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Editorial: Another business flees the streetscape

This news story was published on February 7, 2012.
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by Matt Marquardt –

MASON CITY – Another business has left downtown Mason City.

Lillian’s, formerly located at 16 South Federal Avenue, has packed up and moved to Clear Lake.

“I would have gladly stayed in Mason City, it’s my hometown,” owner Twyla Steenblock told

With all that has been made of the new streetscape area of downtown Mason City, the sign in the window at her former location stands out.  Mayor Eric Bookmeyer has spoken of the “cultural crescent,” some kind of personal IMAX movie he described where sidewalks are paved in gold, customers are steadily coming and going at all hours, a type of utopian “river city renaissance.”  Apparently the mayor’s dream skipped Lillian’s, and it is not reaching other businesses as well, has discovered.

Steenblock said she never envisioned driving all the way to Clear Lake everyday to run her store, but she had no choice.  “Mason City did absolutely nothing to help me stay in business,” she explained. “I was totally excluded from the ping pong ball drop over the holidays.  I made some calls about that, and then I was yelled at.  The streetscape project was terrible.  Then by August things just got worse.  Finally I found a great location in Clear Lake (419 Main Avenue), and they welcomed me with open arms.  We just had our grand opening and it was a huge success.”

The misery for downtown streetscape area businesses doesn’t stop there.  Another small business owner on North Federal Avenue described the streetscape project as “a nightmare” and said his business has not recovered.  “This is the slowest we have ever been,” said the owner, who wishes to remain unknown for fear of reprisal.  “It got worse in August if you can believe that.”

Another long-time business on North Federal that will not be named also informed me that “we are barely hanging on.”

The owner of Butcher’s, also on North Federal Avenue, told me a couple months ago that they will be moving their business about a mile north, well away from the streetscape area.

Add to that other businesses that left recently are a vacuum store, The Scooter Shop, Visit Mason City, and a martial arts shop, among others.

This is not to say that there are not success stories in the streetscape area; obviously new businesses have sprung up here and there.  Most notably the Historic Park Inn, State Street Deli, and Chop Restaurant as well as Oak Leaf Comics, just to name a few.  But to gloss over or outright leave out the fact that there are still businesses experiencing difficulty downtown is a fabrication.  Only when the full story is known can downtown truly succeed.  I for one am hoping the city and its partners like Main Street Mason City are finding new and creative ways to spur success for all businesses in Mason City, not just those located in a very small geographic area.



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66 Responses to Editorial: Another business flees the streetscape

  1. Avatar

    Jerry Reply Report comment

    February 13, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Ah for the simple answer. Downtown is not dead. Traffic on why 65 has never been as high as why 18 or 122.Go check it out with the dot if you don,t believe this. Avenue of the Aiint,ts made many restaurants aunts because traffic dropped almost 30percent compared to years before avenue was built. it ain,t happening.Ain,t avenue hasn’t,t proven to be a big benefit for mason City.

  2. Avatar

    Gail Dierks Reply Report comment

    February 12, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Matt, I very much appreciate NIT. I find it gives truth to journalism. I no longer will read the Globe Gazette and we dropped our subscription to it, due to its constant failure to write an honest story. It reveals only the side that Mason City wants reported. And KIMT only reports one side of the story as well. Keep up the work you do so we can get both sides of an issue. And if those who attack you can’t use their real names, then they can go read the Globe Gazette!

  3. Avatar

    Mike Hahn Reply Report comment

    February 8, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    One more thing, downtown is the heart of a community. In most cases, if that heart is healthy, it will pump vibrancy to the rest of the community. For nearly 30 years now, Mason City’s heart has had a blockage. In my opinion, if that blockage was surgically removed it would result once again in a healthy heart pumping vibrancy to the rest of the community. This surgery should be Mason City’s next evolution in downtown revitalization. It won’t be cheap, correcting big fixes/quick fixes rarely are. This will also take a lot of political will, but this is the right step to ensure all current and future revitalization done in Downtown Mason City was not done in vain.

