Letters to the Editor

No gains

August 31, 2010


To the editor:

Economics offers much to teach us. Dolph Simons’ Saturday Column of Aug. 28 states that Lowe’s would add sales taxes, jobs and property taxes. Economics shows this to be incorrect.

There is a finite number of people and income in Lawrence to provide demand for home improvement and other retail goods. Sales taxes are paid by consumers; vendors simply pass them through. Lowe’s would not add any people or income, so there would not be any additional sales tax revenues. The revenues from Lowe’s would simply be taken away from other stores.

Retail jobs depend upon spending, and the count of retail jobs have been going down slowly over time. Lowe’s would not change this. There would be a momentary increase in property tax revenues, but ultimately, the aggregate value of retail property depends upon spending, not the number of buildings. Lowe’s would not change this, and after a period of time, other stores would suffer a loss of value with no net gain to the city’s tax base.

For too long, the City Commission let retail space grow much faster than the growth of demand for that space. This is too bad. The surplus is causing blight and disinvestment throughout the retail districts of the city. Given this problem, there is no gain in adding to the surplus, and it will be a long time before we can absorb another home improvement center. The Planning Commission was right to stop Lowe’s.

We should learn from economics and plan accordingly.

Kirk McClure,



Practicality 5 years ago

So, by your logic we should close all grocery stores except one. We should close all gas stations except one. We should close all . . . . . except one. Why pick on Lowes?

I have driven to Lowes in Topeka multiple times to get specific items sold only by Lowes. I am not the only one either. You are failing to take into account that Lowes probably keeps track of their sales by zip code information, which is why they think coming to Lawrence would be a good idea. If the market can not handle however many retail stores which are here, then some will close. But shouldn't the market decide that and not the arbitrary decision of Kirk McClure?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

"So, by your logic we should close all grocery stores except one. We should close all gas stations except one."

No, that's your twisting of the logic (which renders it illogical.)

"I have driven to Lowes in Topeka multiple times to get specific items sold only by Lowes."

So what? Just because a relative handful of people occasionally drive to Topeka to purchase from Lowe's does nothing to change the facts that McClure presents here.

"But shouldn't the market decide that and not the arbitrary decision of Kirk McClure?"

This isn't an "arbitrary decision" by McClure. It isn't a decision at all. It's information that we either include in our decision making, or not. Given the glut of retail space in this town, so far, it's been completely ignored.

BTW, markets don't decide anything. People decide. Compton and friends may very well get their decision to put in a Lowe's at this location crammed down our throats, and that'll make people who want to shop there happy. But the bigger picture will almost certainly be precisely as McClure describes it. It'll merely be a shifting of purchasing dollars, creating no net gain in tax revenues or employment for the city and county, and likely creating more pressure on existing retail outlets, potentially putting them out of business, creating vacant buildings and blight that will eventually cost taxpayers money.

Bottom line, for every "winner" the addition of a Lowe's to Lawrence might create, there will also be a loser. And it won't make our teeth whiter, either.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

"BTW, markets don't decide anything. People decide."

And markets are made up of what, Herr Klowne - gerbils? Oak trees? Tuna?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Maybe you should have used lemmings as your example. Because that seems to be how you think people make purchasing choices.

That analogy may work for you, but when I need a 2x4 or a box of screws, I make the decision on where to purchase them, not the "market."

notajayhawk 5 years ago

Ooh, nice try, no cookie.

Um, boohoozo? If the market demand hadn't been there, the store you 'decided' to buy your box of screws from wouldn't have been there. Maybe you should be shopping for a screwdriver, since you have plenty of them, but they're all loose.

Lindsey Buscher 5 years ago

Yes, NAJ, good work, you deduced that markets are made up of people; but alas the "people" bozo is referring to aren't the players in the market, but rather the power-brokers in this town who can get just about any development they want built in any place at any time.

Bozo 1, NAJ 0

notajayhawk 5 years ago

Well, porch ... er, I mean pug - as much as it pains me to point out the flaw in what passes for logic in that cobweb-infested cranium of yours (which doesn't isn't really a lot of pain, really), those 'power-brokers' are in integral part of the market.

As usual, pugs: Another big, fat zero.

BTW, pugs - is this the epitome of your aspirations, to follow boohoozo around the LJW message boards as his cheerleader and ***-kisser-in-chief?

Lindsey Buscher 5 years ago

Well, pudge ... er, I mean NAJ - as much as it pains me to point out the flaw in what passes for logic in that cobweb-infested cranium of yours (which doesn't isn't really a lot of pain, really), those 'power-brokers' are AN integral part of market failures that lead to blight.

As usual, Puggy 1, NAJ Another big, fat zero.

BTW, NAJ - it is easy to follow you around the LJW message boards and make fun of your posts and sucker you in to silly debates.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

I see you're still letting your parrot respond to posts. Probably wise of you to defer to superior intelligence.

And apparently, your bird has a much better understanding of economics. Or perhaps, little boy, you'd like to get up in front of the class and explain to everyone how these 'power-brokers' led to failure and blight if they were not "players in the market"?

"it is easy to follow you around the LJW message boards and make fun of your posts and sucker you in to silly debates."

Much easier, apparently, than to dispute what I said or come up with anything at all intelligent to say.

Again, thanks for playing. Now, porch/parrot/pugsley, the sun has come out, why don't you get out of your mommy's hair and go play outside like a good child?

Lindsey Buscher 5 years ago

Yup, power brokers are sure integral to legal real estate development: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/oct...

Lindsey Buscher 5 years ago

That's Dr. McClure. His day job is a professor of Urban Planning at the University of Kansas, which includes teaching the simple economics of supply and demand. And I highly recommend that you quit your day job as a LJW poster because you SUCK at it.

Cait McKnelly 5 years ago

LOL!!! No rebuttal needed. I was just giggling at the fact that you got your pompous butt handed right back to ya.

Lindsey Buscher 5 years ago

"Wow, 18th century mercantilism is alive and well. Too bad it was discredited 200 years ago...."

No kidding, if you only cite discredited economic theory to back up your argument. Maybe we ought to leech you to fix your mental disability?

rtwngr 5 years ago

If Dr. McClure is "Merrill" then he is an overeducated liberal that sees evil in every free market. His rantings and "cut and pastes" wreak of socialism.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

So, if he's wrong, then your point must be that there is infinite demand for home improvement and other retail goods (and therefore money to buy it with.)

Care to walk us through how that works?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Oh, that's great news.

Now I can spend all I want, because the amount of money in my bank account is no longer finite-- it's "dynamic."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

I agree. But it's essentially your assertion, not mine.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

So, you're saying that there is no finite amount of money available to the shoppers of Lawrence? It's "dynamic?"

How does that work, if not precisely as I stated? (unless you are going to assert that the economy works just the same on borrowed/printed money.)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

It really doesn't matter if you want to call it a photograph or a snapshot. If Lowe's gets built here next year, the amount of money available for hardware/lumber/appliance purchases in Lawrence, KS and surrounding areas is not going to change appreciably over the next five years-- the way the economy is going, there will probably be considerably less. Which means that Lowe's, with enough cash on hand to lose money for that whole five years, will survive, and existing competitors will not.

Lindsey Buscher 5 years ago

hahaha, "I will take the businessmen at Lowe's judgment regarding the market in Lawrence"

I will tell you what your businessmen are doing...they are thinking about competition, not supply and demand. They are coming to town to take business away from HD.

Retail pull factor is calculated as a proportion of spending from outside the county. That is, if the population in Douglas County has the capacity by itself to $1 million in sales to Lawrence's businesses, but they do $1.1 million in sales, that is a pull factor of 1.1, meaning Lawrence would be drawing sales from outside of Douglas County. This is ideal because it means that businesses are being supported by consumers other than the home population. Below 1 is considered retail leakage, or the case where Douglas County consumers are spending their money in other counties.

Right now, Lawrence's pull factor is lingering around 1, some argue it's a little more, some argue a little less. The bottom line is that we want it to get higher.

How is building a Lowe's going to make it higher than 1 if there are already Lowe's in the surrounding counties? It may solve for retail leakage, but it will not, as McClure argues, do what Citizen Dolph claims by increasing consumers, sales or income.

Lowe's "businessmen" do not expect that building in Lawrence will draw consumers from outside the county, but they know it will draw business away from HD. The supporters of the Lowe's project are correct in stating that no policy should protect HD from competition (http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2010/aug...) but it is good policy to ensure that the businesses already in town should be insulated from going out of business. If HD goes out of business, then we are left with a great big vacant box store on 31st and Iowa that could become the blight that McClure warns against.

jafs 5 years ago

Lowe's, or any other individual business, isn't thinking about the overall benefit to Lawrence, simply their own bottom line.

