have really exploded over the past 10 to 12 years, and our KU stuff started doing better and better, so we got rid of the shoes,” Owens said.
Jock’s Nitch does its printing in Lawrence and owns a print shop at its headquarters in Pittsburg, KS, so it works to keep local vendors as much as possible. “It’s important for us to stay local,” Owens said with a smile. “We went to KU, KU students work here, and we have regular customers around here. Everybody who walks in our store is a friend. If they’re wearing something from another Big 12 school, we let them know about it.” GameDay Super Store on 23rd Street is newer to the KU merchandise scene. The store, which also sells non-KU customizable recreational sports uniforms under the GTM brand name, opened in 2009. “As far as KU merchandise, we definitely have a big advantage because there are not a bunch of KU stores on 23rd Street.
People can have front row parking and pop in quickly,” said Kyra Dreiling, director of retail. “We manufacture our own products, so we cut out the middle man and provide a custom KU collection at a variety of price points that is only available at that location.” GameDay produces most of its products at its factory in Manhattan, KS, and also has a “brother” factory in Guatemala for its largest orders. “We are locally owned and independently operated, and customers appreciate that. We are not a big-box store,” Dreiling said. “We hire KU students and graduates.” KU sportswear designers are continually coming up with new looks for their shirts and hats. Owens and Dreiling highlighted a couple of trends ahead for their customers.
“For quite a few years, it was hoodie, hoodie, hoodie,” Owens said. “Now, it’s much more about ¼ zips and crew sweatshirts. Shirts are going baggier, to be paired with leggings or running tights. The old-school Jayhawk logos are really popular on everything.” Owens said the fabrics themselves were changing as well, going away from cotton and more toward blends that look vintage and feel softer. “A trend in sportswear and KU merchandise is the sublimated product: instead of printing or embroidering the logo, they are fusing the ink design into the fabric. It lasts longer – it’s not going to crinkle or crackle over time,” Dreiling said. Owens said the alternative uniforms that Adidas created for college basketball last year will be created again this year, which adidas also creates for fans. Dreiling said that neon pink, orange and yellow-colored KU gear will be back in the spring, as well. “We have a loyal and enthusiastic fan base; they’re the ones that drive this business,” said Paul Vander Tuig, trademark licensing director for KU Athletics. “The fans keep the licensed product train rolling by asking for what they want – and the retailers work hard to get it.” Sporting Goods Not only do KU athletes inspire shoppers to outfit themselves in KU clothing, but they also inspire kids and adults to participate in sports. “With Rock Chalk Park developing, I see the possibility for even more leagues and better, more organized activities for not only children but adults,” Brown said. “We could become an even more active place than we are.”
“Being in a college town helps us keep up-to-date. Most mom-andpop stores in our business are smaller and not as progressive as we are,” Francis said. “When you have a town that embraces sports as Lawrence does, that definitely helps us out.”
Even without Rock Chalk Park, sports activities for kids are rarely relegated to one season.
Francis says that Francis Sporting Goods is going to consolidate its team business, which offices in a warehouse away from downtown, into its downtown location in anticipation of the effects of Dick’s coming to town.
“More and more families are participating in sporting events all year ‘round. Now, they are doing two sports per season or doing both the school team and the club team. I don’t see that that’s going to be changing anytime soon,” said Dreiling of GameDay. More participation means more of a need to purchase uniforms, warm-ups, socks and gym bags – all of which are available at local sporting goods stores. Of course, to the dismay of local sporting goods stores, big-box store Dick’s Sporting Goods is slated to open in 2014 in the former Sears building at 28th and Iowa. So, the sporting goods marketplace will be expanding in line with Rock Chalk Park, as well. Francis Sporting Goods has been in business in Lawrence since 1947 and has a retail store downtown and a custom team apparel and equipment business.