  4. Avatar

    common sense Reply Report comment

    February 8, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    They tell us we are working together with Clear Lake to promote economic development. What is the convention center going to do for the surf? Put it out of business, people don’t go to every concert. The winter dance party fills hotel rooms for a week in both towns. I’m sure some businesses best week of the year. The city says they will save money they give the schools renting gym space. Whats wrong with giving our schools extra cash?

  5. Avatar

    bumbleberry Reply Report comment

    February 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    I moved in after the steet scape project was just wrapping up. I can’t blame good or bad business on it. I do know this… My Husband and I get up every day at 3:00am we work our butts off to provide quality baked goods, a clean dining area, a cheerful, accomidating attitude and a welcoming atmosphere. We have plenty of parking and really not that hard to find. We would love for each and every one of you to come visit. Our failure or success can only be blamed on us. I can’t afford to advertise with the globe, word of mouth is very important to me, so we put everything we got into it. If our business closes or we decide to up and move that is our fault or our decision through our actions. It means the world to us everytime someone walks through our door and we never want someone to feel obligated to do so. I never went to lillian’s I don’t hold myself at fault for them leaving. I go to Butcher’s because their steaks are wonderful, they are good kids trying hard but most of all they visit my bakery and I never forget that.

    • Avatar

      Alice Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2012 at 8:49 pm

      I wish you the best! You’re goodies are amazing!!!!

    • Avatar

      Alice Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2012 at 8:50 pm

      Oh and Butcher’s I highly recommend the fried pickles for an appetizer.

    • Avatar

      Observer Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2012 at 11:35 pm

      Those carmel rolls are the best, and are made as they should be. People should also know about their great dinners as well.

  6. Avatar

    a MC resident Reply Report comment

    February 8, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    One wok for downtown. J O K E ! ! !

  7. Avatar

    UWritethis? Reply Report comment

    February 8, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Matt, really? I can’t believe people read your articles and take it seriously. I understand your concern with the streetscape, however most of these business had to fail or move because they weren’t that great to begin with. The ones that have succeeded are still in business and booming because people actually want to take the trip to that business. I don’t know a lot of people who would want to travel from the west side of town to go to “Lillians.” Also, if the business doesn’t let you use their name, then don’t use their quote. It just makes it sound like you made it up to prove a point. You also concluded with a argument that has nothing to do with the rest of your editorial. If you are concerned the city is only focusing on improving the small area of the Streetscape, then write your editorial about that. However, you wrote how the streetscape hurts business and then tried to draw a conclusion that the city doesn’t care about the rest of town.

    • Avatar

      Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      Anonymous blogger to the rescue. Anonymous, please do not lecture me abut leaving off names when you are too cowardly to use your own. I can assure you the comments are true and made in the presence of others.

      Yes, people do take NIT seriously. 36,000 unique visitors in January, that’s how seriously. 35+ comments on this story many of them supportive.

      I’m sure the small businesses that left appreciate your parting shot “they weren’t that great.” That’s a low blow, are you an A teamer that played a hand in their demise? You seem to have a chip on your shoulder about this, perhaps you failed them in some way and are now taking shots at me and the businesses that left to protect yourself.

      Lastly, you cherry-picked my editorial, a common tactic of my detractors. The story is about how Mayor Eric Bookmeyer and other A teamers are trying to take credit for a “booming” streetscape area (he spoke of it in his state of the city address, which I linked to) while many businesses in the area are leaving or going out of business. The story is about how he is NOT telling the whole story. Please read it again and try to comprehend, and while you are at it, try to remember your real name.

    • Avatar

      Mittens Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      Matt, why don’t you put up figures for how many new businesses there are in the downtown area and how many have left? Churn is a natural part of the economy and without displaying the real facts it just makes you look like a constant naysayer, a negative nelly, so on and so forth. Let’s get real.

    • Avatar

      Alice Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      Another hater Matt. Do you ever get tired of having to defend yourself to people???

