Advertisement

Archive for Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Town Talk: Penny Annie’s Sweet Shop to close; sales tax collections up by nearly 4 percent in city; supporter of guns on campus bill thinks 2012 may be the year

June 7, 2011

Advertisement

Subscribe to the Town Talk email edition

Subscribe to the email edition of Town Talk and we'll deliver you the latest city news and notes every weekday at noon.

News and notes from around town:

• Well, there is nothing sweet about this. A downtown institution is closing later this month. An owner of Penny Annie’s Sweet Shop confirmed to me that the store plans to shut down during the last weekend of June. It will bring to a close a business that has been operating in Lawrence for 32 years, with the last 25 of them at its location at 845 Mass. Owner Monica Bowers-Istas said sales have been struggling for the past four years. Some of it, she said, is related to the overall economy. But she also believes the business’ troubles can be traced to the trend of fewer traditional retailers in downtown.

“We just don’t have the foot traffic anymore,” she said.

She said when downtown had a larger mix of eclectic shops and stores, her business was more likely to get walk-in traffic from shoppers who decided they needed to treat their sweet tooth.

She also said the fact the store doesn’t own the building it is in at 845 Mass. made it more difficult to keep the business open.

“If we owned the building, we probably could hang in there a little longer, but rents in downtown are difficult,” she said.

No word yet on what may go into the location.

Bowers-Istas, though, is betting that it won’t be anything more fun than what she has done for the last 23 years.

“It is hard to leave because my kids have grown up here,” she said. “And when you are selling candy, you are always making people happy.”

• Other businesses, though, may have reason to take heart. There are signs that spending in Lawrence is starting to pick up. Through the first five months of the year, the city’s sales tax collections are up 3.7 percent — or about $410,000 from the same time period a year ago. That’s a big number for Lawrence, given that the last two years have produced declines in sales tax collections. But city budget makers are still urging caution in evaluating the numbers. The threat of a setback is still possible with rising energy costs and relatively high unemployment still major parts of the overall economy. The city’s finance office projects that, despite the good news for the first five months of the year, sales tax collections may still be about $90,000 short of the city’s budget at year end.

• As I told you I would, I checked in with the Kansas Attorney General’s office related to some concealed carry legislation that we discussed in Town Talk last week. Here's that article. The A.G. is awful mum on the subject of what he thinks the state’s concealed carry laws ought to be. But I also talked to State Rep. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, who is not mum about his plans to get a concealed carry bill passed that would make it easier to carry a weapon at KU and other public facilities. Knox has legislation waiting for the 2012 session that would allow concealed carry permit holders to bring their weapons into any public facility, unless the facility provides adequate security measures like electronic scanners that would search everyone for weapons. If passed, that would mean buildings at KU, City Halls, Parks and Recreation centers and lots of other places would be areas where concealed carry permit holders could bring their weapons. Currently, all those places can put up a no guns sign that stops permit holders from bringing their weapons. Knox thinks next session is his best chance to get the bill passed. It previously has won approval in the House, but has not gotten very far in the Senate. But the 2012 session will be an election year session for the Senate. Knox said his bill is popular with people across the state, and senators are smart enough to know that.

“Some of the Senate leaders didn’t speak very kindly of it this year, but I have found the Senate seems to act a little differently in election years,” Knox said.

• We previously reported that a Lawrence law office was moving into office space in the Hobbs Taylor Lofts building at Eighth and New Hampshire streets. But we didn’t know which law firm. Now we do. The local firm of Fagan, Emert & Davis will move from its offices in the US Bank Tower to the Hobbs Taylor building in September, state Rep. Paul Davis, who is a partner in the firm, told me.

Comments

Sara Garlick 2 years, 10 months ago

OMG NO! I love Penny Annie's. I hate the fact that downtown is turning into nothing but bars & restaurants. Lawrence is slowly dying. All of the small unique shops is what brought ppl to here. This is not JoCo w/ corporate restaurants and strip malls. This isnt Austin Texas where 6th st is nothing but bars. This is lawrence! How can the City Commission allow this? What kickbacks are they receiving??