If, in fact, Lowe's comes in and puts HD out of business, that's good for Lowe's.

It may not, in fact, be good for the city as a whole.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

That's up to the market to decide. They wouldn't go to the considerable expense to open a store if their market research didn't show a demand. And if their sales come at the expense of HD, then it will be because the customer base around Lawrence found their prices, their selection, their quality, and/or their service to be better than HD. Which means it is still a benefit to Lawrence.

jafs 5 years ago


It's not up to the market to decide what's good for the city as a whole - the market only determines business success or failure - it's a very narrowly focused entity.

Do you think cities should have no planning, zoning, etc.?

Liberty One seems to think so.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

In a way it most certainly is up to the market to decide. What's good for the city is what the people of that city want. Who gets to decide that something is what's good for the city as a whole if it's not what the people that live in that city want? Those people voting with their wallets ARE the city, jafs.

jafs 5 years ago

We also vote at the ballot box, and elect people who represent our idea of what we want the city to be.

Part of that representation involves zoning and planning decisions.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

Did you vote for planning and zoning commissioners, jafs? Do you know their names and whether they're the guys you voted for?

Cait McKnelly 5 years ago

Ahhh voodoo economics at it's best. I thought that went out with the 'eighties.

puddleglum 5 years ago

"book smart and street stupid."

uhh, why you say that? Because you disagree, or are you a professor in 'street smart urban planning'? "hey yo, lets build some stuff over here and sell some stuff in it, yo." "4 reelz, dawg-that would be the hype, yo!"

notajayhawk 5 years ago

"There is a finite number of people and income in Lawrence"

Well, unless you count the 11% population growth in the past decade. Of course, if you limit the availability of goods for sale, particularly those having to do with building or remodeling homes, you might cut that back some ...

jafs 5 years ago

At any point in time, the number is still finite.

One could argue that as population increases, that retail, etc. should increase proportionally, of course.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

By that token, when I'm driving at 60 mph, at any point in time I'm standing still.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

And the amount sq. footage of real estate dedicated to retail has increased faster than the population in a town that has lots of commuters driving right past Lowe's and other stores in Topeka, KCK and OP every day.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

And there were probably a lot of people that objected to the building of the home where you live at one time, boohoohoozo.

In retrospect, there are still a lot who do.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

Gee, boohoohoozo, I figured you were old from your doddering posts, but I never suspected you were that old.

grammaddy 5 years ago

We have a Home Depot, and I never see that parking lot full. Why would we need a Lowes?

grammaddy 5 years ago

I'm a tax-paying resident of this city,who is tired of seeing new stuff built and then gone within 3 years.Too many abandoned buildings and others that have never been used(East Hills).In case you haven't heard, there is a recession going on. Why build what we don't need?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Determining "need" is definitely a dicey proposition. And while markets are good at fulfilling perceived needs, they are also notoriously good at externalizing costs in order to profit off of filling said perceived needs. Hence, the reason we have zoning laws.

Cait McKnelly 5 years ago

Ahh let's add another one to the philosophy that the"free market" is "free" and has no bearing or impact on the community and it's citizens.

jafs 5 years ago

Then how are the opinions of the community and its citizens irrelevant, as you claim above?

funkdog1 5 years ago

Oh good. That means that all those peoples' personal opinions about not wanting a mosque in NYC are completely irrelevant. As long as the zoning is appropriate, they should be allowed to build it.

grammaddy 5 years ago

Calm down! I didn't realize that Lowe's owned property here.Personally I don't " need" either one.

thebigspoon 5 years ago

Liberty, I find myself in and odd agreement with you: the decision as to wheter L's should build should be theirs alone (within the confines of city code, et.) but I do have a slight bone to pick with your answer to grammy, and that is that there is a bit of a burden placed on the city, and, thus, the taxpayers, when infrastructure built by the city and paid for by tax dollars is not being paid back by the failed businesses. I know this is a small point, but, in any discussion of the impact of business location in Lawrence, I think any bit of burden shifted from entrepeneurial entities to us is important.

Lindsey Buscher 5 years ago

because becuz becoz all those people at home depot really jus wanna shop at Lowe's.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

The economy sucks everywhere, Tom.

Largely because the model of mindless consumerism paid for with borrowed money and artificially cheap energy is collapsing on itself.

jafs 5 years ago

The real problem is that our economy depends on consumption, while saving more and spending less seems to be better for individuals.

So as people do more of what's good for them personally (more saving and less spending), the economy slows down.

Anybody have any ideas for a solution - one in which individuals can do what's best for themselves, and the economy flourishes at the same time?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

I've never made such a claim. My position has always been in support of a mixed economy which includes elements of private enterprise/market economy (I'd say that should make up roughly 2/3 of the entire economy) and the remaining 1/3 taken care of by the public sector, mostly dealing with education, healthcare, public safety and public works, although I think that utilities that achieve monopolistic status should likely be taken over by the government.

I don't think that government needs to own much at all in the way of productive capacity (true socialism,) although they do have a major role to play as regulators to protect worker safety and public health.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

That's the magical twin of "free market capitalism." That's your research assignment.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

There is no "perfect" mix, any more than there is any perfect "free market capitalism" or "socialist utopia."

There will always be pushing and pulling between different societal forces and ideologies-- which is precisely why there will always be a mixed economy.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

I take it that that is a surrogate phrase for "nothing to say."

puddleglum 5 years ago

China & Wal-Mart seem to be doing pretty well.

just keep building and building and building and then you have more buildings. At least, that makes sense.

Mike Ford 5 years ago

wow we have a collective group of name callers who whine when people call them names who want unbridled sprawl and act like the thieves in line at the Sooner land rush in 1893. What we really need is a bunch more JOCO looking homogenous strip malls that go through tenants like the one at 15th and Wakarusa. Where's my Pizza Shoppe, what is Zig and Mac's now, where did the liquor store go? oh that's the ticket, build baby build with tax abatements, in the end we can get the taxpayers to foot the bill like all republican unfunded mandates and then we can blame the Democrats who inherit our messes at all levels from municipal to national... yeah that's the ticket....

Lindsey Buscher 5 years ago

I'd with you, tush, i would seriously consider a citizens' organization against the JoCo-ization of Lawrence.

cato_the_elder 5 years ago

The letter writer has it backwards. Significant commercial growth, including retail, has been stymied in Lawrence for three decades. On the other hand, residential growth was virtually unchecked until the bubble burst, first locally from a market that had become shamefully overbuilt and then nationally from the recession (which, quite ironically, was brought about by government housing policies that had been exploited by many in the Lawrence real estate industry to create the overbuilt market in the first place). Many of the buyers of the vast number of new homes built in Lawrence since the late 1980s began to live here but work elsewhere, i.e. for employers that were themselves paying property taxes to taxing districts in Kansas City and Topeka, not Lawrence. Many of these same Lawrence residents have also engaged in much of their discretionary spending outside of Lawrence.

On a relative basis, residents of homes in Lawrence utilize a great deal more government services (especially those with children in public schools) than do most commercial properties, especially major manufacturing plants. This results in net gains for the tax base and lower taxes with increased commercial development, and net losses for the tax base and higher taxes with increased residential development that occurs without the commercial development necessary to support it. While commercial office space in Lawrence is also presently overbuilt and has been ratcheted back by market forces, we should never turn down retail or, especially, manufacturing. In short, the balance between commercial development and concomitant residential growth in Lawrence that we used to know has been way of of whack for years. Any project such as the Lowe's store would undoubtedly draw many customers from neighboring counties, improve our tax base, and help to ameliorate the lack of relative balance to which I refer.

jafs 5 years ago

I don't know if I agree overall with that assessment, but let's assume it's correct.

"Balancing" the tax base won't happen if we give new companies lavish tax abatements in order to attract them to the area, which has been happening for some time.

cato_the_elder 5 years ago

Jafs, I didn't say one word about tax abatements.

jafs 5 years ago

I know.

But proponents of increasing businesses in Lawrence often advocate for and use them.

Which cuts into the "balance" the tax base argument.

mom_of_three 5 years ago

And what about the people from neighboring towns who would come here to Lowe's instead of going to Topeka or Olathe?
We do shop here in town at HOme Depot, but if they don't carry it, then we go to Lowe's.
I would love for them to build one here. If you would rather I keep spending my money in Olathe, then okay.

Lindsey Buscher 5 years ago

That is partially his point. Most, including Dolph and the Retail Task Force are arguing that we ought to build something like this because it will prevent Lawrence citizens from leaving town to shop at Lowe's. Okay, so building it solves a little leakage, but more likely it simply redirects spending from elsewhere in the city, meaning that the tide isn't actually raising all the ship, the tide isn't raising at all.