    • Avatar

      Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm

      Alice: No I don’t get tired of it. Really it is rare that any of these anonymous bloggers make an argument that holds water. Typically they try to insult me or make up fabrications. I find it amusing and a lot of fun to debate them. Appreciate your support, and stay tuned to NIT for much more.

    • Avatar

      Jason Kingery Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      To be honest Matt you didn’t really include any statistics about the businesses that are doing well, leaving the story rather biased. Since I’m on an honest kick, 36,000 unique visitors isn’t that great either. Maybe it isn’t horrible, but really it’s just a little over 1,000/day. I’m sure most of them are links posted to Facebook as well, I know I’ve seen a couple on North Iowa Mugshots, which has over 12,000 followers in itself (by the way I always thought North Iowa Mugshots (NIM) only like North Iowa Today (NIT) and not Globe Gazette or KIMT?) I’m guessing you have a few hobbies, huh?

    • Avatar

      Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2012 at 5:36 pm

      Mr. Kingery (if that’s your real name… you are blogging under multiple names) I provided no statistics at all. I provided a viewpoint based on real facts that businesses are leaving downtown Mason City. That is not disputable.

      As for your opinion of NIT, I really do not care what your think. You are here, taking a lot of time to debate me, using multiple names. You obviously are interested in what is said here, just like thousands of other North Iowans. I hope you continue to visit NIT everyday and spend a couple of hours here, just like your neighbors do.

    • Avatar

      cerwin Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      Mr. Kingery, How is 36,000 unique visitors not that impressive? This site is in a town of 28,000 people. I,m sure thats higher than the actual number. That tells me every person in Mason City and Clear Lake is on here.

    • Avatar

      Jason Kingery Reply Report comment

      February 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm

      Cerwin, 36,000 unique views doesn’t mean that 36,000 different people are reading this site, it simply means that 36,000 IP addresses are logged each month. What this means, if someone checks NIT at work, home, library, smart phone or a friends house then they themselves could leave up to 5 unique views even though it’s all the same person. Now imagine when an article is posted to NIM which has over 13,000 followers. For each person who posts to that article, or shares it they (on average) share it with 400 friends… so on and so forth. So really, 36,000? I’m guessing the Globe brings in over 80k easy.

    • Avatar

      Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      February 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm

      You can’t stop putting your foot in your mouth, can you “Jason?”

      If the Glob has 80K unique visitors, after having a website in existance for over 15 years, and I have 36K in 1.5 years since NIT launched, I can live with that. As a matter of fact, that is incredible, and I am ecstatic! You are making my case perfectly, thank you.

      As far as your rudimentary analysis of how people find NIT, so what if it is through Facebook? They still have to click the link posted on FB to read the story. NIT gets no page views or unique visitor until THE LINK IS CLICKED and NIT page opens.

    • Avatar

      Jason Kingery Reply Report comment

      February 9, 2012 at 7:22 pm


      That’s fine if that’s the delusion you want to live with. You say you created an alternative news site for North Iowan’s to visit. In the end you write stories and editorials that are one sided, and always rejoice if you are the “only” news venue covering a story. It’s not that your groundbreaking, it’s that you rush into everything without knowing the facts, or waiting until all the facts have been released. You skew stories so that you seem cutting edge and “on-the-inside” when really you take everything out of context. As you quoted Mr. Skarlis in another skewed article “the truth is timeless.” In the end, you will have burnt so many bridges with your “cutting edge” tactics that no one will release anymore information, leaving you to once again make it up as you go 😉

      It’s obvious that you have a big ego, seeing that you are taking so much of your time to defend yourself on your own site instead of taking the high road, like any legit journalist. I’ll leave you to your work “Matt” and sit back reading better media venues, while I watch NIT (and NIM) fall.

    • Avatar

      Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      February 9, 2012 at 8:03 pm

      Kingery, you are so uninformed it is almost sad. You seem to think I have a hand in NIM. If I only had the time. If I were running NIM, I would admit it, just like I blog here with my real name. I am quite busy running this very successful NEWS website. NIM links to NIT stories the same way they link to glob stories and even national stories. You are propagating lies, just like you refuse to use your real name here. As for you leaving and your hope that NIT fails, I say this: That is sad that you are denying yourself the knowledge you can gain just by reading NIT. PS: I think we both know you will be back, you can’t resist.