“We’re not naïve; we know it’s going to affect us. We have to be realistic, but we have our niches and our core customers, so hopefully they’ll continue to shop local,” Francis said. Francis has developed a more interactive web presence in the past two years, and the downtown store staff fulfills those orders, which come from across the U.S. “We are strong with Adidas,” Francis said. Francis Sporting Goods used to carry KU merchandise, but decided to fill its space with sporting goods and equipment – exactly the opposite of what Jock’s Nitch has done. Although GTM Sportswear has been in the sportswear business for more than 20 years, it is a newer addition to the Lawrence sporting
Francis Sporting Goods Owner, John Francis
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goods scene. The store, which also houses KU specialty store, GameDay, specializes in custom embellishment on team uniforms and warm-ups. “Customers that are shopping at our Lawrence showroom will get to work with a rep who will work with them start to finish choosing products and creating the design, then following up with other options,” Dreiling said. Dreiling says that because GameDay and GTM share the space, their customers can purchase a KU shirt alongside their team uniform or a set of warm-ups alongside their fan gear. “Dick’s will be more a competitor for GameDay than GTM. Hopefully enough customers like shopping with the small businesses of the world and will continue to do so,” she said. GameDay Super Store has a website for those farther-away customers seeking KU gear, but Dreiling said that their focus was on the brickand-mortar presence in Lawrence and working for repeat customers. Both Francis and GTM say that their busiest time of year is backto-school time and the beginning of fall sports. Although they do see a spike in activity around the holidays and at the beginning of the summer, they spend most of the year preparing for August and September. No matter what the date on the calendar, these retailers are always tuned in during KU basketball season, hoping for wins well into March. “Business correlates directly with how well KU is doing in basketball. Final Fours and championships make our business for years,” Owens said. ■
Jock’s Nitch Downtown Manager, Ryan Owens
by DEREK HELMS photos by STEVEN HERTZOG
When the calendar turns to December, more than just the lights on the trees begin to sparkle. Cash registers come alive as shoppers search for the perfect gift for their loved ones. That perfect gift, more often than not, is for a child or niece or grandchild. Lawrence retailers specializing in children’s items are ready for the business. Few people know more about getting products into the hands of kids than Margaret Warner. First in Topeka, Warner has owned and operated toy stores for nearly 40 years. “There is nothing else I’d rather be doing,” Warner says convincingly. “I have the best job in the world.” Warner began working for The Toy Store in Topeka 38 years ago. She soon took over the operations and 16 years ago opened The Toy Store on Massachusetts Street in Lawrence. Warner has built the stores into two of the largest independently-owned specialty toy stores in the world. “We inspire creativity, individual thinking and community awareness through play and reading,” Warner says. “Our Toyologists help you choose the perfect toys. We offer a selection of quality
playthings and expert advice that only a local, family-owned business can provide.” Warner says the business of marketing toys really isn’t all that difficult. Her experience has shown her that providing a consistent, reliable selection of products is more effective than predicting the next trend in toys. Books, she says, are the top selling product at The Toy Store.
“We put a lot of pride in our book selection,” Warner says. “We work very hard to maintain our supply and selection. When someone comes in looking for a book, we do everything we can to make sure they leave with one.” Book sales have been so consistent that the store was able to dedicate the entire 3rd floor of their building to books. The newest floor opened at the end of November. Though books are the store’s top-selling product, Warner lists educational toys as a close second. “We really consider almost everything we sell to be educational,” Warner says. “We try to fill our store with sustainable, educational toys that will last. The quality of the products we offer is very important. We want the toys we sell to last.” Kris Bailey, owner of children’s boutique Blue Dandelion, has found her niche in the kids market by finding those unique items new moms need. “When my partners and I opened, we were primarily a furniture store,” Bailey says. “We
thought we would sell higher-end cribs and baby furniture. It didn’t take long to see that Lawrence didn’t have the market for that. We quickly started to concentrate on clothing and smaller items. At that time Baby Gap had just closed, so we knew there was an opening in the market.” Bailey has operated the boutique on Massachusetts Street for 8 years. At this point, she knows what products sell consistently and has a good idea of what new products her customers will buy. “Cloth diapers have always been a big seller for us,” she says. “We’re not the only place in town you can buy what you need to use cloth diapers, but I know we have the best selection and the highest quality product in town.”
The Toy Store Owner, Margaret Warner
Muslin swaddling blankets are also, with diapers, the shop’s biggest selling items. The soft blankets are made of breathable bamboo or cotton to prevent overheating and can be used in multiple ways. Bailey says the quantity of blankets sold is surprising.
Blue Dandelion, Kris Bailey “After a new mom gets one, they almost always come in and get more,” Bailey says. Both Bailey and Warner agree that December is their most busy time of the year, but neither says the holidays make or break their bottom line. “Sure we see a very nice increase in business in December,” Warner says. “But kids have birthdays all year long. They have parties all year long and read books all year long. We look forward to the 4th quarter, but we do well all year.” Bailey agrees, saying they do see an increase in business in December, but traffic is fairly consistent throughout the year. “People don’t just have babies in December,” Bailey says with a laugh. “And kids using cloth diapers don’t just poop in December.” Unlike the local boutique shops, Target banks on the 4th quarter to bring in the bucks. In fact, Target publishes annual kids’ catalog features more than 400 specially priced products for kids of all ages. “We continue to differentiate with kids’ gifts that can only be found at Target,” says Kristy Welker of Target Public Relations. “Whether it’s Target owned brands like Circo®
and Our Generation® or exclusive licensed products merchandise from brands like Disney and Transformers. Throughout the season, guests will find kids’ gifts on sale, beginning in earnest in early November when guests receive the catalog. There will be 23 coupons with promo codes in the kids’ November gift catalog and 18 coupons in the kids’ December gift catalog.” Welker says the 4th quarter is a huge time for Target, especially the toy department. “We do tremendous business during the holiday season,” she says. “We work very hard to meet our customers’ expectations and provide great customer support.” While Target deals in volumes beyond anything a locally owned shop can match, customer service is where the little guys can gain some points. “We try to make it an experience,” Warner says of shopping in The Toy Store. “We call our employees Toyologists and we mean it. They really know the toys and they can help you find that perfect gift for whomever you are shopping.” Lawanna Huslig-Hanks thinks that perfect gift doesn’t have to come shrink-wrapped in plastic. Her store, Doodlebugs, specialized in reselling gently used kids clothing and toys. The shop on Massachussetts Street has been open almost 18 months, and Huslig-Hanks has been surprised with the consistent success.