Furthermore, that Planning Commission denied it based on the location, which sucks. The planning staff might make another recommendation if the Lowe's were moved, perhaps closer to the K10 - 6th St interchange, but then that wouldn't make any money for Compton, which is really what this all boils down to in the end.

Charles L Bloss Jr 5 years ago

I frequently shop at the Lowe's store in Topeke, preferring it to Home Depot. I would be pleased if they opened one in Lawrence as it is half the driving distance for us. We just bought a $225 grill from the Lowe's in Topeka. It is a mistake not permitting Lowe's to build a store in Lawrence. Thank you, Lynn

Charles L Bloss Jr 5 years ago

I frequently shop at the Lowe's store in Topeka, preferring it to Home Depot. I would be pleased if they opened one in Lawrence as it is half the driving distance for us. We just bought a $225 grill from the Lowe's in Topeka. It is a mistake not permitting Lowe's to build a store in Lawrence. Thank you, Lynn

CountyResident 5 years ago

If you bought that same grill in the planned Lowe's store in Lawrence you would have to pay at least 10% more sales tax. You have to pay this so they can improve their store in the future.

econ101 5 years ago

A company like Lowe's does not become as prominent as they are by tossing stores willy-nilly into communities where they won't be successful. There is a very precise formula by which corporations like this one execute new ventures. Rest assured, they've got our number! Tracking our habits as consumers is their business. I challenge anyone to cite an example of Lowe's building a store in a location that ultimately did not produce the numbers it needs... I understand the arguement that this would just divert dollars from one place to another, but that's sort of their job, right? Is it a city's right to regulate what businesses are allowed to compete in their local marketplace?

jafs 5 years ago

It is incumbent upon a city to take other factors into consideration, if we care about our city and how it develops.

That's why we have things like city planning.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

Shouldn't it be up to the people of the city, the ones who will either spend their money there or not, to determine how the city develops? What good is a planning commission that puts in place their ideas of which factors to consider, if what the people they're supposed to be serving aren't part of the equation?

jafs 5 years ago

Well, we elect our elected officials.

If they aren't representing us, then we can choose others.

My point is just that the narrow-minded approach claiming that Lowe's knows what they're doing or they wouldn't open a store here isn't sufficient to determine whether it's in the best interests of Lawrence as a whole.

No individual business (or group of businesses) considers that - the only chance that someone might is if they're an elected city official whose job is to consider the larger picture.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

At least Lowe's has something. What do the opponents have to back up their claim that it would not be in the city's best interests?In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, doesn't Lowe's have the same right to open a business in Lawrence as HD and the other stores that are already here?

jafs 5 years ago

The opposition has the fact that we are overbuilt in retail, and have many vacant retail spaces.

And, the analysis above in the letter that a new Lowe's will most likely not bring a net gain to the city.

But, I'm not saying that Lowe's should be denied completely - I do think, though, that they shouldn't be allowed to build a larger store that conflicts with the planning for that area, that was specifically designated as "new urbanist" - ie. a mix of smaller stores and residential.

And, I wouldn't like to see any tax abatements or CID's used.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

"The opposition has the fact that we are overbuilt in retail, and have many vacant retail spaces.

"And, the analysis above in the letter that a new Lowe's will most likely not bring a net gain to the city."

The opinion above said that. And the opinion above looks at one thing and one thing only: The net effect on the city's finances. Are you saying that is the only factor in what is in the city's best interests, jafs?

jafs 5 years ago


It was being sold as a way to increase revenue - if that is unlikely, then the proponents need to find another way of selling it.

But it's interesting that you also don't live or spend here, but seem to have many opinions about what should or should not happen here - why is that?

I have lived in and around Lawrence for over ten years, and have a vested interest in how the city has and will continue to change over the years - in my observation, we have too much vacant retail space and we should get most of that filled in before building new stores.

My interest is in the city retaining some of it's charm and character, not allowing various areas to become blighted, etc.

What's yours?

notajayhawk 5 years ago

Huh. You're starting to sound like another, somewhat more fanatical, poster, who the other day asked if I was Catholic, or why would I be commenting on the thread about the priest.

I could be wrong, but I seem to remember a post or two from you on the issue of the mosque, jafs. Are you a Muslim? Do you live in lower Manhattan?

Have you ever commented on a thread related to gay marriage? Are you gay?

If you commented on the thread about the DUI check lanes, can we surmise from that you have a history of drunk driving?

Why is it, jafs, that someone can express their opinion about the principles involved on an issue - only as long as those opinions do not vary from your own?

I still occasionally buy a thing or two in Lawrence, but usually only when I have to go there for some other reason. The reason I stopped doing the majority of my shopping there was due to the mT tax. I didn't get to vote for it, I didn't get to vote for the elected officials who proposed it, and I'm never going to use the T. So I decided not to pay for it.

The only time I shop in Lawrence now, other than to pick up a gallon of milk if I'm already there and it's not worth going out of my way to get it elsewhere, is to go shop somewhere or purchase something that isn't conveniently available elsewhere. Maybe I would be inclined to shop at a Lowe's. But whether or not that constitutes a vested interest, since when do YOU get to decide what principles I'm allowed to take a stand on?

And the principle involved here is a simple one: Lowe's has a right to open a store as much as the already-existing hardware stores do, and to compete with them, and possibly cause them to go out of business. If the majority of your fellow Lawrencians share your desire to maintain the city's charm, then the Lowe's will fail and close, because they won't shop there. But unless it opens, you won't know which side those fellow Lawrencians will come down on.

jafs 5 years ago

I didn't say you didn't have a right to an opinion - I simply asked why you had so many about a town that you don't live or shop in (I assume you don't work here as well).

I grew up in Greenwich Village, which is pretty close to lower Manhattan, knew people who were in the towers, have friends who live in the area.

I have friends and acquaintances who are gay.

I know of many alcohol-related accidents and deaths, although I have never personally driven drunk.

You have a right to any opinions - I just wonder why someone has such strong ones about a town which is basically irrelevant to their life.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

And I have friends, relatives, and acquaintances in Lawrence.

And I have strong opinions about principles. I could frankly care less about Lawrence. If Lowe's was trying to build a store in Left Overshoe, Nebraska, I'd feel the same way, and probably comment on it. If I happened to read the Left Overshoe Gazette, that is. I might point out that an awful lot of the stories that both you and I comment on have absolutely nothing to do with Lawrence, or Douglas County, or even Kansas. Except, of course, in principle.

jafs 5 years ago


And yes, I had that thought as well - when there are larger issues, I care about them because I care about what happens to our country.

supertrampofkansas 5 years ago

I would use Lowe's if they were here. Tired of driving to the one on Shawnee Mission Parkway. By the way I use all of the hardware stores in town including Cottin's, Westlake, Schmidt, and Whelans. I like having choices. I don't plan on quitting my day job and economics isn't my field but I would say the matter is a little more complex than what is being said on here. My two cents worth.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

"By the way I use all of the hardware stores in town including Cottin's, Westlake, Schmidt, and Whelans. I like having choices."

But if a new Lowe's means that you and many other shoppers no longer buy or buy less from these retailers, and that almost certainly would be the case, it's very likely one or more of these stores will close, meaning that there has been no increase, and perhaps a decrease, of choices.

supertrampofkansas 5 years ago

But we do it anyway, right? How is this any different from me going to Lowes on Shawnee Mission or as others have state Topeka? I could see how it might even help since we would save on gas. It keeps the money here in Lawrence. I don't know Bozo, I'm not an expert in economics and I can't speak intelligently about the behavior of others but I have many friends that do that exact same things in going to multiple stores.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Given that 99% of what Lowe's has is already available locally, if you can get an item locally, you don't drive to Topeka to get it at Lowe's, do you?

But if there is a Lowe's store here, rather than buying say 5-10% of your purchases at Lowe's, it may turn into 50-90%. And if enough shoppers do that, existing stores will definitely feel the pinch.

That's not to say that a Lowe's shouldn't be built here. But it's hardly a win-win situation for everybody. For a whole lot of people, it will be lose-lose, and for the city as a whole, a break even at best.

Practicality 5 years ago

"Given that 99% of what Lowe's has is already available locally, if you can get an item locally, you don't drive to Topeka to get it at Lowe's, do you?"

Again, the same product is not the same brand. You are failing to address this issue. You can not purchase Kobalt tools at Home Depot. You can not purchase a Rigid Powerwasher at Lowes. You are basically claiming that individuals do not have a desire for specific brand name items. You are just stating that you can by a powerwasher at any store, or you can buy tools at any store and that it doesn't matter who makes them.

