State trying to lure tourists from Texas via Walmart TV
Garden & Gun and a Top 25 list Arkansas didn’t want to make
Why not take a trip? A trip close to home? How about a trip to Arkansas? Let’s all hope the state’s tourism czar, Joe David Rice, has place a winning wager. Rice is betting a large portion of his $12 million ad budget on Walmart shoppers in Texas. The state is now running spots on Walmart TV in south Texas to try and lure them to the Natural State for a little vacation. Walmart TV is the blaring TV screen near the checkout registers. Let’s hope Rice and CJRW, the Little Rock ad agency that handles the money, are on target. More than $558.9 million was spent statewide in 2008 on lodging, camping, theme parks and marinas. Our northwestern corner of the state accounts for a little more than a quarter of the total tourism tax collected.
Quick call the out-of-state relatives and tell ‘em to visit Arkansas and bring their loose change with them. Oh, but for a water park in the region…wait it is only February. Surely someone will come out with a plan soon for a water park. It happens almost every year.
BIG QUESTION: Have trouble sleeping? What percentage of married American adult couples sleep in separate beds? (Answer at the end of this column)
GARDEN & GUN
There was a nice spread in this month’s issue of the slick southern magazine Garden & Gun about Fayetteville poet Miller Williams and his daughter, the Grammy winning Lucinda, who will be in town for a concert this week. The feature focuse on their reading and singing shows. One of the first such duets was here in Fayetteville.
Well it was a Top 25 list that Arkansas really didn’t want to make. Arkansas has the distinction of ranking twenty-second in the nation in the number of foreclosures. In upscale Benton County one in every 199 homes faced foreclosure. In Washington County it’s about one in every 345 homes. Yikes.
Looks like the loosest slots are down in Hot Springs. In January, Oaklawn Race Track (where the ponies run) paid about $17.1 million to gamblers on $18.08 million in wagering, or roughly a 94.5 percent payout. At Southland Greyhound Park (where the canines race in West Memphis), betting was $34.8 million, payouts $32.8 million and the percentage was about 94.3 cent.
Yes, Virginia, Walmart has laid off some 700 to 1,000 folks right here in NWA. Never thought I would see that, especially with the constant turn over at Walmart. But yikes, the recession and hard times are indeed here.
While Benton County seems quick on the draw to haul-off the brush from the ice storm, cooler heads in Washington County seem content to wait to find out what aid really will be available from FEMA and the state. Look for some keystone cops type finger-pointing in Benton County over the rush to clean up with questions like: Where did all the money go? Who got paid? Who didn’t? And what didn’t get cleaned up?
J.B. Hunt Transport Services of Lowell, has named a second female to its board of directors, Sharilyn Gasaway, former Alltel CFO. Gasaway joined Alltel in 1999 as director of general accounting.
Hog Haus Brewing Co. welcomes a new Brewmaster, Mehmet Kadiev. Originally from New Jersey, Mehmet became interest in craft beers while living in San Diego, where there’s an abundance of brewpubs and microbreweries. Kadiev was assistant brewer under Steve Mazylewski, who has, as they say, “left the building.”
BIZ BOOK TALK
Nightbird Books is restarting a group discussion of books focusing on the importance of supporting local economies. The first meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. February 26 at Nightbird. The group will meet the last Thursday of each month. This month’s book: “Small is Beautiful.”
BIG ANSWER: Twenty-three percent of married American couples say they sleep in separate beds.