“Our sales have been very good,” Huslig-Hanks says. “We’ve been very happy with business each month we’ve been open.” Though Doodlebugs does experience waves of business throughout the year, Huslig-Hanks says the weather is biggest factor in traffic. “I’m always surprised by how much the weather affects sales,” she says. “Maybe it’s just me, but if I need something for my kids or my family, a little snow or the cold isn’t going to keep me from getting it. Poor weather is really something that can hurt a week of sales.” Doodlebug’s sales are split between clothes, toys and furniture, but the majority of profit is from clothes. Huslig-Hanks inspects every item brought into the shop and will only sell that which she approves. “We have high quality things here,” Huslig-Hanks says. “One of our biggest challenges is getting people past the barrier of buying used. Just because someone else once owned it, that doesn’t mean the quality still isn’t there. We sell some really nice things here. The benefit to buying used is in the price.” Lawrence businesses focused on kids are seeing steady sales throughout the year. By focusing on quality products and strong customer service, kid retailers are keeping customers in tow, forming bonds and growing along with local families they serve.
The idea of shopping as an experience has served Rod Smith of White Chocolate well. The quiet, calm Smith has owned the skateboard shop in Downtown Lawrence since 2005 (he also owns a shop in Hays, Kansas). He doesn’t try to compete with Wal-Mart and Target. He says he doesn’t have to. “I know the quality of our product is so much higher,” Smith says with his signature thoughtful tone. “Some of the brands we sell are available in those box stores, but I know our quality is as good as we can get. Also, we know what we are selling. We know why one board or shoe might serve you better than another.” Smith says the authenticity of getting a board or shoes or a t-shirt at his shop, as opposed to Wal-Mart, is a by-product of staying true to his business beliefs. “We don’t try to fool anyone and move as much product as possible,” Smith says. “We sell stuff we like to people who are interested in it. Kids seem to like what we are doing, and I think they tell their parents to get the gear here. Also, a lot of our business comes from parents that skate, buying things for their own kids. So if a parent shops here, we can get the kids to get into what we’re doing.” ■
BOOTH’S BOOMER PERSPECTIVE by HANK BOOTH photo by STEVEN HERTZOG
When it comes to retail shopping districts, just about everybody thinks ours here in Lawrence is pretty darn good. A recent Topeka Capital Journal poll said our downtown was the best in NE Kansas. It must have been hard for the Cap Journal Editors to print that one. Even a national publication gave us top marks for our downtown and all that it provides. Now we’re in the process of making it even better with major new projects that will provide apartments and townhomes right in the middle of everything. Calls are coming in regularly at the DLI office from people ready to sign contracts for living quarters, months before they are even ready to show. East Lawrence, Old West Lawrence and other nearby neighborhoods are looking much more attractive to local realtors. Just a few blocks from downtown, the Warehouse Arts District is being created out of the ashes of the old East Lawrence industrial district and it will be a sensational boon to the downtown. It started with the rebuilding of an old warehouse, the Poehler Building, into affordable apartments that were all leased during the first day they were displayed. Creative arts studios, built in an old popcorn packaging plant and entrepreneurial offices, cubicles and work stations are in strong demand at the renovated Cider Gallery which is also open for business as a site for parties, receptions and meetings. On the century-old stonewalls of that building, art creations of nationally known artists are on display. Hooked to all of that is the renovation of the Santa Fe Train Depot. Wrap it all up and the package is a downtown business district that is a natural draw for all ages, but Boomers really like the idea of living right in the middle of the action. It certainly isn’t the Massachusetts Street I grew up with, pedaling the old Schwinn bike from one end to the other, often stopping for a quick refreshing pause at one of the soda fountains at Round Corner Drugs at the north end at 8th and Mass (now Intorno Restaurant and Intorno means round corner, by the way), Raney’s Drugs in the middle, and Rankin’s Drug Store on the south end at 11th and Mass. Just thinking about the changes at those three locations gives a snapshot of the evolving market place that is downtown Lawrence. When I was a kid, nobody had a better toy department than Malott’s Hardware and I worked for Ruby and Dar Malott putting those toys together when I was a teenager. Guys went to Ober’s