Again, why does bozo get to decide what products I get to purchase locally and what products I have to drive to get?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

"Again, why does bozo get to decide what products I get to purchase locally and what products I have to drive to get?"

I don't know who you are arguing with, but it's not me.

supertrampofkansas 5 years ago

"Given that 99% of what Lowe's has is already available locally, if you can get an item locally, you don't drive to Topeka to get it at Lowe's, do you?"

Not sure how you came up with that number because you are stating as a fact? I disagree. Purchases from my standpoint depends on the situation whether it be price, brand, convenience, type of service or availability.

I think your example of 5 to 10% vs. 50 to 90%. is irrelevant. At least for me, no matter where the store is, I don't think my percentages will change by much. Of course I can't predict the behavior of others so who knows.

With that being said, I still would like to have Lowe's here is Lawrence.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

"Given that 99% of what Lowe's has is already available locally, if you can get an item locally, you don't drive to Topeka to get it at Lowe's, do you?"

If that is true, then the store will fail. If people shop there instead of the other local stores that carry similar products, then there is obviously something about the prices/selection/quality/service that the customers find preferable.

Why should you get to decide for the rest of us that the local stores should be protected? If they can't compete, there's a reason. And it should be up to the consumer to make that decision, not you.

Practicality 5 years ago

Why do you think you have the right to decide which stores stay in business by reducing the competition they have with other stores? Why is one better than the other?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Where did I say that I had that right?

Lowe's wants a store here because they think it'd be good for Lowe's, not for Lawrence. And I can guarantee you that they expect that what's good for Lowe's will be bad for their competitors, and what's bad for them may very well be bad for Lawrence, as well. That's just a fact.

Practicality 5 years ago

Or it could be good for Lawrence and bad for the competitors. Why do you favor the competitors of Lowes and wish to give them an advantage by not allowing Lowes into Lawrence? It could be that the competiton reduces prices, which then would be good for the consumer, i.e. the people of Lawrence.

Why do you think the people of Lawrence having to pay more for items is good for Lawrence?

jafs 5 years ago

The argument isn't about whether Lowe's can come here at all, it's about whether they can locate a store in a particular area, when that area has a plan which wouldn't allow for it there.

Practicality 5 years ago

Wrong again jafs, a previous article mentioned the location, this LTE is referring to Lawrence.

jafs 5 years ago

That may be, but I haven't seen any evidence that anyone is actually trying to stop Lowe's from coming here.

This letter simply responds to the claims made about net gains if Lowe's comes here - the writer believes those are false.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

Actually, jafs, the LTE writer said "Given this problem, there is no gain in adding to the surplus, and it will be a long time before we can absorb another home improvement center. The Planning Commission was right to stop Lowe’s." He didn't say the city can't absorb another store in that location, he said the city can't absorb it, period. And he used the words "stop Lowe's".

jafs 5 years ago

He did.

But the planning commission didn't deny Lowe's the right to build anywhere in Lawrence - simply the right to do so at a location which is inappropriate, given the plan for that area.

There are two issues in play, it seems - one is the ability of a city to plan and zone in order to guide the way that it develops - the other is whether new businesses provide a net gain or not to a city.

I support the efforts to guide development.

And, I think the question of whether new businesses will provide a net gain is valid, if they're being sold on that basis.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

"But the planning commission didn't deny Lowe's the right to build anywhere in Lawrence - simply the right to do so at a location which is inappropriate, given the plan for that area."

But you said you didn't see anyone trying to stop it from opening.

Who cares if there is a net gain or if it opens at the expense of its competitors? That's nothing more than protectionism and unfair interference in the market. You said above you have an interest in maintaining the charm of the city. Great. That has nothing to do with a net financial gain for the city. Your definition of what's best for the people of Lawrence is keeping the city charming. I maintain that if they can get a product they prefer at prices they approve of from a selection unavailable to them now, that is also a benefit to the people of the city. What makes your wishes more important than theirs?

jafs 5 years ago

They're not trying to stop Lowe's from coming here at all, simply in a particular location.

Who cares if there is a net gain? Well, if the idea of bringing new businesses to the area is sold as providing a net gain, then it seems reasonable to ask if that will actually happen or not.

My interest includes maintaining some of the charm of Lawrence - it's not my only one. And I never said my wishes were more important.

Why is it that you don't like the fact that we vote for elected officials, and part of that job is planning and zoning? If people don't like the decisions that are made, they can simply vote against that candidate.

Unless you agree with Liberty One that all forms of zoning, etc. are simply wrong, what's your problem with this?

notajayhawk 5 years ago

And I'll ask you again - did you vote for the planning and zoning commissioners are in Lawrence? Do you know who they are (without looking it up) and even whether they're the people you voted for?

jafs 5 years ago

If they are elected officials that I could have voted for, then I did so.

Don't know whether they got elected or not, or their names.

But either way, that's how our system works - the majority of the voters get to determine who gets elected.

You seem to have some sort of problem with that.

If my guys didn't get elected, then that's too bad - if I care enough about it, I can get involved and advocate for more people to vote my way, or to get involved in some other way.

I will generally vote for those that seem closest to my view and approach - although I have a bit of a composite view, which makes it difficult at times.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

How exactly is the majority expressing its will through the ballot box when they don't even know who got elected or whether it was the person they voted for? It's bad enough that probably less than 100 people in Lawrence knew the first thing about where the candidates for such a position actually stood on the issues related to planning and development, but not even knowing their names? And then saying it's the will of the people? Seriously?

jafs 5 years ago

I never said it was the "will of the people" - it was the will of the majority of those who chose to vote.

And, as I said, I vote for those who generally seem closest to my approach - for me, that generally means voting for Democratic candidates - I imagine for you it's generally Republicans.

Our system works better when more people vote - then the outcome is more representative. And it works better when people are more intelligent and well-informed.

But if people choose not to vote, that isn't the fault of the system, it's their own choice not to get involved, which they are also free to choose.

And, I know enough about the respective positions of Democrats and Republicans in general to make my decision.

The Republican view is well represented by your comments - that businesses have "rights" and that communities shouldn't exercise discretion and planning - they should simply allow any businesses to locate anywhere they want and let the "market" decide things.

I disagree with that, so I'm not likely to vote for a Republican planning/development candidate.

jafs 5 years ago

Also, if they're not elected, but rather appointed, then they'll be appointed by the elected officials who won the elections.

It's still our democracy in action - what don't you like about it?

notajayhawk 5 years ago

If they're appointed positions, then they may or may not represent the views of the electorate. Or they might just be appointed to repay a political favor or donation. For that matter, even elected officials, once elected, don't have to vote the way the people that elected them want them to.

I've been to a zoning commission meeting or two in my life. There are people who speak out, but generally that's a handful of people who are the closest to the issue, e.g. the guy that owns the house next door to that proposed apartment complex. It's generally not what's good for the entire city that they're there for.

I fully understand that's our political process. It's not a matter of what I don't like about it - what DO you like about it? You've said you have no objection to Lowe's coming to Lawrence, you just want the development plan in place to be upheld for that location. My contention was, and remains, that the development plan set down by a planning and zoning commission doesn't have anything to do with the will of the voters unless by random chance.

jafs 5 years ago

I think it's a bit more than random chance.

People vote for candidates based on their platforms - if those candidates act in ways contrary to that, they're unlikely to get re-elected. For example, I voted for Cromwell in the last election - given his consistently pro-business decisions, I am unlikely to do so again - I feel his campaign was disingenuous.

The current city commission is quite pro-business, and makes decisions that way, which is no surprise, and pleases those who voted for them. It displeases the ones who didn't.

I don't understand what you're arguing about.

Is the current system perfect? Of course not. Much of the problem comes from the influence of money at all levels, which I've argued against in the past. I think it would work better if we took the money out of the equation.

Even without the money, there's still the obvious problem that a fairly large minority will not be adequately represented. And other problems as well, like the fact that when we keep swinging back and forth between philosophies, we don't get a good chance to take any sort of long-term approach which has any consistency.

But, what do you propose?

You seem angry about something, but I'm not sure what it is.

jayhawklawrence 5 years ago

What was not mentioned in this article, irresponsibly, is the issue of traffic congestion at this location and the reasons behind choosing this site.

I think Lowe's has merit as a new retail store that could attract more customers from out of town (or keep customers from leaving town) but this location has inherent problems for the city if it goes there.

A very motivated developer would prefer it be built at that site for obvious reasons since they own the land. I think the city has every right to be concerned and needs the authority to make decisions that will protect the community.

