This coming week is going to be, for lack of a better word, big

From Dan Greenhaus of BTIG, via

“To say this is a “big” week for markets is to say Game 6 of the World Series was “okay.” Around 110 S&P 500 companies report earnings this week, both the ECB and FOMC make interest rate decisions and host press conferences — the first for Mario Draghi in the case of the former — and then oh by the way, the October employment report is released on Friday. Needless to say, each of these occurrences is capable of moving markets on their own. Taken cumulatively and coming on the heels of the surge in global equity markets, this could be a volatile week.”

Memphis, the musical: economic impact of more than $10M

The numbers are in – 26,740 patrons attended the musical “Memphis” at The Orpheum Theatre during its 13-show run that started Oct. 14 and wrapped Oct. 23. According to the Orpheum, the show also had an estimated economic impact of more than $10 million that included ticket sales and purchases by theatre patrons, in addition to the more than 700 cast members and the crew, producers and investors who called Memphis home during the weeks leading up to the debut.

The show is currently slated for an 81-week tour that includes stops in Canada, Japan and London. The Orpheum has scheduled a return of the musical in 2013.

Orpheum president and CEO Pat Halloran described the production – the first international Broadway tour to launch from Memphis – as a “significant event in the life of our city.”

ArtsMemphis, with Regions Bank and Pickler Wealth Advisors, sponsored the musical’s engagement at the Orpheum.

“It’s not every day that a Tony Award winner, bearing the name of your city, launches an international tour from your city,” Halloran said.

Home staging becomes standard in today’s market

A survey by the Real Estate Staging Association recently found that staged homes spent 78 percent less time on the market than the time they spent before staging.

Jeff Ross, owner of Showhomes Memphis, said the entire mindset of home selling has shifted, and investing in home staging to help sell a home has become mainstream.

“I don’t know why a homeowner would choose not to stage a home,” Ross said. “It is a sure way to shorten the sales time and often increases the sales price. It’s the best investment you can make.”

Showhomes Memphis uses live-in home managers to occupy, stage and care for vacant houses while they are on the market for sale.

Here are Showhomes top 10 tips that work for any home:

  1. Start with curb appeal. Potential buyers will drive right by your house if they don’t like what they see. Remove yard toys, bikes or other clutter. Keep the yard mowed and trimmed, re-mulch beds and add flowers for some color.
  2. All buyers pass through the front door – clean and repaint the door if needed, place a healthy plant and new doormat to give it some life.
  3. Pack up everything but the basics. Small decorative items distract from a room and can make a room appear cluttered. Use larger decorative items and fewer pictures.
  4. Cold and shiny floors can be quickly warmed up with tasteful rugs.
  5. Soften the light in a room. Overhead light can make a room appear harsh and unwelcoming. Soft light from table and floor lamps will warm up an otherwise cold-feeling room.
  6. Re-think your wallpaper. Unless the wallpaper is new and neutral, it will likely detract from the way a room feels. Neutral colors are best to repaint with.
  7. Clean out garages and closets. Most buyers search for larger homes and need more space. Crowded garages and closets send a ‘this house is too small’ message.
  8. Less is more in the kitchen. Use a newer coffee pot, a few cookbooks and some colored accent towels to make it appear spacious.
  9. Depersonalize rooms. Pack away family photos, ethnic and religious art. For most buyers, it is easier to visualize a room without distracting personal items.
  10. Invest in staging and a live-in Home Manager to occupy the home. Occupied and staged homes require less of an up front investment from a homeowner and often outsell vacant houses.

Memphis Unemployment Rate Rose in Sept.

The unemployment rate for the city of Memphis rose to 11.7 percent in September, according to preliminary figures released by the state department of labor and workforce development Thursday.

That jobless rate is a full percentage point about the 10.7 percent rate for Memphis in September 2010, and it’s slightly above the 11.4 percent rate for the previous month of August.

Fire – literally and figuratively – at 1835 Madison

Merriam-Webster defines the word, “fire” as, “the phenomenon of combustion manifested in light, flame, and heat.”

That’s certainly what’s taken place at the corner of Madison Avenue and South McLean Street over the past 30 years or so. Light from its glory days, flame from two fires – decades a part – and heat felt from the aftermath.

The property on which Neil’s Bar stood for nearly 20 years at 1835 Madison Ave. is owned by Don McCormack and Ceylon Blackwell. A fire destroyed Neil’s in August, leaving only the foundation.

Blackwell said the “most successful renter” of the former 7,373-square-foot space was Bill and Jim’s Restaurant, which was housed there until the late 1980s. That venture too ended as a result of a fire before Neil’s took over in the early 1990s.

A restaurant is not the highest and best use for that property, Blackwell said. But the economics weren’t even an issue until post-fire discussions.

Here’s an excerpt from my Blackwell interview that didn’t make it into Thursday’s story. More or less – it’s nothing personal, it’s just business.

“The fire obviously got the thing started, I wasn’t planning on doing anything else with the building,” Blackwell said. “When the fire happened, it made us look at what we wanted to do. The insurance company would either pay us a sum, and it was not the full insurance sum, they depreciated it somewhat. But they would pay us an amount of money – a lesser amount if we’re going to demolish it, a great amount if we’re going to rebuild it. But rebuilding it was not very smart because you’re not going to increase the value of the building. So, we just decided to take the insurance money and sit on it for a couple of years maybe and put it on the market and sell it. Neil’s was a good tenant. Neil is a good guy and I hate that I couldn’t rebuilt it, but it just didn’t make sense.”

As far as marketing, Blackwell will cross that bridge when he comes to it.

“I really haven’t thought about it,” he said. “Right now, it’s down the road. Gee, I don’t start worrying about things until it gets a little closer to what I’m going to do.”

Whatever the outcome, I sure hope the new user has firewalls.