(Boy Scout stuff upstairs), Lawrence Surplus for jeans where the owner Hal Keltz seemed to always have a partially smoked cigar stuck in the corner of his mouth, Campbell’s Men’s Wear and Whitenight’s. The ladies found their fashions at The Jay Shoppe, Terrells, and of course, Weaver’s. Shoe stores were plentiful, The Royal College Shoppe, (owner Bunny Black personally swept the sidewalk out front every morning), Gordon’s Shoe Store, Ober’s, Weaver’s (again), and Arensberg’s (still there). There are a few other of the old classics still around with Ernst and Son Hardware at the top of the list, and the son is still behind the counter. The old movie theaters where Saturday afternoon matinees cost a quarter now house other entertainment venues. The Jayhawk Theater is now Liberty Hall and back in my college days was the wonderful Red Dog where we saw Ike and Tina Turner, the Kingsmen (remember “Louie, Louie”?) and many other national acts and great local groups like the Fabulous Flippers. The Granada is still the Granada, but the movies have been replaced by bands of all kinds. Across the street was The Varsity and it’s now a clothing store. The balcony of the old Varsity was a great place to take a date as “necking” was ok. If a guy’s date said she only wanted to sit downstairs he knew he was out of luck. Downtown Lawrence has maintained a state of constant evolution and today is a classic mixture of retail shopping with specialty shops of all kinds, fine eateries with varied menus and late night bar stops for the younger generation. Add in the latest development of new housing and you can live a trip down the elevator and a short walk to anything you might want to sample. The “Boomers” are going to love it. The Final Friday’s art displays have been added to KU and Fine Arts events to bring visitors to town from all over the Midwest. When they get a firsthand look at what’s going on in downtown, they’ll want to stay and find a place to live. The future is bright for business throughout the city, but downtown will be a magnet. ■
New Year, New You! Resolve to be healthy in 2014
by Janice Early, MBA,Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Lawrence Memorial Hospital
Making New Year’s resolutions has become an American tradition. If you are like millions of Americans, one or more of your resolutions will pertain to your health. Lawrence Memorial Hospital oﬀers these suggestions to help make 2014 healthier and happier for you, your family and community.
Drink more water. We need water to flush out toxins, keep our tissues hydrated, and keep our energy up. Have a big glass of water before and after every meal. Also have one mid morning and one mid afternoon. Make a point to take a drink from every water fountain you pass.
See your health care provider for an annual physical and make sure your family gets routine health screenings. Immunizations, along with screenings for early detection or prevention of disease, can keep you healthy and improve your quality of life. Talk to your health care provider about the screenings that you and your family need. If you don’t have a primary care provider, check out the Provider Directory online at www.lmh.org.
Volunteer. LMH has many options for you to contribute your time and talents. Talk to us about your interests and time requirements and we will do our best to match you with an opportunity to make a difference. Visit www.lmh.org/volunteer-services for a listing of volunteer opportunities.
Learn the risk factors for heart disease, the leading cause of death for both men and women. Visit www.lmh.org/heart-risk to assess your risk for a heart attack and learn more about cardiac services at LMH. Enroll in a health improvement or education class. There are many opportunities in Lawrence. Check out the LMH programs at www.lmh.org and click Wellness Resources. Don’t do it alone. Find a friend, family member or co-worker with similar goals. Exercise together and share successes and failures. LMH’s Fit for Life program is a great way to get started. Call LMH Therapy Services at 785-505-2712 for more information. Become an organ/tissue donor. Give blood. Complete Advance Directives. Talk to your family and let them know how you feel about important health decisions. Keep a well-stocked first aid kit in your home and vehicle. Having an adequate supply of first aid supplies in easy reach will help you handle an emergency at a moment’s notice.
Lighten up — don’t take things so seriously. Stress can contribute to symptoms of illness. Taking even 5 to 15 minutes for yourself each day to relax can help you stay mentally and physically healthy. Begin immediately. If you are waiting for a more convenient time to make lifestyle changes, it won’t happen. Now is as good as any time. If you start now, you’ll have a jump on a healthier and more satisfying life. ■
WHY LOCAL? From Hometown Shops to National Chains, When You Buy in Lawrence It’s ‘Local’
Massage Envy Owner, Amy Gilliland by MARK FAGAN photo by STEVEN HERTZOG
We often hear about the importance of buying local, and about how shopping for goods and services in Lawrence helps build a stronger community. “When you’re shopping there’s a natural tendency to put something back into your community, if you can,” says Brian Watson, who tracks sales tax revenues as Assistant Finance Director at Lawrence City Hall. “Lawrence is very proactive about supporting the local community.” Yet while “buy local” can mean different things to different people, it’s important to remember that the simple act of purchasing anything in Lawrence – or even originating a purchase in town – can make a difference. Consider: The city expects to collect more than $21 million in revenues this year from sales taxes, money used for fixing streets, maintaining parks, financing police and fire protection and making dozens of other municipal projects, programs and services possible. Boosting local purchases by just one percent would mean another $210,000 in sales taxes. And that wouldn’t even include all the other benefits that would come with additional money swirling around the community for wages, payroll taxes, vendor contracts and more.