To use this issue to bash the city of Lawrence as anti-business is unhelpful to anyone but a newspaper looking to create controversy and sell more papers.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years ago

I'm curious... exactly how many businesses has Kirk run? It's pretty hilarious that Dolph writes a op-ed about Lawrence being anti-business and huge number of posters/LTEs are indeed anti-business while at the same time trying to appear as if they aren't.

jafs 5 years ago

It's a strange thing, that question. He isn't a businessman, he's a professor - his specialization is urban planning, and his argument isn't about whether or not Lowe's would be good for itself. It's whether it would provide a net gain for the city.

A businessman would certainly be able to tell us what factors go into a business decision, and possible pitfalls businesses face.

An urban planner has information and expertise on, ... urban planning, which is what he's writing about.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years ago

No, he has an opinion on urban planning that may or may not be based on the prevailing theories among urban planners. Prima facie his economic arguments are illogical. As you said, one assumes a business knows if it will gain a certain amount of customers when moving into an area. One can logically conclude that it might take customers from another business, but Kirk suggests that a new business will only take customers from other businesses and that the pie - so to speak - will not expand given the same population size (which in itself is a difficult assumption). If that is the case, opening a new, competing business in a "fixed pie" would be incredibly risky. Opening a new location of an existing business would be suicidal. Why would a business want to open a second location in the way the dreaded Wal-Mart did? If there is a finite customer base, opening a second Wal-Mart would only divide that customer base in two. Expanding the first Wal-Mart or building a new location and closing the first would make much more sense. In the case of hardware stores, it makes no sense that local stores would manage to stay in business when Home Depot came in - but, as far as I know, most did.

jafs 5 years ago


I still don't know why you think that a business person is more qualified to discuss city planning than he is.

Perhaps you'd like some other urban planners with different opinions?

And, actually, Wal-Mart has changed their practices because they discovered that putting more stores into a given area often does just split the sales.

Nobody thinks that Lowe's would put a store here if they didn't think they could make a profit - that's not the question here.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years ago

That's not exactly what I said, but I will take the bait (sort of). Kirk has every right to his opinion. His opinion may or may not represent major schools of thought within urban planning. However, whatever is opinion is, he has no liability if he gets it wrong. He is a tenured professor with (I assume) no money involved in this project or any other development projects in Lawrence. Thus, if his opinions turn out to be incorrect in twenty years and Lawrence is even more stagnant after following his opinions, it doesn't really matter to him. The other side of that is the business person who does not have tenure and who can be fired - and often is - for getting it wrong. Returning to my example, had the northern Wal-Mart turned into a failure (as so many expected), the person at Wal-Mart behind the decision can lose his job.

Does Lawrence need a Lowes? No doubt Lowes has market research that suggests there is a demand for another large home improvement store in much the same way Wal-Mart had market research that suggested Lawrence needed another Wal-Mart. It's not up to my tastes to say that simply because I may not be interested in another home improvement store that one shouldn't be allowed to open.

jafs 5 years ago


But you miss the point - cities have an interest in looking at the larger picture, not simply whether one store will succeed or not.

The guy who wants Lowe's to open here, in this particular location, isn't asking the question "Will this be good for Lawrence"?

The only entity that, even in theory, looks at that question, is government. It works imperfectly, and very badly at times, but there is no other place in which the question is even asked.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

"his specialization is urban planning"

his academic specialization is urban planning.

There, fixed that for you.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years ago

I'm sorry for the lack of precision. I was using another poster's language, but the distinction is important. I am not reflexively anti-academic or anti-intelligentsia, but I think in this case it is important because the pseudo-progressives, who claim to represent the local business person, almost always place supposed academic expertise over actual practical experience in a given field. For example, the opinion of a PhD in urban planning who has spent his entire life in a classroom is automatically more important than that of a business person who has spent similar amounts of time in the field working to satisfy the consumer without the benefits of tenure. Then again, when one is discussing economics with people who use consumerism in a pejorative sense (despite their own hypocritical consumerism), one wonders questions the value in the exercise.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

Sorry, it was I that was imprecise - I was replying to jafs' post.

I'm with you on that one, though; as I've been saying in a few posts lately, mostly to do with the selection of political candidates, why do we defer so often to the 'smart' ones who supposedly know better than we do what we want or what's 'best' for us?

I remembering hearing once, long ago, that there was a theory in some architectural circles than when designing a large complex, such as a shopping center, business park, or academic or hospital campus, you shouldn't put sidewalks in until after it's been opened and occupied for a while. Then you put the sidewalks where people have worn down a path already, because that is where they're going to walk!

salad 5 years ago

There are lots and lots of Lowes and and Home Despots in Joco. Tom, Cato, Nota, et al: move to cupcake land! Come to where the giant pick-ups and SUV's roam free! Retail abounds! It's good to be a conservatard there! Leave the filthy hippy infested birkenstock clad Lawrence to fall into a giant wetland!

notajayhawk 5 years ago

I don't live in Lawrence, and rarely shop there anymore. I just like to be amused by folks like you that want your little land of Oz preserved for the 'filthy hippy infested birkenstock clad' Lawrencians. Now that you mention it, it IS a lot like a nature preserve. An archaic and nostalgic peculiarity, but not a very practical place to live.

salad 5 years ago

So you just come here to cause trouble and try and match wits with Bozo? I have to admit, it has been one of the more amusing parts of my morning watching he/she throw you around the room like a rag-doll! Thanks for dropping by.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

So boohoozo is one of your heroes? That who you aspire to be someday, salad? I gave you waaaaaay too much credit. And believe me, it wasn't much to start with.

If you're hoping to someday be the great boohoozo, salad, and aspire to that 17,000-post mark (at least a handful of which, by the sheer laws of random chance, said something intelligent), you're going to have to redefine your concept of 'throwing someone around the room like a rag-doll', as Herr Klowne has replied to exactly two of my posts (despite the number of his I've challenged that he had no answer for), one of which was a tongue-in-cheek, non-responsive, one-word answer. But heck, aim high, salad.

Lindsey Buscher 5 years ago

So gl0ck0wn3r is one of your heroes? That why you aspire to be someday, NAJ? You give the cleverness of your own posts waaaaaay too much credit, NAJ. And believe me, you aren't very clever start with. That is why I "parrot" your posts so everyone gets a chance to laugh twice as hard.

If you're hoping to someday use the word aspire 17,000 times in a post (at least a handful of which, by the sheer laws of random chance, said something aspirational), you're going to have to redefine your concept of 'throwing someone around the room like a rag-doll', as Bozo has replied to exactly two of your posts (despite the number of his you've challenged that he had no answer for because they made no sense or resorted to name-calling), one of which was tongue-in-cheek satire. But heck, aim high, NAJ.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

[Is this dipstick for real? Seriously, when is the LJW going to open a kiddie section so the five-year-olds can have message boards of their own?]

As much as I'm sure this will be too much for your parrot to help you understand, pugs, salad brought up boohoozo, which is why I included him in my reply. I neither mentioned glock, nor does he have 17,000 posts. Really, kid - back away from the pipe before you try to post.

Seriously. I'm sure you'll find a way to make yourself look even worse, but it's hard to imagine how, and it's pretty painful to watch anyone make such an utter fool of themselves.

Lindsey Buscher 5 years ago

POW! Salad 1, NAJ 0.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

jayhawklawrence 5 years ago

John Kenneth Galbraith put it (Wall Street Journal, Jan 22, 1993, C1): "There are two kinds of forecasters: those who don't know, and those who don't know they don't know.''

We seem to have more experts on the economy then at anytime that I can remember. The Republican politicians absolutely know everything about everything and Obama has it all wrong.

The Democrats are like the farmer who prays for rain in the middle of a drout. They spent it all and they are just at the mercy of Yahweh.

The truth is that we need to do our best to allow entrepreneurs to work their magic. We have to be pro-business whenever we can but not stupid. Lowes is a good company. We need not play politics with every company that wants to locate here.

jafs 5 years ago

It's not "playing politics" - it's keeping to the plan for that area that we have in place.

What point is there in planning for the city if we simply abandon those plans any time some developer wants to do something?

notajayhawk 5 years ago

Do we still plan roads with the width of a stagecoach in mind, or have rules on how many hitching posts you should have downtown?

jafs 5 years ago

That's cute.

It hasn't been that long ago that this particular plan was developed, as far as I know.

And, again, why let developers make the rules?

notajayhawk 5 years ago

Hey, boohoozo mentioned Quantrill, so I was just sayin' ...

As to your question, ultimately it's the consumers who should make the rules.

jafs 5 years ago

Then you think we should simply remove all of the planning and zoning work and decisions, and just let anybody build anything anywhere they want, and let the market sort it out?