  8. Avatar

    Larry Reply Report comment

    February 8, 2012 at 9:09 am

    The downtown is what it is. The past is just that, the past. Taking down the mall is just not realistic and would result in the loss of a lot of jobs. Yes, I agree the mall should never have been built where it is, but it is and that’s all there is to it. I really miss the old Federal Ave. where we used to go on Friday nights and socialize with everyone but, it is gone. Quit putting money into a dead area. Maintain it but don’t put new tax money into it. As a retail area it just will never happen.

  9. Avatar

    El Norte Reply Report comment

    February 8, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Watchdog hit the nail on the head, (and as I have been saying as well)- once they cut off Federal for that God-forsaken mall, the damage was done. It makes absolutely no sense to restrict traffic to a street or shopping area then try to attract people back into to it- no sense at all. And yes, “retail” is dead- nobody in their right mind is going to fight their way through MC traffic to find a parking place to buy something they can get with a mouse click. More firms like Principal need to be attracted by low-cost modern office space and tax incentives.

  10. Avatar

    Bushpilot Reply Report comment

    February 8, 2012 at 8:02 am

    The PI lounge is nice! Spent several evenings there.

  11. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 8, 2012 at 6:20 am

    Watchdog and Anonymous are correct. Open up Federal to two way traffic again. Ain’t gonna happen!

    Observer says if you did that traffic would crawl. It is obvious that Observer did not live in Mason City prior to the loop. He/she also don’t know the value of slower traffic. And as a side benefit no one had to worry about getting run over by some reckless speedster.

    When Federal Avenue was open to two-way traffic it is true traffic ran slower. In the evenings, traffic cops were necessary to keep traffic moving. At the same time however, Mason City had a fantastic downtown that was vibrant. The sidewalks were full of shoppers. Business’s flourished. It was a sight to behold. Sidewalks that were shoulder to shoulder with people shopping.

    Parking was hard to find but people didn’t mind. Dad would drop mom and the kids off and drive around the block a couple of times and pick them back up if they couldn’t find a parking spot.

    The barrels put a stop to all that. Downtown is dead and gone. After all the money Mason City has thrown at it’s old town, that is what you have. An old town able to limp along with some business but it will never be anything more then that. It is foolish to keep throwing tax money into old town to try and bring back commerce.

    Just ain’t gonna happen!

    • Avatar

      gloria Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2012 at 10:16 am

      I too remember downtown as busy and vibrant. All those busy stores, The Golden Rule, Raizes, Curries Hardware, Damons, Osco Drug etc etc. My favorite time as a kid was going downtown on “Ridiculous Days”! It was very hard to find a place to park on that day, but what fun it was!

    • Avatar

      Observer Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2012 at 5:08 pm

      I know enough by looking at traffic on US 65 most times of the business day, it is too much for a two lane road. How patient are those truckers going to be when they have to wait behind someone trying to parallel park on Federal?

      At least with the current configuration, the trucks have two lanes each way to utilize. Federal does not have that kind of room unless you totally restrict parking to side streets.

      And one does not need to have lived in MC all their lives to observe what conditions are today. If the traffic became so slow and difficult (as it surely will if the loop is decommissioned), it would drive away potential clients.

      From all accounts, Downtown Mason City used to look like the downtowns of East Chicago, IN; Rhinelander, WI; Columbia, PA; Zanesville, OH; Owasso, MI; or Galena, IL. They have all evolved, some got much better, others, not so good.

      I really think that with what we have left in Mason City, there are a lot of choices to make it work.

  12. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 8, 2012 at 5:23 am

    The one and only way to revitalize downtown Mason City is fire up a couple bulldozers, plow under Southbridge mall, and build a main street through the center of the downtown. If we aren’t willing to do that, can we please stop spending money on downtown Mason City. Every cent of it is a waste.