“It’s all reinvested back into the community,” Waston says. That’s something to think about when deciding whether to buy local, or even where to buy local. There certainly are plenty of opportunities, taking many forms. Take a local shop, owned by local folks. A place like Pawsh Wash. ‘It’s important to give back’ It’s a local business in every sense of the term: Two sisters opened the place in 2005, as a self-serve pet wash and health market. As coowners, the siblings also served as the business’s lone co-workers at Wakarusa Marketplace, southeast of Bob Billings Parkway and Wakarusa Drive. Today Amber and Nichele Nickel have two locations in town, having added the Pawsh Pet Health Market, southeast of Sixth Street and Lawrence Avenue. They employ 20 people. They sell any number of pet products and accessories, from doormats to duvets to pet conditioners, colognes, facial scrubs and more. The shop even helps others gain their footing. Earlier this year the Nickels started carrying Love Grub, an affordable high-protein, nowheat, no-corn, no-soy dog food developed, distributed and sold by fellow Lawrence residents Gary and Amy Rexroad.
Overall sales growth -- averaging about 35 percent a year -- makes it all go, Amber Nickel says. Their shoppers are local people buying products and services from a local business, one that never turns down an opportunity to donate a Doggie Spa Day for a charity auction, or a Year of Awesomeness – that’s a year’s worth of premium food, treats, accessories and grooming services – for the Lawrence St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Junior Achievement of Lawrence, the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence or the Lawrence Humane Society.
“We couldn’t be more local,” she says. “I employ 40 people here in Douglas County. Our three kids go to school here. Just because it looks corporate doesn’t mean that it is.” Corporate Connecting with Local Even corporate ownership doesn’t take “local” out of the picture, at least not always.
When a national retailer comes into town, it often occupies a building built with local labor, on property that may be owned, managed or developed by local people or partnerships. Local professionals might “I love Lawrence, and I love all the stuff that’s here in Lawrence,” handle planning. And the local population is tapped to work as Amber Nickel says. “These are all the things that make living in employees, earning payroll that soon is spent elsewhere in Lawrence Lawrence better. We think it’s important to give back.” – for food, shelter, entertainment and other sales tax generating Pawsh Wash isn’t alone in giving back. Not by a long shot. products and services. Lawrence is filled with such entrepreneurs, working to make their Like a massage. Perhaps some dog food. Or maybe something else dreams come alive and, along the way, help the community thrive. that makes a difference right here at home. But ask the leaders of such businesses what keeps them going, and there’s simply no escaping the bottom line. “I don’t split hairs,” Amber Nickel says. “I don’t care where you go, as Their support of the community comes from the community’s support of their businesses. “If we were a struggling business, we couldn’t afford to be generous,” Amber Nickel says. Such home-grown businesses aren’t the only ones helping the community. Some with roots in faraway places generate plenty of sales that stay right here in town. While franchised businesses may be based on concepts from elsewhere, the owners of so-called “national” shops often are quite local. McDonald’s ranks as the world’s largest and most widespread fast-food chain, but its Lawrence-area locations are owned and operated by Lawrence residents Tom and Marilyn Dobski, whose charitable donations, volunteer participation and civic contributions are much welcomed at Junior Achievement, the Lawrence Arts Center and beyond. Amy Gilliland, a member of this year’s class of Leadership Lawrence, has spent the past few years helping educate her fellow Lawrence residents that chains, in fact, often are local. Her work started when she moved back to Lawrence with her husband to start a business. They chose to become a franchisee of Massage Envy, based in Scottsdale, Ariz. “It was, ‘Oh no, the big guy’s coming in,’ ” recalls Gilliland, who had attended the University of Kansas before moving to Hutchinson and Dallas, only to be drawn back to Lawrence. “I’m like, ‘I’m not the big guy. I’ve got my house riding on this.’ ” The Gillilands live in Lawrence with their three children. Their business is growing. They support local causes and organize thoughtful fundraisers, building community along the way.
long as you stay in Lawrence.”■
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Chamber Establishes Plans & Priorities for 2014 The Board of Directors of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce has set forth the organizational plans and priorities for 2014 and is anxious to begin implementation of what promises to be an exciting new year. We will continue focusing on three key strategic issue priorities: Regional Economic Sustainability, Advocacy, and Member Connectivity & Relationships. Building on the progress made in 2013, Chamber leadership and staff will dedicate strong focus on facilitating strategic partnerships for the benefit of the community, educating the community about the benefits of economic development, promoting civic leadership and community engagement, and building a strong and effective communications platform. “We established key priorities nearly a year ago and created tremendous momentum and intend to transition into 2014 the exciting program of work the Chamber, in conjunction with its allied partners throughout the region, has developed.” says Doug Gaumer, 2013 chairman of the Chamber’s Board of Directors. The Chamber focus on regional development and economic growth will be based on objectives which include the recruitment, retention and expansion of business in Douglas County, the marketing of sites and facilities including the newly-redeveloped Lawrence Venture Park and the continued focus on establishing an Adult Career Technical Education program in the community. Many of the proposed programs and projects in this area will be financially supported by the 3-year economic development capital campaign, conducted throughout 2013. “We have been provided additional resources to allow for an expansion of our economic development outreach initiatives,” says Greg Williams, Chamber president and CEO. “We appreciate the faith and confidence our investors have placed in us and look forward to implementation of an aggressive and ambitious economic development program.” Incoming board chair Mike McGrew says the additional focus on existing business is critical to the Chamber’s program in 2014.
