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Posts tagged with Eudora

Lawrence’s retail sales up 2.1 percent for first quarter

In case you had forgotten, today — April 15 — is tax day. But I hear that a high-ranking federal official will be in town on Friday, so perhaps you could save yourself some postage and just ask him to take it back to D.C. with him.

Let me know how that goes.

In the meantime, let’s talk taxes of a different type. The city of Lawrence now has received sales tax revenue through the first quarter of 2013, and the city’s retail sales totals are showing growth over and above what was a robust 2012.

Through the March report, the city has tallied $354.1 million in retail sales, up 2.1 percent from the same period a year ago. In case you are scoring along at home, these totals don’t represent sales actually made from January through March. The state’s reporting system has a lag, so these totals represent sales made in late 2012 up to about mid-February.

If you are looking for a reason to be negative ( and why wouldn’t you, it is tax day), the city’s March numbers are down about 1.2 percent from March 2012 numbers. But worrying about one month’s worth of sales tax numbers would be like me worrying about my wife buying $150 worth of leftover Easter candy. It's just something that happens in life.

If you are really looking for a reason to be negative (geez, how much do you owe the federal government?), you also could point to the fact that the city’s sales tax collections are growing more slowly than they did a year ago. But that may just be you being a grump because the city posted a blistering growth rate of 5.24 percent in 2012, which was the city’s best retail growth since 1998. Over the past five years, the average growth rate of retail sales in Lawrence has checked in at 1.8 percent. So, the first quarter was about average.

Compared to other places in the state, Lawrence’s performance in the first quarter was mixed. Statewide, retail sales grew by 3.7 percent. Here’s a look at some of the larger retail markets in the state:

• Overland Park: up 1.2 percent

• Olathe: up 4.9 percent

• Kansas City: up. 6.3 percent

• Topeka: up 1.3 percent

• Emporia: up 3.5 percent

• Salina: up 1.7 percent

• Hays: up 5.0 percent

• Manhattan: down 4.0 percent

(Look what happens when your football team goes to a bowl game. Everybody leaves town and spends their money somewhere else. I knew KU football knew what it was doing all along.)

A little closer to home, here’s a look at totals for some smaller communities around Lawrence. But take these figures with a grain of salt. The totals are often so small that it takes only a few dollars to produce a sizable change.

• Baldwin City: up 5.5 percent

• De Soto: down 5.9 percent

• Ottawa: up 7.7 percent

• Tonganoxie: up 8.1 percent

• Eudora: up 16 percent. I actually did the math on that one, and the increase represented an extra $1 million in retail spending during the first quarter. Eudora has been running an aggressive “buy local” campaign, with signs everywhere in town. So maybe that it is it, or perhaps my wife simply found a leftover Easter egg candy outlet in Eudora.

And finally, it wouldn’t be a sales tax article unless I got out my inflation calculator. (You should see the size of that thing.) Here’s a look at Lawrence’s retail sales totals since 2008 — just prior to the financial crisis. The numbers in parentheses are the total adjusted for inflation, in order to give you an idea of how much retail sales have grown above and beyond inflation.

• 2013: $354.1 million

• 2012: $346.6 million ($350.4 million)

• 2011: $333.2 million ($343.9 million)

• 2010: $309.1 million ($329.1 million)

• 2009: $327.9 million ($354.8 million)

• 2008: $334.7 million ($360.9 million)

So, we haven’t quite rebounded back to the levels seen prior to the financial crisis, but we’re very close. And we clearly have bounced backed from the lows of 2010.

If you want more analysis than that, you are going to have to do it on your own. I’ve got breakfast to eat — Cadbury eggs and chocolate bunnies, of course.

Reply 14 comments from Jafs Bigal Oneeye_wilbur Ibroke Chootspa Gotland Merrill Appleaday Tolawdjk Lawrenceguy40 and 3 others

New microbrewery planned for downtown Eudora

It’s beginning to make a little more sense.

Perhaps you are not like me and you don’t spend a good part of the year wondering why Winnie the Pooh acts so dang strange. Perhaps you also don’t have a spouse who fills your home with the odd little bear every holiday season. (You don’t know what you’re missing out on.)

Well, word of a potential new business has given me a clue why that dumb-dumb is always getting his head stuck in a bee hive: Mead.

Yeah, mead. A new business venture is betting you are not familiar with the alcoholic beverage, which is made of … fermented honey.

Work is underway to build a new microbrewery in downtown Eudora that will offer a variety of craft beers but also will be one of the few facilities in the region to produce mead.

Area residents John Randtke and James Hightree are teaming up to open the Wakarusa Brewery in the coming months.

As anyone who has listened to me on a Saturday night can attest, that when I combine stories and beer, the details can get a little fuzzy. That’s the case here too. I chatted briefly with Randtke, and he said he hopes the business will be open by the fall, but said it could get pushed to early next year.

The business has signed a deal to purchase a long vacant building in the 700 block of Main Street in downtown Eudora. If you are familiar with that bustling thoroughfare, is the old vacant antique store building kind of across the street from the post office.

The building needs significant work, but Randtke has been through those type of projects before. He’s a mechanical design engineer for a local company that works to make buildings more energy efficient.

“We’re going to try to make it a small-town pub feel,” Randtke said of plans for the building. “I want it to be a quiet place where folks can go hang out and have a drink.”

But make no mistake, brewing will be the main activity at the building. About two-thirds of the building will be devoted to the brewing process.

Randtke said he and Hightree, who will serve as the day-to-day brewmaster, will specialize in making strong IPAs and stout, hoppy brews.

And, of course, there will be the mead. Randtke said he’s not aware of any restaurants or bars in the area that are serving locally produced mead, but he said the idea is catching on in some larger cities, like Chicago.

Technically, state regulators don’t consider mead a beer, and so Wakarusa Brewery will have to get a winery license to produce the beverage. But that has an advantage, Randtke said, because a new state law allows wineries to get a license to sell their products at farmers markets and such. That is part of the company’s future plans.

As for what to expect when you get that first chalice of mead (I don’t know why, but that’s what I expect my mead to be served in), it could be a little bit of anything. Randtke said meads can take on all different types of flavors. Some commercial meads have strong flavor patterns of cinnamon or vanilla, and many are pretty sweet. Randtke said he plans to make several drier varieties.

I think I would ask Winnie the Pooh what he likes. He might be a good customer. On second thought, I’m not sure he’s the type you really want around in a bar. With a last name like his, he’s bound to get into a lot of bar fights.

Reply 6 comments from Msezdsit Chad Lawhorn Jaime Baggett Karl_hungus Buffalo63 Hooligan_016 Pikespeakjhawk