  13. Avatar

    Observer Reply Report comment

    February 8, 2012 at 12:14 am

    What is doing well in downtown, depends on what you are looking at. Of course big box stores will not locate there, they have their own corporate footprint that is required.

    Parking is what I expect down there. I have no issue with the loop or how it is configured. I wonder if Federal were opened up, traffic would crawl to a halt with all the trucks that use US 65 today. And it would only be two lanes. That would drive more business out of the area.

    The key is getting businesses that:

    ·Have enough of business plan to survive.
    ·Have a business that is appropriate for downtown (there are many suited for a smaller location).

    This is going to be controversial; have a business suited to the climate in Mason City. Face it folks, booze and bawdy sell here, not refined and cultured.

    The reality is, our community as a whole, still carries the grittiness of the blue collar. Very few here gets excited about a place that serves Matzo Ball soup or Pastrami on marble rye as they would with a bar selling 50¢ beers.

    • Avatar

      BringBackTonysPizza Reply Report comment

      February 10, 2012 at 12:23 pm

      I whole-heartedly agree with bringing back what made MC…tough, gritty, street smart, and fun. That mall was the beginning of the end. It had the history & tradition to be a real go to place. Somehow a bunch of prisses started calling the shots, but they have no idea how to have a real good time and make it enjoyable AND safe. We used to be able to bring the volume up to a “9” and nothing broke…so, loosen up and let the good times roll again. No room for slugs, grifters, punks, big city washouts (either come in & adjust or begone)…you will be handled appropriately. If you own a business on the street walk and someone comes to your door at 2:15pm in the afternoon…don’t say, “oh, were closed”, BF’nS, you should be lucky someone wants to spend money in your joint. Irish, Greeks, Italians, Germans, Mexicans helped shape the warmth of the town so open your door as is they were a relative looking for some hospitality. You won’t share, FU, the more you give the more that is returned…clear out that artery blockage and start to live again.

      Peace out

  14. Avatar

    Watchdog Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    To re-build downtown Mason City into something vibrant you have to draw money. People translate into money.

    Question? How do you draw people to the downtown?

    At this point RETAIL IS OUT, FINISHED, DONE!

    Mason City need to do the following, big time.

    FOCUS should be entirely on finding EMPLOYERS. Our current downtown is now only good for building Office’s that employ many many people. High rise (or short rise) office buildings that can perform service work using technology that can compete with overseas workers on a one on one basis. Employment that can make a profit for the employer while doing the job more competitive then our overseas counter parts.

    How do we do this?

    First we must be able to build the most energy efficient buildings possible to keep operational costs lower then anyplace in the country. That is do-able if we want to.

    Second we need to keep utility prices lower then anywhere else in the country. We can do that. It will take cooperation. Here the State Of Iowa needs to lead.

    Wages need to be in line with world markets. Today, Mason City’s labor rates are some of the lowest in the country. Wages can be competitive and we can increase productivity with technology, again that is do-able.

    I don’t live in Mason City but I think with the right leadership and with the Chamber Of Commerce and Globe Gazette out of the way it could be a lot better community.

    There is a better future but not with the boo-foes you have in office now.

  15. Avatar

    MC Bystander Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    as a local business that has been in Mason City for 17 years +, there is NO way I would move my business downtown. I don’t do business downtown because of the bad parking (or lack thereof), the lack of interesting stores (due to relocations), and the general “flow” of the traffic (which confuses not only in town drivers, but visitors). Mason City seemed to do better before the streetscape project. When you are at the center court of the mall, say enjoying a meal at one of the restaraunts there, and you look out to see the plastic grass from the window- you become a little disheartened by it all. While there are some very good business in that area, which i do wish success to, most of them have been smart enough to move out of that section. while we can still comment on the good business the new places are doing, like Chop and the deli; they have not been open long enough to even balance a 2 quarter budget analysis.
    I dont know what else to say about the whole deal and the disappointment that comes with the subject. Mason City is a good town, however, I think that some of the ideas as of late have been awful. What does it say about the area when the Visit Mason City business moves away from downtown and they are part of who/what PROMOTES downtown/all of Mason City?