That's Liberty One's position.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

And it's not a bad idea. Are you afraid the consumerists outnumber you and they might make the city look very different than what you want it to?

jafs 5 years ago


So you think that city planning, etc. should all simply be abolished?

So if someone wants to build a massive apartment complex right next to your house, which forces you to move, possibly have trouble selling your house because of it, that's fine with you?

It's hard to believe you really think that.

And, in Lawrence, we have a diverse population, which includes a large contingent of students, generally short term transient residents without much interest in city planning, long-term thinking, etc.

That's fine, but if they don't inform themselves and vote on local issues, why should they have more/equal sway than those of us who do?

They vote with their wallets in the short term, and have an influence on the local economy - if they want more than that, they can get involved in local politics.

Sometimes it seems that you just argue for the sake of argument.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

Guess what - the transient voters don't only vote with their wallets. They also vote, period. (I've often wondered if Lawrence would be so solidly liberal in their voting were it not for the students.) And if they thought a developer putting an apartment block next door to your house would lead to cheaper/newer/cleaner/more attractive housing for them, you're going to have an apartment block next door. I believe you're correct that they don't take much interest in who's on the planning commission - which means they just pick a name or a party, and your master plan is essentially being developed by random chance.

jafs 5 years ago

Why didn't you answer my question? Would that be ok with you? If you don't like the idea of zoning and planning, then you'd have to accept that whatever will sell will be done, with no other considerations.

And, anytime I've discussed any sort of local politics with students, they have no idea what's going on - none of the ones I talked to about city commission elections were even aware they were happening - and the turnout was abysmal.

If voters pick a party, there are some sort of general principles involved with that.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

"Why didn't you answer my question?"

I would have thought when I said "And it's not a bad idea" it was an answer to your question.

jafs 5 years ago

So you're willing to accept whatever the market will bear - for example, my hypothetical question above?

notajayhawk 5 years ago

Um, how many times do you want me to answer the same question? Because those people that will live in the apartment building have just as much right to live in a home, even in that neighborhood, as I do, jafs.

jafs 5 years ago


That's the first time you answered it.

And, you really wouldn't have a problem with it, even if it meant that your investment in your home might decrease, and you might have trouble selling it, and might have to move due to the noise and trouble with many renting neighbors in what was previously a nice owner-occupied small home neighborhood.

It's hard to believe.

Most of us who buy homes make careful decisions about where we do so, based on concerns like neighbors, noise, etc. My wife and I recently bought a home in a very nice neighborhood, with good neighbors, and mostly owner-occupied homes, with no apartment complexes. If a large apartment complex was built on our block, with the associated problems it's likely to bring, I would be rather upset.

Let's take it a step further - why have distinctions between residential/commercial? It would be ok with you for bars and strip clubs to be built on your block, with all of those associated problems?

I'm sorry, but I have a hard time believing all of these consequences would really be ok with you, if you own your home and made a careful decision about where to buy, and wanted to be there in the medium-long term, and not lose money on your home when you sell it.

jayhawklawrence 5 years ago

My understanding was that these plans are guidelines.

That leaves the door open for open and creative discussions. If we cannot have that, then no plan is going to work very well.

Economic growth is not something you plan like collective farms in the Soviet Union.

jayhawklawrence 5 years ago

I guess I should have said, "were planned in the former Soviet Union."

jayhawklawrence 5 years ago

The best companies and communities always have great sales people.

The problems in Lawrence are sales problems.

Nobody likes a negative salesman.

There are too many negative know it alls and bad sales people in this town.

akt2 5 years ago

We just dropped a few grand at Sears. We were buying regardless of any salesperson. But it turned out to be a pleasant experience because of the salesperson. We chose to shop local and I'm hoping that the continued service will be there. On another note, I was downtown last weekend. I thought the stores smelled old and musty. And I saw a bunch of poor quality crap. The parking was horrendous. The salespeople seemed like robots. I didn't spend a dime.

Clevercowgirl 5 years ago

Here's what burns me about the Lowe's situation: we are being asked to pay for "economic development" out of our tax dollars, and yet we can't allow a quality development in, when it knocks on our door. Instead of saying no, why doesen't the city put some requirements in such as: hiring a certain percentage of local construction workers, use local asphalt and concrete, etc. This will give our local economy a boost, until things get better. Yes, there will be winners and losers arising from Lowe's coming to town; there always are. I just believe that it is incumbent on our local government to do what it can to create more short term jobs. In the business short-term, (3-5 years), new construction and remodling will rebound, but not to the frenzy it was. Opening a store like Lowe's is predicated on the assumption that there will be a regional draw: away from KC and Topeka. As to Home Depot vs. Lowes, the local consumers will benefit from better service and more deals. Both stores could make it in the long run, as several lumber companies went bust early in the great recession. And by the way, I have no interest in engaging in a "is so, is not" quasi-intellectual, my model is better than yours, conversation. Does anyone really think that there is business interest in opening "small box" retail at this time. Let Lowe's in. Something is better than nothing.

GUMnNUTS 5 years ago

Having just remodled my kitchen I spent plenty of time in Home Depot, Lowes, Sears, Best Buy, and others. The quality of cabinets and Home Depot and Lowes were very similar and seemed cheap, so we purchased them from Custom Wood Products out of St Mary's. As for the appliances, right here in town at Stoneback which matched any price from the "big box stores." All profits went to support true Kansas businesses.

Clevercowgirl 5 years ago

Great example. That's how competition should work. Let the buyer choose, and the best business(s) win.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

A very compelling and cogent argument, professor. Perhaps you could help me with a detail I do not understand. It would seem to me that retail is not a singular but a collective of many different elements focused in diverse directions. It would seem to me that if some portions of a market are overbuilt that does not make the market in general overbuilt.

Lowes does not compete with restaurants, bars (probably overbuilt), grocery stores and the like. I would assume, perhaps naively, that the managers of Lowes have determined that there is a market for their products. I presume they are considering new customers from rural Douglas County, Jefferson County and eastern Shawnee County. If they are right, they will bring in new tax revenue. If they are wrong they will fail.

I can understand your argument in the larger context of “growth” where a community has a responsibility to insure that unjust burdens are not placed on existing resources to the gain of new arrivals. I am not sure I see the correlation with respect to Lowes

It would seem to me that a too strict adherence to my understanding of your argument would freeze things as they are. That would seem to me to benefit existing business and residents at the expense of consumers and natural human growth. That does not seem like a desirable approach.

Is there no balance? Who might be the entity to make the decisions as to who can compete and who must not? Is government any better equipped to make those decisions than the “market?”

jafs 5 years ago

Hey - I was wondering if you were still here.

The only possible entity that looks at the bigger picture is government, unfortunately.

Individual stores only look at their own bottom line. Customers only look for the best deals they can find on products they want to buy. Groups like the Chamber of Commerce only look at business interests. Etc.

The only group that is given the task of looking at the big picture is government.

George Lippencott 5 years ago


If government did indeed have the larger picture and the common interest. Unfortunately, my experience suggests that government, elected offiicials and their appointed hoards, have shown me that they are focused on a narrow view - ftrequently driven by a vocal minority.

Perhaps we should go to a referendum so we can find what that portion of the electorate that votes thinks???

We do have a republic where we elect people to act on our behalf but we in turn rarely have an understanding of how the elected will proceed when we elect them.

Hey, I think the answer is we all get our guns and shoot it out and the last people standing decide. (did not spell check)

jafs 5 years ago


I know - it doesn't work as well as it's supposed to - but government is still the only entity that even in theory looks at the big picture.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

Actually, I thought the system was organized to balance competing interests because our founders did not trust government any more than I do.

The thought of central planning takes me to the diaster that was the Soviet Union. They could build a Mig25 but could not get meat to the table.

Government has a role but I am most resistive to a central planning function.

jafs 5 years ago


But the idea of having each state represented and the body as a whole making decisions is that somehow the bigger picture will be looked at - some sort of patchwork combination of the individual interests.

It doesn't work as well as I'd like, in large part because of the influence of money and corporate interests on the process.

funkdog1 5 years ago

The professor did not at all say that Lowe's would fail. He said the exact opposite: that it will likely take business away from Home Depot, Cottin's and Ace, and at least one of those will likely fail, evening out the market and leaving us with not only the cost of a newly built building--including all the access roads, water, sewer and other services it will require--and an empty space where the failed business was, which will likely be one of the Mom and Pop places.

jafs 5 years ago

Good point.

I wonder if there is a source that would give us the costs of the new roads, etc. that would come from existing taxpayer revenue.

Kontum1972 5 years ago

wouldnt it be easier to bring some B-52's & some B-1's to come in and carpet bomb from one end to the other end of the town and ..then just start over....it worked wonders in europe...and japan..