0

Pitt_Mackeson 2 years, 10 months ago

Jeez never thought I'd see the day when Penny Annie's closed. You just can't get any more downtown Lawrence than that place.

0

demonfury 2 years, 10 months ago

Kawatchi said it best. I just finished reading the comments and realized that no one was talking about the undesirable population downtown. The story indicates that the shop owner attributes the decline in part to reduced foot traffic. I would venture to guess that is in part due to Lawrence being the riff-raff mecca of Kansas. Let the panhandlers run rampant and watch your sales dwindle. When will they learn?

0

Kawatchi 2 years, 10 months ago

I am guessing the increase in drifters, panhandlers and hobos in downtown Lawrence hasn't helped business in the last few years.

0

Clancy99 2 years, 10 months ago

Concealed carry?!?! Does that mean they will have to take down all the no-gun signs on campus?! I mean come on - that's the only thing keeping murdering psycho's from going on murdering rampages!!!!!!!

I'm sure jafs and merrill are with me on this.

0

ilovelucy 2 years, 10 months ago

Merrill always blames the Chamber for everything wrong in this town. The Chamber does not have a monopoly to set rental prices downtown.
Why don't you join the Chamber, Merrill, if you want to make a difference? Your constant cut and paste is annoying beyond belief.

0

prospector 2 years, 10 months ago

Kansas, boxers or briefs?

"It seems to me that you were not complaining about losing freedoms or having anything forced down your throat. It seems to me that you were just calling people names and belittling folks because you do not share their views. Most of your posts seem to follow this theme.'

Autie has posted he lives in the nether regions of SE Kansas these peckerwoods represent so you have not read most of his posts. The man knows a dingleberry when he sees one.

"all people" I would guess that most on here are of the higher side of the curve but just in case:

0

autie 2 years, 10 months ago

First it is all other people. I qualified with many other people. (which is somewhat elusive) Now it is just other people. I think you may have cleared up the whole dilemma. Oh, poop stain.

0

orangechubb 2 years, 10 months ago

Knowing that you are smarter, more clever, or more enlightened than other people only makes you look foolish.Your level of intelligence is only a matter of your own opinion. It seems to me that you were not complaining about losing freedoms or having anything forced down your throat. It seems to me that you were just calling people names and belittling folks because you do not share their views. Most of your posts seem to follow this theme. Keep those clever posts coming, they do make me smile sometimes.

0

autie 2 years, 10 months ago

I may not be more enlightened than all other people but I am more enlightened than many people. And what is so anti freedom in complaining about those who would take away my freedoms and force their own theocratic dogma down my throat?

0

sissezz 2 years, 10 months ago

wow... i have always loved Penny Annies...BUT, i agree with the previous posts.... the hours were terrible.

0

autie 2 years, 10 months ago

First, you need to understand that Forrest Knox it all is just another neo conservative psuedo christian rubber stamp legislator much like Helicopter Peck or that Bill Otto character from the Neosho River. He thinks he is a crusader for right and justice but in truth he is just another dingle berry on the hind quarter of Kansas.

0

average 2 years, 10 months ago

I really don't much care either way on the concealed gun question. Plenty of them in circulation in those buildings anyway.

However, Forrest Knox is a chicken on the matter, though, in exempting his own public workspace. If he'd simultaneously take down the expensive taxpayer-paid magnetometers and full-time security detail at his office (we've got concealed carry after all, and all the 60-something legislators are such crack shots, why do we need all the uniforms?), then he'd have more of a leg to stand on. Why is his lilly arse more valuable than that of any faculty, staff, or student at KU or K-State?

0

The_Original_Bob 2 years, 10 months ago

"What's with the gun comments?" Stedman

I see you are sort of knew here. Make yourself a drink, pull up a chair and enjoy. Should be fun.

0

sherbert 2 years, 10 months ago

Very sad to see them go. We always like to stop in when we're downtown. Seems to me though that foot traffic is better than ever downtown. Are they not open in the evenings? Town is always bustling then. Gotta take advantage of all the hours. Actually, seems like the popcorn business they do at Christmas would be enough to keep them open. It's SO good, and SO expensive. They sure do sell a lot though!

0

Stedman 2 years, 10 months ago

What's with the gun comments?

