Wanting what you’ve got

With all the bad news around at the moment, lawmakers squabbling, the U.S. Treasury looking for loose change in the sofa to keep the country’s lights on, sometimes it feels good to just step back and appreciate what you have.

With that in mind, read this piece by a Boston Globe writer about her first visit to Memphis a few weeks ago.

Sometimes, it’s just nice to read what people who come to your hometown for the first time have to say – when your city is as consequential yet misunderstood as Memphis.

Bookstores: Survival of the Fittest

It’s perhaps the most fundamental concept of any effective business model – adaptation.

Adapt to market conditions, adapt to gains and losses, adapt to branding efforts.

Halfway through 2011 with brick-and-mortar bookstores dropping like flies, the ones that want to stay afloat better adapt and better adapt fast, said Scott Barton of CB Richard Ellis’ retail division.

“The ones who survive are going to have to have a niche,” he said. “They’ll be less about selling books as they are about other things.”

The Booksellers at Laurelwood (formerly Davis-Kidd) does a good job of that already, Barton said, with Bronte, their Vera Bradley and greeting card section, and a very large book reading area. Still, the future is far from certain.

“In order to make it, (bookstores) have had to have some concessions from landlords just to be able to survive,” Barton said. “Even the right formula is not a guarantee for success. That’s why I think we’ll have sort of a new normal. You can go to Amazon.com and get a better selection than any bookstore, so if you’re just going to get a book, increasingly I think people will go elsewhere.”

For more on bookstore real estate, click here.

Haslam heading to NY to meet with credit ratings agencies

Tenn. Gov. Bill Haslam is flying to New York in September to meet with major credit ratings – the same agencies that a few days ago threatened to downgrade Tennessee’s debt if Uncle Sam gets slapped with a downgrade.

It’s part sales job – making the case for why Tennessee deserves to keep its pristine credit rating – and Haslam told Tnreport.com he’s perfectly content to wait until September to make the trip.

If he did it now, it would be in the midst of distracting chaos, he said.

Tennessee holds a Triple-A rating from two of the three major rating agencies and a Double-A rating from the other.

Accompanying Haslam for the New York presentation will be state officials like state Comptroller Justin Wilson, Treasurer David Lillard, Secretary of State Tre Hargett and finance commissioner Mark Emkes, according to Tnreport.com.

Tennessee will be able to sell points like its strong cash reserves and that it’s constitutionally required to maintain a balanced budget.


U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen had strong words for Republicans in a telephone town hall Tuesday night the Memphis congressman hosted for constituents.

He suggested that by not addressing the “domestic enemy” in the form of a brutal recession, that Tea Party Republicans might be forsaking their oath of office.

Cohen also said President Obama’s stimulus bill wasn’t as big as it should have been. He took Republicans to task for saying the bill was ineffective and that 40 percent of the bill was in the form of tax cuts needed to secure Republican votes.

“You can’t have one arm tied behind your back” in addressing these problems, Cohen said.

As if the impasse over raising the debt ceiling isn’t enough – ending the day Tuesday means the U.S. is now less than a week away from hitting Treasury’s drop-dead date of Aug. 2 with no clear plain in sight – there’s something else to consider.

It wasn’t mentioned on Cohen’s call. But remember the narrowly avoided federal government shutdown a couple of months ago?

The government barely hashed out a plan to fund the federal government through the end of the current fiscal year, which just so happens to be … September.

From one crisis, to another, eh?

A pretty newsy blog post

Talk about an interesting 24 hours for Memphis.

To recap:

One of the city’s major health care employers lost its president and is in the midst of a major restructuring.

The largest locally owned accounting firm in the city has been acquired and is under new ownership effective Aug. 1

Another of the city’s major health care employers is rolling out a new identity.

The parent company of Memphis investment bank Morgan Keegan trickled out a few details about MK’s future Tuesday.

To stay on top of these and the rest of the city’s business, political and general interest news, check www.memphisdailynews.com every day and throughout the day for updates; our print edition; our Facebook page; our blog, at http://blog.memphisdailynews.com/, and our Twitter accounts (@memphisdaily and @tdnpols).