    • Avatar

      Ummm, hello???? Reply Report comment

      February 7, 2012 at 8:13 pm

      “What does it say about the area when the Visit Mason City business moves away from downtown and they are part of who/what PROMOTES downtown/all of Mason City?”

      If you contacted Visit Mason City, they would tell you they moved to the West because that is where most people access the city from! Hence more informed VISITORS!!!! Not my opinion, it’s FACT! Ask them!

    • Avatar

      MC Bystander Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2012 at 6:07 pm

      ummmmmmmm hello?
      that is why i made the comment. downtown for them doesnt bring anything in but moving to the West of MC does. its a better area, better traffic, advertising, etc. it was rhetorical. i agree with what you said, hence why i said it how i said it.

  16. Avatar

    Watchdog Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2012 at 5:35 pm


    Mason City’s Downtown starts on Highway 18 and Pierce Avenue and currently ends with Best Buy by Wal-Mart on old highway 18.

    I can count 75 million dollars spent on the dead horse you are referring to as “downtown”. Once the loop was created, it has been steadily declining since. That occurred when then Mayor Tom Jolas put up barrels on North and South Federal to create the current loop system.

    Best advice I could give you folks is cut the mall in half and open up Federal to thru traffic. That is pretty unrealistic at this point. huh?

    It has always been about the money and who is going to make it. It has never been about, What Is Best For The City! Henkle has made a killing in a construction business thanks to all the “downtown remodels”.

    The hard cold reality of this tragedy has been a long history of Politicians just like the current Mayor Bookmeyer always backed by the Chamber of Crime. They are always promoting one hair brained idea or another at the expense of the dumb-ed down taxpayers.

    Mason City has been Spreading The Wealth UP for many years.

    Change that and you can start building a better future!!

    • Avatar

      Watchdog Reply Report comment

      February 7, 2012 at 5:38 pm

      Oh, and Lillian’s is just another victim of all these positive developments.

      There have been dozens!

    • Avatar

      Bushpilot Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2012 at 10:00 am



      I was approached today, and asked if I wanted to visit MLPS…for midget strippers. My first reaction was NO. Then, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to go along with it, just to keep everyone out of too much mischeif…although one bad apple destroys the whole bunch.

      #1 This is a pay week for local Mason Citians, and this is where paychecks are being spent.

      #2 Unfortunately, Mason City is not Chicago, New York, or Dallas. I discovered Decorah has a bustling main street district. They had the big WalMart battle there, but they have a successful hotel, and main street business corridor. You don’t need to travel that far. Osage, Charles City, New Hampton. Non college towns with functional main street business. BE REALISTIC. The mall was built to be a piece of big city living, and thinking shifted towards big city development and as you are all aware, downtown isn’t drawing in small business or large business kicking and scratching to get space downtown…yet. The Park Inn might change that in several years.

      #3 Cripple Creek, CO. My first visit to the ghost town of CC was to visit the goldmine and ride the steam locomotive. that’s all that was there. some dusty buildings, literally out of an old West movie, and a General Store with a pickle barrel with live floating pickles. Fifteen years later, CC is a tour destination. Busloads of ppl from Denver, the Springs, all around come to Cripple Creek for…casinos. All brands, all colors, all games, lining both sides of the street. A motel and supper club. Unbelieveable to my eyes, they could turn the dusty old ghosttown into a bustling blinking hot spot, but they did it, and it’s profitable.

    • Avatar

      Bushpilot Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2012 at 10:16 am

      What I think I’m trying to say is, take a risk. You want business to move to mason city, and stay here, be willing to live outside of your comfort zone for a while.

      CES was a huge reach at that risk, involving not only Mason City but several other communities as well. I’m not suprised the better part of valor was the result.