Clevercowgirl 5 years ago

LOL......how about a dog fight, NIMBYS vs. Developers

jayhawklawrence 5 years ago

I hope we don't end up in another lawsuit over this.

Mike Ford 5 years ago

notajayhawk admits to not shopping or living here anymore....can anyone say astroturf......

Practicality 5 years ago

So. Is that a requirement to having an informed opinion? I think not.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

And you live where, again, tuschie?

notajayhawk 5 years ago

And you live where, again, tuschie?

estespark 5 years ago

The simple fact is Lowe's is better than Home Depot. What if Lowe's was here first and Home Depot wanted to build on West 6th Street? Would anyone care if the Planning Commission shot down their proposal? Probably not.

estespark 5 years ago

Four interesting things to consider:

  1. HD stock has generally trended downward for the last 10 years.
  2. Lowes stock has generally trended upward for the same period.
  3. HD's revenues are down 15% over the last 3 years.
  4. Lowes revenues have held steady over the same period.

Lowe's wants to run HD out of town. Which is fine.

BorderRuffian 5 years ago

Before we all bow down to the article's logic, perhaps we ought to take a different look. Perhaps Larryville HAS grown close to retail saturation - for Larryville. But what about all those small towns that surround Larryville that nobody wants to take into account? Towns like Eudora (no Lowes there), Baldwin (no Lowes there), Lecompton (almost no retail there), Perry (Lowes there), Oskaloosa (well at least there's a Meyer Lumber), McLouth, Winchester, Ozawkie, Meriden, Grantville, etc., etc.

Where do all the people in outlying towns go to shop? LARRYVILLE! And most of them want to do a little more than spend the day strolling up and down Mass street buying quaint little Larryville or Jayhawk souvenirs or bar-hopping. If economics is important, might it not be a good thing to develop Larryville's retail centers to draw more bucks into Larryvillain coffers?

I wonder if the genius who wrote the article even stopped to consider the impact of small towns surrounding Larryville? Larryville benefits greatly from the real people who surround the town. An establishment like Lowes, along with offering competition with places like Home Depot, helps draw more people from outside Larryville, which adds nice dollars to the town itself.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Wow, no one ever thought of any of that before. You're a genius.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

What's the basis for your contention that he didn't take it into account?

jafs 5 years ago

Well, he doesn't seem to include the possibility that a new store will draw more customers from outside of Lawrence.

From the "fixed" retail spending idea.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Nearly every analysis of retail sales includes amounts spent by shoppers from other areas, along with "leakage," which would be money spent in places outside of Lawrence.

Given that such analyses are part and parcel to his academic profession, I find it unreasonable to assume that he has failed to take it into consideration.

jafs 5 years ago

It doesn't seem like it.

If a new Lowe's took existing business from HD, stopped some leakage to other Lowe's stores, and also drew more out of town shoppers, then we would have an increase of sales and revenue.

So it wouldn't just be a net zero.

I don't know if that would happen, but it might be a possibility.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

It's certainly a possibility, but there have been numerous studies of the retail situation here, and it's affected by two factors-- we're sandwiched between two regional retail centers, Topeka and KC/OP, and many of the most affluent members of this community commute to those areas to work and therefore have easy access to shopping there, where there are more and larger stores with greater variety, often at lower prices. We can add all the retail space we want, but those factors are unlikely to be affected much.

As far as shoppers from surrounding towns? If you live in Eudora it looks to be about 15 miles to the proposed Lowe's location. That may be somewhat closer than to the KC area locations, but not significantly. Similar situation in Baldwin, and if they're going to come to Lawrence to shop, they'll likely go to Home Depot, anyway. Lecompton is by far the smallest of the three other cities in Douglas County, and for most of their residents, Topeka would still be nearly as convenient as Lawrence, and it still would have much greater retail opportunities in addition to Lowe's.

So would Lowe's increase the number of shoppers from surrounding communities? Probably, but only marginally, and it certainly wouldn't have large enough an impact to base our zoning decisions on it.

Mike Ford 5 years ago

I live in Douglas County. I've worked in Lawrence for 13 years. I lived in lawrence from 1996 to 2004. I see this whole town on my job 22 days a month for the last 13 years. My family has been in Douglas County since 1940. I have a family member that was a mayor of a Douglas County town at one time. I must be doing something right to be called a bigot by people who act bigoted towards a minority president all the time. Deny history, deny the obvious and atttack the person who sees what you really are... priceless...

verity 5 years ago

That's all you've got? Oh, wow.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Kirk McClure Professor

Teaching and Research Interests

* Housing Affordability, Community Development, Real Estate Development

Academic Areas

* Urban Planning

Areas of Expertise

* Housing:  Affordable housing programs and finance
* Real estate development:  Market anaysis, project feasiblity

Courses Taught

* UBPL 710, Introduction to Housing Policy
* UBPL 714, Local Economic Development Planning
* UBPL 742, Quantitative Methods II
* UBPL 764, Real Estate Development Planning


  B. Arch., U. of Kansas, 1973
* B. A, Urban Studies, U. of Kansas, 1974
* Master of City Planning, M.I.T., 1978
* Ph.D., City Planning, U. of California, Berkeley, 1985


* Urban Affairs Association Award for Best Paper Presented, 2004.  Annual Conference of the Urban Affairs Association.
* Fannie Mae Foundation Award for Best Research in Housing, 2002,  Annual Conference of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.
* Fannie Mae Foundation Award for Best Research in Housing, 1997, Annual Conference of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.
* Jack and Nancy Bradley Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1997, School of Architecture and Urban Design, University of Kansas, 1997

Recent publications

  “Monitoring Retail, Office and Industrial Markets,” in Land Market Monitoring for Smart Urban Growth, Gerrit Knaap, editor, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Lincoln Land Institute, pp. 265-286, 2002.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

Hey, merrill woke up!

Those who can, do, merrill. Those who can't ...

Come across anything where he has any real-world experience, by any chance?

By the way, the opinion he expressed in his LTE isn't directly one of his "Areas of Expertise", is it?

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Lawrence has: Home Depot

Cottin's Hardware & Rental www.cottinshardware.com - (785) 843-2981

McCrays Lumber - friendly and knowledgeable 1516 West 6th Street Lawrence 66044 (785) 843-3270

Westlake Ace Hardware (785) 865-2622

Ernst & Son Hardware - Downtown (785) 843-2373

Schmidt Builders Supply Inc (785) 838-9200

Lawrence Winnelson Co 1025 East 23rd Street, Lawrence, KS 66046-5003 (785) 841-6333

notajayhawk 5 years ago

That's okay, they won't for long. There's a Lowe's coming.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

"The revenues from Lowe’s would simply be taken away from other stores. " = a perfect example of economic displacement NOT economic growth.

Home Depot goes out of business = loss of jobs and loss of sales tax revenue = unfriendly to existing business

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years ago

It's pretty amusing to see you defending Home Depot when you fought so hard to keep it out of town. What happened to the argument that all the other businesses would go out of business once Home Depot arrived? Hmmm?

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Lawrence has: Mick and Greg Palmer Cabinet Designers,building and installation

ES Lighting 724 Connecticut www.electricsupplylighting.com Fixtures,celing fans,repair,lamp shades

Paradigm Design 785 840-0313

notajayhawk 5 years ago

And? So what?

As the LTE hypothesizes, those jobs wouldn't be lost, they'd just be moved. Why doesn't Lowe's have a right to build a store and compete with the businesses that are already here? If those stores can't compete, too bad for them, there's a reason for that.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years ago

Because, in a Merrilocracy only central planning and voting among the faux-elites matters. Those are businesses that Merrill likes and thus they are the only ones the proles should patronize.

BorderRuffian 5 years ago

We're not in a Merrilocracy, a democracy, a theocracy, certainly not an aristocracy, perhaps a plutocracy, but absolutely a mediocracy!

jafs 5 years ago


But if lavish tax abatements and CID's are used to encourage new businesses to come here, then they're competing unfairly with local businesses that don't have such advantages.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

All empty buildings are a drag on the taxpayers. They are producing jobs or sales tax revenues. And they may not be producing property taxes IF building owners are granted an unauthorized moratorium.

Sure jobs would be lost. If sales drop staff gets laid off. If Home Depot goes down jobs are lost.

The object of new establishments is NEW economic growth NOT economic displacement

The object of new establishments is new jobs not creating lost jobs and lay off's

The object of new establishments is MORE tax dollars not lost tax dollars due to lost sales elsewhere and/or running a business out of town

Lowe's is looking for local big government tax dollar hand outs and would be part of the Community Improvement District Sales Tax = who wants to pay additional SALES TAXES?