by GREG WILLIAMS, PRESIDENT/CEO LAWRENCE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
“We’ve established a committee with the sole focus of ensuring the needs and challenges of local employers are being addressed, and there is tremendous volunteer interest in moving this work to the forefront of our business plan.” The Chamber’s Advocacy initiative will build on success in the past year, focusing on enhanced member awareness and civic engagement regarding legislative issues. “Officials in Topeka and Washington D.C. have taken notice of our efforts in recent months,” says Williams. “And it’s our intent to be more visible and even more engaged in advocating on behalf of our members.” The Lawrence Chamber will also continue to prioritize increasing the visibility of its members through networking events, business referrals and marketing opportunities. “This is the core mission and traditional benefit of being a Chamber member,” says McGrew. “No Chamber organization can be successful unless and until the membership base is engaged, and it is our undying belief that providing opportunities to connect business to business is the true value of what we do.” ■ For more information on how your business and employees can get involved in the Chamber’s program of work, call us at 865-4411 or visit us at 646 Vermont Street in Downtown Lawrence.
by EMILY MULLIGAN photo by STEVEN HERTZOG
There are ribbon cuttings and announcements when a new business opens in Lawrence, and that is great. However, it is a fact that the growth of our current existing local business is the foundation of our local economy. The Lawrence Business Magazine and Cadre Lawrence want those existing businesses to receive recognition and applaud them for all that they do to grow their businesses and help to sustain and expand our local economy. Consequently, the Lawrence Business Magazine and Cadre Lawrence Foundation Award was established. To qualify, a company must be a locally owned or locally franchised for-profit business in Douglas County that has been in existence for at least three years. In addition, the recipients of the Foundation Award must also have shown growth in employment by 20 percent or 20 people between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013. To illustrate, if you have four employees and add one, that is a 20% growth, if you have 10 employees and have expanded to 12, that is a 20% growth. “We are excited about The Foundation Award, because it fits so perfectly with our (Lawrence Business Magazine’s) mission,” states Ann Frame Hertzog, LBM managing editor, “which is to write about the people and businesses making a positive impact on Lawrence. As you know, it takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice and dedication to create a successful business. We’re hoping for this award to make a positive statement about our existing businesses, our need to support those businesses locally and also to celebrate their achievements.” “This award is so important to the mission of Cadre Lawrence,” Zak Bolick, Cadre Lawrence President explains, “because it recognizes the successes of the small businesses in our community that are making an impact on the economic development challenges
that Lawrence faces. We oftentimes recognize and celebrate new businesses that choose Lawrence as a place to land, but not often enough do we take an evening to recognize those businesses that are doing amazing things here in our own backyard.” The Lawrence Business Magazine and Cadre Lawrence want to get out the word to all Douglas County businesses to make them aware of the award and to get them to fill out the simple online application. They are encouraging members of the community who know of a company that they believe meets these criteria to go online and enter the company’s name and in the notes let them know that you are recommending that company for follow-up to see if they qualify. Or if your company meets the criteria they really want you to fill out and submit the simple application online at: www. LawrenceBusinessMagazine.com/FoundationAward by January 31, 2014. All applicants will be contacted by email or phone to follow- up and verify that the criteria is met and other details. In addition, there will be one other award presented, The Footprint Impact Award. It will honor an established business that is committed to working and investing locally by working with and using other businesses in Douglas County–businesses dedicated to the belief that spending and buying locally, whenever possible, is essential to our business community and overall community as a whole. “We feel there is nothing more important to our local economy than local business growing,” Hertzog states. “And, there is nothing more powerful than businesses working with other local businesses to invigorate and grow our local economy.” To be eligible for the Footprint Impact Award, businesses must be locally owned or locally franchised in Douglas County and must demonstrate the local impact of their financial reinvestment in
the local community. Who do you work with, where do you buy your business supplies, where do you print, where do you go for healthcare – just a few of the items to consider when thinking of your business’s Footprint Impact. Business can be any shape or size; the goal is to highlight how they spend their business’s expense dollars through collaboration with other local businesses. Nominations (including self-nominations) for the Footprint Impact Award can also be submitted online at LawrenceBusinessMagazine.com/FoundationAward by January 31, 2014. Awards will be presented by Lawrence Mayor Mike Dever, from 5 to 7 p.m., February 27 at Alvamar Country Club. Neeli Bendapudi, H.D. Price Dean and Professor of Business at the KU School of Business, will be the featured speaker. Tickets are $15.00 and available online at LawrenceBusinessMagazine.com/ FoundationAward. Lawrence Business Magazine, published since 2011, is a quarterly magazine covering people and businesses making a positive impact on our community. Cadre Lawrence is a coalition of Lawrence citizens who work together to promote and support economic growth in Lawrence and Douglas County. ■
LAWRENCE APARTMENT MARKET OVERVIEW Report provided by: Tim Keller, MAI is President of Keller & Associates, Inc. Keller & Associates, Inc. is a full service real estate appraising and consulting firm, serving Kansas and the Greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area.