  17. Avatar

    Captain Fred Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    “Lillian’s”? Never heard of it. What do they do? Or sell? How many do they employ? How long were they in Mason City?
    And “Butcher’s”? They moved to Mason City from Fertile, where they had steady customers. Perhaps Mason City did not NEED (or would not support) another “steak house”?
    Etc., etc.
    If a business has a TRULY LOYAL following, they WILL survive.

    • Avatar

      anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 7, 2012 at 6:14 pm

      Lillian’s sells “trendy” grandma handbags and jewelry at an affordable price point. In exchange you get “stuff” that is of marginal quality that’s made in China. Frankly I’d rather have a few nice pieces of jewelry I can wear for years and a good quality handbag i can carry forever instead of cheap crap. It’s certainly more affordable over the long run. Of course, I don’t define my worth by the amount of stuff I have.

    • Avatar

      I C U Reply Report comment

      February 7, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      Thanks Peter, welcome back.

    • Avatar

      ms.everything Reply Report comment

      February 7, 2012 at 10:30 pm

      so where can you get a “quality” handbag in this town?

    • Avatar

      anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2012 at 1:14 pm

      Younkers. If anyone else knows where I can buy a nice genuine leather bag that will wear well and last 20 years, please post it here.

    • Avatar

      Alice Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      Another negative comment from our friend Fred….Hey Fred, do you actually ever leave your house?

  18. Avatar

    John Rowe Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Just curious, did the store front she move to in Clear Lake replace on existing business, or was it to an empty store front prior to relocating there? Did she build in a new location in Clear lake because all existing store fronts were occupied? If memory serves me, downtown Clear Lake has several closed store fronts, including a shuttered restraunt right acrss from the park. And I am not talking about the one that closes during the winter. Businesses open and close and relocate all the time. To lay sole blame on our streetscape is unfair. Again, look to Clear Lake and their empty storefronts. Cant blame some empty store fronts and closed eating places there on our streetscape.

  19. Avatar

    Captain Fred Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Mike Hahn:

    OMG! What a breath of fresh air YOUR commentary is!!! Not only from a LOGICAL standpoint, but you, sir, know how to spell. And punctuate. PLUS you stuck to the FACTS! All POSITIVE qualities that appear to be RARE on this site! SALUD!

    • Avatar

      Alice Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      Ok Fred! I read this site everyday. It seems you also read it, but not for the reasons that some of us do. I am so sick of your attitude towards this site and it’s editor. Everytime you comment on anything on here, you just gripe, moan, and groan. You must be a very unhappy person. If you don’t care for the reporting on this site, then don’t read it. Didn’t your mother ever tell you…if you can’t say anything nice???

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    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Mike, what do you think is a fare amount of time to give these (fixes)?

  21. Avatar

    Mike Hahn Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    This is not a news article, but an opinion, so here is my opinion based on over two plus decades professional experience in downtown development. Mason City is also my hometown and the thing that really bugs me about it… is the mentality toward big fixes/quick fixes. For example, demolition of downtown landmarks (too numerous to list) because something had to be done, Southbridge Mall and Music Man Square to name a few. The overall performance of the streetscape project tied to the performance of a few businesses is ludicrous! Downtown revitalization is a slow incremental process. The completion of this project is less than a year old. I have been involved in at least five street rehabilitation projects and guess what? It takes time to reestablish traffic patterns with business closures and relocations being the post-project norm. In situations like this, entrepreneurs become so stressed in making decisions on their survival things get heated and sometimes things are said that shouldn’t have been said. Usually after the initial fallout things do work out and a new crop of businesses will populate a street that better meet current or even future market needs. I ask Matt and NIT for patience on this and not to go negative toward Main Street Mason City and their efforts. These things do take years to fully develop. To follow the big fix/quick fix mentality of the past is only going to cost Downtown Mason City more grief and money in the future.

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      Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      February 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm

      Mike, an excellent post. I agree, too many historic buildings in Mason City have been torn down. They have gotten into the wrong hands, not cared for, and eventally met the wrecking ball.
      What a downtown we would have if more of the old landmarks had been kept alive and preserved. Appreciate your viewpoint. We are all pulling for the success of downtown while not ignoring its problems.