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Empty buildings are NOT producing jobs or sales tax revenue.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years ago

They produce more tax revenue than you.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

There is no proof anywhere that new construction will be bouncing back anytime soon. In fact it is being said that new home starts can no longer be used as a measure of economic growth in this nation for many years to come...according to radio news.

IF Lawrence wants new jobs and more economic growth there are plenty of sidewalks and streets to repair/ replace for at least the next two years. Repairing the existing infrastructure is a worthwhile investment. Maintaining infrastructure is considered fiscally responsible just as maintaining a home is considered fiscally responsible. It is irresponsible to allow existing infrastructure anywhere to go straight to hell.

There is no sense in risking jobs,sales taxes and paying out local big government tax dollar handouts that may never ever come back to taxpayers. Where is the gain?

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Second Stimulus

Op-Ed Contributor Why We Need a Second Stimulus By LAURA TYSON Published: August 28, 2010

By next year, the stimulus will end, and the flip from fiscal support to fiscal contraction could shave one to two percentage points off the growth rate at a time when the unemployment rate is still well above 9 percent. Under these circumstances, the economic case for additional government spending and tax relief is compelling. Sadly, polls indicate that the political case is not.

Two forms of spending with the biggest and quickest bang for the buck are unemployment benefits and aid to state governments. The federal government should pledge generous financing increases for both programs through 2011.

Federal aid to the states is especially important because they finance education. Although the jobs crisis is primarily a crisis of demand, it also reflects a mismatch between the education of the work force and the education required for jobs in today’s economy. Consider how the unemployment rate varies by education level: it’s more than 14 percent for those without a high school degree, under 10 percent for those with one, only about 5 percent for those with a college degree and even lower for those with advanced degrees.

The supply of college graduates is not keeping pace with demand. Therefore, more investment in education could reduce both the cyclical unemployment rate, as more Americans stay in school, and the structural unemployment rate, as they graduate into the job market.

An increase in government investment in roads, airports and other kinds of public infrastructure would be cost-effective, too, as measured by the number of jobs created per dollar of spending. And it would help reduce the road congestion, airport delays and freight bottlenecks that reduce productivity and make the United States a less attractive place to do business.

The American Society of Engineers has identified more than $2.2 trillion in public infrastructure needs nationwide, and a 2008 study by the Congressional Budget Office found that, on strict cost-benefit grounds, it would make sense to increase annual spending on transportation projects alone by 74 percent.

Over the next five years, the federal government should work with state and local governments and the private sector to finance $1 trillion worth of additional investment in infrastructure. It should extend the Build America Bonds stimulus program, which in the past year has helped states finance $120 billion in infrastructure improvement.

More on this story http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/opinion/29tyson.html

notajayhawk 5 years ago

Wow! It's a good thing merrill doesn't ever have anything original to say, and just cross-posts the same spam full of canned links on every thread. Allows him to catch up with his quota quickly when he's been away for a day or two.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

For all that believe it is okay for others to lose their jobs should a Lowe's come to town is being short sighted and insensitive.

Repairing streets and sidewalks creates new jobs without risking jobs and taxes elsewhere. Local spending can increase etc etc.

Again Lowe's is looking for local big government tax dollar hand outs plus being part of the Community Improvement District Sales Tax = who wants to pay additional sales taxes?

notajayhawk 5 years ago

And again you miss the point. According to the LTE writer, there would be no net gain. He said nothing about a loss.

And one more time I'll say: Lowe's has as much right to open a business in Lawrence and offer their products and services to the consumers as the stores that are already here. If they can't compete, if the citizens of Lawrence and the surrounding communities choose to spend their money at Lowe's instead of Home Depot/Westlake/Cotton's/Etc., there's a reason for that, and there's no reason they should survive.

Is it your contention, merrill, that if a business opens in Lawrence that has no competition, and they're selling an inferior product at too-high prices because of that lack of competition, that the city should not allow a competitor to move in just because they were there first?

jafs 5 years ago

As long as they don't receive tax abatements or other inducements, and aren't allowed to use a CID to add a tax for their own use.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

merrill (anonymous) says…

You have an interest in the status quo. Why should we believe anything you write?

As for the professor - he is a learned man. So are others who hold different beliefs.

That is the problem with using "experts" to set public policy. Your end up having to sort them out and in the end the bias that would have been without them wins out because they are seldom definitive.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Shopping malls indoor or outdoor most always become dinosaurs as is evident by all the dinosaurs around the USA. Schools and downtowns hang in there.

Bottom line : this Baur Farms project is a losing deal which never should have been approved. As the letter states there are only so many retail dollars in any town.... Lawrence,Kansas is no different.Tenants are not running to Baur Farms UNLESS they get local big government tax dollars and creative sales tax swindles oops I mean schemes.

Lawrence would have been better off building a Vo-Tech campus, a business school and developing an Art and Design School for those who are NOT KU inclined instead of building and expanding a high tax dollar bedroom community which will never pay for itself.

Education is among the strongest and most reliable industries in the USA. During down times people go back to school,enter school for the first time or perhaps go for the Masters or a PhD.

After graduating college some need VoTech to develop a skill = a good paying job. It's a great combination I'd say.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years ago

And your BA is in what and from where?

nanimwe 5 years ago

I bet you were one of the crowd that insisted on the scaled-down HD in Lawrence, which is why we still have to go to Topeka's HD, or the Lowe's in Topeka to get certain items.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

Really. I assume you have some return on investment numbers about various college degrees. I know that on average college has paid in the past but for whom at what expense? Are those numbers still true? Source should be someone othere than the education establishment

Clevercowgirl 5 years ago

Being the child of two econ. professors, and having grown up in the academic environment, I feel qualified to jump into this discussion. Professors are obviously highly qualified in their areas of expertise. They are experts in theory, and without them, our knowledge as a society in a given subject would not significantly move forward. They are the ones that create and test theories, and help us better understand the world around us.

As we all know, only a small percentage of theories hold true under study, and fewer hold true in practice for a given geographic area. Every area has its own unique demographics and economic variables. While we can probably all agree on certain theories such as supply and demand, and economic cycles, we tend to dissagree on how to manage these variables.

Obviously some planning and zoning is needed to make a city grow in a cohesive, orderly manner. I think that we go astray when we try to impose a lifestyle or set of beliefs as a model for city planning. I don't think it is appropriate or effective for those espousing a walkability, buy local, or low growth model to impose this as a policy on the community. These things are better implemented on a personal level. Imposing rules on who can be in business, or how many of a given type should be in business is playing with fire. We should govern by consensus, not theory.

jafs 5 years ago

What would be "acceptable" ways of providing cohesive and orderly growth?

And, if elected, why isn't is just fine for city officials to espouse any of the above? If they're not representing a majority of voters, then they'll be voted out.

If the community votes, then they won't be "imposed" upon, they'll be represented.

One of the strange things about a college town is that we have a large percentage of short-term transient residents who probably (as a group) don't participate much in local elections. That means to me that they have little interest in the city's planning, growth, long-term outcomes, etc. They vote with their wallets in the short-term.

Why shouldn't those who care enough about our city to get informed and participate in local politics have a say in them? Anybody can do that, if they choose.

Clevercowgirl 5 years ago

Good points. Cohesive and orderly growth is in the eye of the beholder.

jafs 5 years ago

Not exactly the topic here, but,...

The problem you refer to is endemic to a democracy, even with checks and balances - there may always be a minority that isn't directly represented.

Unless, of course, we institute a "power-sharing" form of representation in which all factions get some say - I wouldn't be against that sort of thing in theory, although I think it might be difficult to implement.

And, there are certain Constitutionally guaranteed rights, that cannot simply be voted away.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Any Lowe's that comes to Lawrence will be built for a small town aka downsized. Lowe's will NOT build a KCMO metro size store in Lawrence,Kansas. That means choices will be limited just like Home Depot.

Lawrence does not offer regional buying power it's as simple as that.

Lawrence is surrounded by many many many home improvement store corporations that will provide more choices and maybe better prices.

I believe that KCMO metro is becoming over saturated just like the rest of america. Not only that they building mall areas that resemble the Plaza.

One day residents will wake up and realize they are paying out so much money in taxes to new development that is doing them no good.

What do we need close to home? 1. Grocery store/drug store 2. Gas station or two 3. Hardware store

Why build a new home improvement store in a sea of brand new homes? Are these new homes falling apart?

jafs 5 years ago

Actually, they might very well be, if the quality of new construction is as bad as I suspect it is :-)

nanimwe 5 years ago

Is that what Lowe's has said they would do? As I recall Home Depot wanted a larger store, but it was the social elite of Lawrence that insisted on the smaller store.

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