The Lawrence apartment market can be divided into four quadrants using Iowa Street and 15th Streets as the dividing lines. The northeast quadrant includes the campus of the University of Kansas and the Central Business District. This area is characterized by older small apartment projects. There are a few vacant sites available for new apartment construction in this area. The southeast quadrant is characterized by large two-story and two and one-half story apartment projects constructed in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Some large sites are available at the edges of the city. However, the Wakarusa River flood plain restricts development to the southeast. The southwest quadrant has seen considerable apartment development in the past ten years especially along Clinton Parkway. The northwest quadrant has also seen considerable apartment development in the past ten years along west 6th Street. This quadrant has seen the most growth as of late. Supply: In 2013, the Lawrence apartment market contained over 11,000 units in complexes of eight units or more. Excluding The Connection, The Reserve, Legends Place, and The Grove because they are non-traditional apartment units, the total supply of traditional apartment units is 9,446. In addition, there are a large number of smaller complexes with less than eight units and duplexes in this market, which are not included in this total. The approximate number of units broken down by unit size is shown below:
Demand: The populations of both the City of Lawrence and Douglas County increased at a strong pace for many years. However, this trend has slowed. For example, the 2000 census population for Lawrence was 80,098, a 21.5% increase over the 1990 census population. Current estimates put Douglas County’s population in 2010 at 110,826 people, a 10.9% increase since 2000, and Lawrence’s population at 87,643 people, a 9.4% increase. 2012 estimates report Lawrence with a population of 89,512. While there have been up and down swings, the overall enrollment trends at KU are flat. A cause for concern is the dip in enrollment in the last few years. A bright spot is the size of the freshman classes for the last two years. Historical enrollment for the Lawrence campus is highlighted below.
Source: KU Oﬃce of Institutional Research and Planning represents Lawrence on-campus enrollment only
Absorption: In the past, new apartment complexes and new units have typically been absorbed near the end of summer as students move back to school. Most new apartment complexes try to be completed and ready for occupancy by August 1st of each year. Over the last five years, the average absorption rate for apartments in Lawrence has been about 260 units per year. Rental Rates: Rental rates vary widely depending upon age, condition, and size of unit and location. From the third to the fourth quarter of 2013, Keller & Associates surveyed 64 apartment complexes with 4,983 total units throughout Lawrence. Management or owners surveyed report the following: 2013 Monthly Rental Rates
Source: 2013 Douglas County Appraiser’s Oﬃce
Construction: The following chart shows the number of building permits issued for single family residences, multi-family units and total units on a per year basis.
Source: 2013 City of Lawrence Planning Department YTD
2012 Monthly Rental Rates
Rental rates have increased for all units since 2012. The most notable change was an increase of $156 in 4BR/2BA units. It should be noted that there are a limited number of these units on the market. In 2013, the average increase in rental rates for all units in the market was approximately $56.
Vacancy: The overall vacancy rate has decreased from 7.7% to 5.5% a net change of 2.2% this past year in Lawrence despite a general increase in rental rates. Many complexes have reduced security deposits and included utilities with rent in order to gain occupancy. Conversations with property managers and owners prove that the one bedroom apartments seem to be in the highest demand while three and four bedroom demand has somewhat dwindled.
There is a substantial variance in vacancy by quadrant. The northeast and northwest quadrants have more students living in them because they are located closer to the University of Kansas. However, the KU bus system has seemed to increase the appeal of newer units located further from campus. It is also important to note that the sample size for 2013 is much larger than that of 2012.
A comparison of the vacancy rates by region for 2012 and 2013 is provided below:
In comparison to our survey last year, the vacancy rates decreased in three of the four quadrants. The only increase is in the northwest quadrant. Many of the apartments surveyed in the southeast quadrant were just south of 15th Street and are considered very near KU campus. Westfield Place is an apartment complex in the northwest quadrant that just recently completed phase 1 of construction. Specific vacancy numbers weren’t given out, but of the 45 completed units “nearly all are occupied” according to their leasing office. It is also important to note that some of the newer apartments in Lawrence are not included in our vacancy rate calculations due to their unwillingness to share that information. Though not included in our survey, there is also a fairly substantial rent-by-the-room market in Lawrence. There are approximately 1,000 of these types of units. These units are fully furnished, with the price built into the rent.