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    dollshine Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Just sad.

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    Mason City Native, Public Relations Student Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    As a Mason City native, I would love to come home after graduation, but I have to say, the town has nothing to offer me. These types of stories are really a shame. With all the bedroom communities surrounding Mason City, the community should serves as a business hub and be growing not dying. These types of stories should serves as a wake up call not only to city officials but to the businesses as well. Both entities need to work together, to achieve success. As a public relations student I have to wonder are the small businesses taking the necessary marketing, social media and advertising steps to promote their businesses?

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      Brother Reply Report comment

      February 7, 2012 at 11:52 pm

      If you’re so concerned, why not help them out?

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      Observer Reply Report comment

      February 8, 2012 at 12:19 am

      Peter L complained a lot about the “there is nothing to do” kind of thing. I will offer you the same response as I did to Peter. If there is something you really want, make it happen. Get the finances and plan together and open it.

      And as I also pointed out, there are many ideas for businesses and entertainment, that just are not possible in a small town. So many people who desire this kind of thing, move to bigger cities where it is financially feasible. But none of it will be served up on a silver platter.

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    Exactly Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    “Questioning” is correct. Lillian’s has the weirdest hours. I’m surprised they made it as long as they did with the hours the store kept.

    Good luck in Clear Lake.

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    Questioning Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    WAIT A MINUTE! While I’m not a huge fan of the new streetscape, I have to cry FOUL at the notion that Lillian’s had to pack it up and head to the Tourist Mecca BECAUSE of the streetscape. What’s NOT included in the article/mentioned by the owner is their AWFUL hours of business. Something like “Only the first full Thurs, Fri & Saturday of any month ending in K and a full moon”, or something like that. I bought something there just before Christmas one year. It “broke” within 2 weeks. Their refund policy is “within 30 days”. The way the calendar worked, the next time the first full Thurs, Fri & Saturday rolled around, the 30 days was over and done with. At first, they refused to refund me. After much “discussion”, they agreed to exchange the item. My point…if they had regular business hours, they MAY have been able to make it in M.C.

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      duh Reply Report comment

      February 7, 2012 at 9:03 pm

      I agree. I’d heard wonderful things about Lillian’s shops in other towns, but found ours very lacking. no selection and worse, the customer service was terrible. I’ve never seen such unprofessional and lazy staff. I stopped several times and each time was made to feel like I was interrupting them. Good bye Lillians!

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    Taxpayer Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    The SAD truth is, politicians don’t seem to understand! Helping those that have isn’t the answer. HELP those that DON’T makes it the best place for us all to live!!!

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    dori duffield Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Mason City needs to be turned back into the town I grew up in. It is now just a crap hole. I’m glad I left when I did. 60’s flash back

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    Bender Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    I predict the rush of people to leave Mason City will greatly increase when people see what happens to their taxes in the next 5 years! Less and less people must pay more if government is not forced to scale back.

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    drunkmeyer fan Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    another great idea made by our mayor. someday when he sobers up he will understand how stupid he really is. let waste another 26 or 56 million on a civic center. just like southbridge is. oh yes we wasted 52 million that. 26 to build it ( which we only got j=half of what was promised when it was voted in. and and other 26 million to keep it open.
    so anymore great ideas MR drunkmeyer?
    oh wait, my bad by saying “AGAIN” i’m waitng for the first great idea

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      Where was your first "again"? Reply Report comment

      February 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm

      If you have all the answers (or just one) why not suggest it/them? So far, based on your comment, you and the Mayor have the same exact number of great ideas! At least he is making the effort. Some have failed, some not. Easy to sit in judgement of others when you are on the sideline. Lead, follow, or get out of the way! You are not doing so well at any of those either! Get a clue!

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    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    downtown is now 52.000.000 more, of a dead horse
    Can somebody please give us a update on the occupency of our savior ( the Historic Park Inn). I would guess the luster has just about warren off.

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      b Reply Report comment

      February 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm

      An update on Park Inn will just be another fabrication of the truth anyway. I think there is an update slated for the council meeting tonight?