0

Bob Forer 2 years, 10 months ago

Sad to see Penny Annies go. A true small family-run business. The rent she is paying is probably outrageous. Right near the corner of the heart of downtown--Ninth and Massachusetts--probably rents for around $3,500 per month. You gotta sell a lot of ice cream to make a profit at those rents.

0

pizzapete 2 years, 10 months ago

I'm sorry to see Penny Annies go, too. It seems that businesses selling booze, KU t-shirts, or expensive hamburgers are the only ones able to afford the over inflated rents downtown. And more law offices and architecture firms moving in aren't going to help the poor retail situation.

0

RogueThrill 2 years, 10 months ago

If I run into anyone carrying a gun on campus I am going to tackle and subdue that idiot and yell for someone to call the cops. I am not going to bother asking to see a permit. They had better conceal it well.

Guns on campus is easily one of the dumbest ideas gun fans have ever had.

0

William Weissbeck 2 years, 10 months ago

If carrying a "big gun" floats your boat, so be it. But a doctor friend of mine pointed out that if you own a handgun you are more likely to be shot by it by your spouse than you are to use it on a buglar.

0

guesswho 2 years, 10 months ago

I will be sad to see them close, but the kitchen help hasn't always been, well, helpful. Also too bad the kitchen isn't open on Sundays, last year they could have done quite well during the 4th of July bike races.

0

Sean Rudisel 2 years, 10 months ago

My kids just about went into full riot mode when I told them the store closing. Very, very disappointing.

0

gatekeeper 2 years, 10 months ago

If she wanted to increase business - she could have made a killing if she was open later. Sweets from her shop would be nice after dinner and college students would love to binge on sweets after a night of drinking or staying up late studying (remember old Joe's Bakery?). I'm sad to see the shop close, but to stay in business you sometimes have to modify your business plan to fit the current people visiting downtown.

0

clovis_sangrail 2 years, 10 months ago

Drat! The one place downtown you could walk in the back and use the restroom without getting any hassle from the employees or having to climb over piles of boxes. And a relatively clean restroom, too.

0

he_who_knows_all 2 years, 10 months ago

She sure didn't lose any money from remodeling in the last 23 years.

0

d_prowess 2 years, 10 months ago

Again, comments from a downtown shop owner that are not based in any facts, just their speculation. Perhaps business has declined because people are eating less bulk sweets. Maybe not, but it is just as possible as their opinion.

0

cj123 2 years, 10 months ago

I loved Penny Annie's haystacks! They were pretty expensive but they were so good! I also liked getting their chocolate covered expresso beans. Maybe I should go get some before they close!

0

oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 10 months ago

I appreciate the comment made about traditional retailers. You see, JCPenney, Woolworth's, Sherwin Williams, Montgomery Ward, Ben Franklin, those are traditional retailers and the very "chain stores" that some complain about.

I would bet when JCPenney was downtown more shoppers at that store went to Pennie Annie's than from the antigue mall.

Good luck to Monica and her family and they will do fine with relocation.

About sales tax going up or did the cost of the purchases go up? Does Chad know?

It is fact, that one pays sales tax on coffiin/caskets . Maybe the sale of caskets has been greater in Lawrence. Now there is a topic for cub reporter to follow up on? Just how money comes from the sale of caskets. And don't forget, that tax on your coffin is still funding the T.

Lawrence is really special, it really is!

0

Andini 2 years, 10 months ago

Another local shop? So sad.

0

Richard Heckler 2 years, 10 months ago

Too bad the Chamber of Commerce or NOT COMMERCE does not support the downtown membership.

Instead they keep coming up with ideas that kills downtown. They are always ready to give our tax dollars away to the moochers who come to town. And the moochers who live in the area.

They believe moving real estate for the "insiders" is far more important than maintaining a strong tight knit economy that pays for itself everyday.

High rent is unfriendly to business!

Inflated property values is unfriendly to business!

Inflated property taxes is unfriendly to business!

Economic Displacement is unfriendly to business!

The chamber and MD Management is unfriendly to taxpayers!

The local real estate industry is unfriendly to business and taxpayers!

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.