Apartment market trends are summarized as follows: Lawrence remains a student-oriented apartment market, but there is a trend for more non-student rentals. Most apartment leases expire in either July or August. Student enrollment at KU has decreased slightly in the last two years and has been flat for a decade. Studio and 1BR/1BA units have become increasingly popular, while demand for 4BR/2BA units has decreased. Construction of multi-family units continues at an average of 235 units per year, the pace of new construction has quickened the last four years averaging 285 units per year since 2010. The majority of proposed and recent construction is occurring in the northwest quadrant. However, one newer and two proposed highrise apartments are noted in the downtown sector. ■
N E WS M A KERS
PEOPLE ON THE MOVE. Derek Kwan named new director for Lied Center of Kansas LAWRENCE — Derek Kwan, Vice President of Concerts and touring at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, will be the new Executive Director of the Lied Center of Kansas. At Jazz at Lincoln Center, Kwan oversees a business unit encompassing programming, the marketing of hundreds of annual performances in New York, and the international touring of The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. In September 2012 he helped to implement webcasts of performances that have generated viewers from all 50 states and more than 160 countries. His current role is unique in that he simultaneously serves as both a performing arts presenter and artist manager for The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Kwan has been Vice President at Jazz at Lincoln Center since 2012. He had previously been an Associate Director from 2000 to 2005. Kwan will replace Executive Director Tim Van Leer, who is retiring after leading the Lied Center for the last 12 years. Kwan’s career also includes time as Executive Director of Interlochen Presents at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan from 2007 to 2012, where he collaborated with arts and academic faculty to program guest artists to enhance existing curriculum. He managed events ranging from internationally renowned guests to student and faculty presentations. Guest artists during his tenure included Olga Kern, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Emerson String Quartet as well as the program “A Prairie Home Companion” with Garrison Keillor.
Kwan earned his bachelor’s degree from Duke University. In 2007, he earned a Master of Business Administration from the Bolz Center for Arts Administration at the University of Wisconsin School of Business. He served as education and outreach coordinator for the Wisconsin Union Theater while pursuing his MBA. He spent several years as a freelance record producer. His credits include more than 60 world/jazz music albums, including the 2005 Grammy-winning album “Bebo de Cuba” by Bebo Valdes. “It is an honor to have the opportunity to build upon the incredible foundation established by Jackie Davis and Tim Van Leer during the Lied Center’s first 20 years,” Kwan said. “When visiting campus, it was readily apparent that the University of Kansas and Lawrence value the Lied Center as an integral part of the community. The warmth, passion and enthusiasm conveyed by everyone I encountered truly inspired me. Our family looks forward to joining KU and the Lawrence community.”
BTBC at KU names President, Chief Operating Officer LAWRENCE — The region’s largest incubator network has added a new member to its leadership team. The Bioscience & Technology Business Center at the University of Kansas today announced business professional and entrepreneur G.R. Underwood as the organization’s new president and chief operating officer. Underwood will manage daily operations and implement long-term strategies for the BTBC system, which comprises three facilities housing 29 tenant companies. Underwood will be based out of the BTBC Main Facility, located at 2029 Becker Drive on KU’s west campus. He will report directly to LaVerne Epp, executive chairman of the BTBC. “I’m thrilled to join the BTBC at KU,” Underwood said. “The BTBC has become a powerful tool for KU and economic development leaders to create new companies and recruit existing ones to Lawrence.
I look forward to advancing the BTBC’s mission of growing the economy, creating jobs, increasing the local tax base and stimulating wealth creation in the community.” The BTBC’s president and chief operating officer position had been vacant since September 2012. It’s a homecoming of sorts for Underwood, who was Vice President of Client Services for the Lawrence Regional Technology Center, the predecessor of the BTBC, from 2007 to 2010. Underwood has spent the past three years in Austin, Texas, where he co-founded and served as CEO of a University of Texas spinout company specializing in software for the oil and gas industry. In his role, Underwood will work closely with University of Kansas Innovation and Collaboration, the office that manages entrepreneurship, commercialization and technology transfer activity for the university. “Recruiting and creating companies in the life sciences and technology industries continues to be a top priority for the BTBC at KU,” said Epp. “We love the value G.R. brings in these areas, specifically his experience in spinning off a successful startup company based on university technology. That’s exactly the type of work he can do here in Lawrence. There are 24 active startup
companies based on KU research, and we think G.R. can help add to that number.” Underwood received a Master of Business Administration from the University of Oklahoma in 2006. He received a bachelor’s degree in business from OU in 2000. Underwood and his wife, Dr. Leslie Underwood, have two children: a 3-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son. Leslie will begin work as an obstetrics and gynecology physician at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in January. “My wife and I couldn’t be more excited to return to the region,” Underwood said. “It’s a great city with friendly people and a personality all its own. Not to mention an incredible amount of high-tech research, resources and human capital that has the potential to turn the area into a first-class hub of technology commercialization.” The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. The university’s mission is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world. The KU News Service is the central public relations office for the Lawrence campus. ■
S C E N E
Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer 2013
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