Archive for Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Town Talk: Golf USA going out of business; Hibachi Grill to open today; news on Lawrence Lowes darkens further; roundabout closure on tap

October 18, 2011


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News and notes from around town:

• Not many things last longer than a Chad Lawhorn golf game, but the run that Lawrence’s Golf USA has had is on that list. For 16 years the golf equipment store at 33rd and Iowa has been serving golfers and hackers alike. That will end at the end of this month. Owner Kyle Taylor is closing the store after new owners of the building did not renew his lease. Taylor said he searched for a new location, and found several spots in town that would have been suitable. But in the end, he decided with the current economy that now may not be the best time to re-open the store.

“The economy has not treated the golf industry well,” Taylor said. “A lot of people are playing less now or have just given up the game.”

Taylor said the sport is really getting hit from two sides of the equation, both money and time. The sport isn’t cheap, and it isn’t quick to play. Taylor said the fact that many people are working longer hours these days has made the game tough even for people who have the money to play.

But Taylor is confident the game will bounce back when the economy does. He is staying in the industry with his own putter business. Taylor is the founder and managing partner of Tall Face Putters. The company is working to get a national distribution deal for a newly invented putter that — you guessed it — has a taller face. The taller face, Taylor said, is the key to hitting the “sweet spot” of the putter. (And here I thought a six pack of Coors Light was the key to all things in golf.) Taylor recently signed a deal with an overseas manufacturer that produces many of the top putters in the game. He expects to have models available for sale online and through area pro shops by the end of the year. Taylor expects Golf USA’s last day of business to be on or before Oct. 29.

• As for what is going into the Golf USA building, I’m not quite sure yet. Taylor said the new owners of the building did not share that information with him. But in talking with some folks in the commercial real estate industry, they said there was a tenant on the hook for the space. I’ll let you know when I hear more.

• Golfers won’t have to go far to bury their sorrows in crab rangoons and egg rolls. (My wife is suddenly thinking about taking up golf.) The Hibachi Grill Supreme Buffet opens up today in the shopping center just north of the Golf USA site. The new restaurant — which is in the same shopping center as Bed Bath and Beyond, Kohls and other retailers financed by my checking account — is an all-buffet business. But the buffet includes a grill where a chef will prepare meat and vegetables for you while you watch, said manager Alan Chang. Prices for lunch are $6.95 for adults, while the dinner buffet is $9.95. Here’s hoping that the nearby T.J. Maxx puts its elastic waistband collection on special.

• More information about Lowe’s and its chances of landing a store in Lawrence. It looks like Lawrence’s chances have been cut at least in half of becoming a site for the home improvement retailer. On Monday, the company released a statement to investors saying it was closing 20 underperforming stores in 15 states, and confirming it had “discontinued a number of planned new store projects.” Last week we reported that local officials said that Lowe’s had decided to put the proposed Lawrence project — slated for the area near Sixth and Wakarusa — on hold until after the end of the year. The statement from Lowe’s sounds a bit different. Even if Lawrence does get back in the mix, it will have to compete harder to get a green light from Lowe’s officials. The company announced it plans to build 10 to 15 stores a year for the foreseeable future. That is down from about 30 stores a year previously.

• Cheer up. I have news of a roundabout. What’s more fun than the roundabout at Harvard and Monterey Way? How about the roundabout at Harvard and Monterey Way with a backhoe in the middle of it. No, don’t get excited. They’re not tearing it out. There’s a nasty waterline break beneath the roundabout. Northbound traffic on Monterery Way and westbound traffic on Harvard will not be allowed through at least Friday. The roundabout will technically be open to southbound traffic, but I would steer clear of the area, if possible.

• File this one under the category of dignitary dog. When Marty Kennedy became Lawrence mayor in 1998, he received a gift of a Labrador puppy named Mayor. The dog accompanied Mayor Kennedy to most ceremonial events such as ribbon cuttings, parades, downtown celebrations, and likely ran the city in Marty’s absence from time to time. Well, the Kennedys report that Mayor died recently. He was nearly 14 years old. I just thought I would pass it along. I can honestly say I’ve seen many types of beasts come through Lawrence City Hall, but I believe Mayor was the only one of the four-legged, tongue wagging variety. (Well, it depends on how you define tongue-wagging.)


ilovelucy 6 years, 7 months ago

Very sad about Mayor. But, Chad, you constantly amuse me with your witty repartee.

Frank A Janzen 6 years, 7 months ago

Sometimes the witty repartee gets in the way of my need to know the story, and I skip over it to get to the gist. Other times, it's fine.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

Why would Lowe's want to open one more underperforming store?

Lawrence is an underperforming market due to floods aka overloading the market.

DillonBarnes 6 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, I'm not sure if you can read or not, but they said they were not building the store at the moment.

So, currently, they aren't opening an "under-performing" store.

DillonBarnes 6 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, I'm not sure if you can read or not, but they said they were not building the store at the moment.

So, currently, they aren't opening an "under-performing" store.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

Home Depot is still in town as is McCray's on sixth street. Plus local hardware stores and a number of lumber yards.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

If the local retail market were a hot number the store would move forward likely without tax dollar handouts?

Why should Lowe's receive a leg up over the existing group of stores with a big box entitlement? It's a good way to put others out of business.

DillonBarnes 6 years, 7 months ago

I never cease to be amazed by some people.

Ashley Woodward 6 years, 7 months ago

Does anyone know what is being built close to Taco Bell on 6th Street by Freestate? Looks like a fast food restaurant.

BritAbroad 6 years, 7 months ago

Ahh, just what Lawrence is short of at the moment, a fast food joint. Form an orderly line.

DillonBarnes 6 years, 7 months ago

Sort of,

They closed the one on 23rd to open this one.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

The junk food plaza grows BUT will there be enough people to support this plaza that which is backed by a higher sales tax = never ending profit for the developers. It is in the hands of the consumers. Most likely the super sales tax plaza is depending on high schoolers who have no idea what is going on = predator takes down the victims.

parrothead8 6 years, 7 months ago

When a retailer needs economic incentives to make it worth opening a store in an area, that means there's not a drastic need for that type of business in the area. If they were going to do great business here, they'd be here already.

DillonBarnes 6 years, 7 months ago

I don't think they ever officially asked, but they unofficially discussed it.

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

The first time, they wanted to build a store too large for existing zoning requirements, in an area that was slated for an extra sales tax.

Next time, they wanted to build a store too large for existing zoning.

I wonder why they can't seem to build a store in compliance with zoning regulations.

Bruce Rist 6 years, 7 months ago

Thanks Kyle for your support of golf in Lawrence, your store will be missed more than you know.

jesse499 6 years, 7 months ago

I agree thanks Kyle for the years of taking care to treat your customers so well that we would not go any place else others could learn from the way you ran your store.

Naismith24 6 years, 7 months ago

How about the city post some signs so people don't turn down Monterey Way to find out the round about is closed until you are on top of it???

bornon7 6 years, 7 months ago

Jon Zylstra, the only PGA Professional in town, is a really nice guy. He owns his own shop (small business) and can get great deals on clubs, etc. He is at Lawrence Country Club. Non members are welcome. I bought a set of junior clubs from him and my son is doing great with them.

jesse499 6 years, 7 months ago

And if there's not one in the US your going to sign with who? It's not like cars were you have more of a choice American are whoever.

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