Street Talk

One success begets another for GR mom entrepreneur

August 27, 2012
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Christy Malone has been pretty busy for a “stay-at-home” mom. In 2008, she franchised the southeast Michigan “mom-to-mom sale,” a six-hour resale extravaganza scheduled for DeVos Hall this year on Sept. 15. She also started a Smart Bottoms cloth diaper business featuring an organic cloth diapering system, sold from her home in Grand Rapids. That business has grown to sales in several major national retailers, and Malone no longer had time to coordinate West Michigan’s biggest “yard sale,” aka West Michigan Mom’s Show.

But she knew who to call: Grand Rapids Business Journal Top Woman Owned Business owner Denise Kolesar, president of Kohler Expos Inc. Kolesar’s successful expos include the West Michigan Women’s Expo and Bridal Shows of West Michigan. She expanded the women’s expo into mid-Michigan three years ago.

Last week, Kolesar — with less than a month until the anticipated September mom-to-mom sale — became the new owner of the “yard sale” and of the April GR8 Parenting event also initiated by Malone. Kolesar told the Business Journal, “I may be crazy this year, but I know we can make this into a fantastic expo.”

The West Michigan Women’s Expo, held every March, draws 15,000-19,000 attendees.

Kolesar said she was immediately immersed in selling the last exhibit spaces for the September event, and “I’m looking for partners, sponsors, businesses that will help build what we believe will develop into something amazing in the future.”

Smooth road

Kent County commissioners unanimously agreed last week to fill two road patrol positions in the county Sheriff’s department for the rest of this year. The grant that funded both ended last month, and the Sheriff’s Department will pick up the tab. After that vote, Commissioner Stan Ponstein got permission to ask what he said was a “political question.” He asked Sheriff Larry Stelma how many patrol deputies have been lost to budget cuts made by the county over the past several years. Stelma said none. “We’ve managed to make all of our cuts in support staff,” he added.

Ponstein brought the issue up because a county taxpayers group has promised to campaign this fall against commissioners who voted to let the land bank buy tax-foreclosed properties before the auction was held. That group said not letting those 43 properties go to the auction would cost the county money at a time when “the county is contemplating cutting sheriff’s deputies.”

For the record, there’s been no public talk of doing that and the tax sale didn’t lose money. In fact, this year’s sale brought in $500,000 more than the 2010 auction.

Then Commissioner Bill Hirsch, who lost his bid for a third term in the primary, said he was falsely attacked in the recent election for not supporting the Sheriff’s Department, and he asked Stelma if he knew where that rhetoric came from. Stelma said he didn’t know. “Politics are unique,” he added. Read on for proof.

Guessing game

Ponstein also said last week he had a recent discussion with a state lawmaker who represents the area. He didn’t name him or her but said the legislator hasn’t made the connection that state cuts to local revenue sharing were the reason the county and other governments have had to cut budgets and lay off personnel. Ponstein said the state rep also remarked that county, city and township officials don’t realize Lansing knows exactly what it’s doing, and what it is doing is right, regardless of what they say, think or feel. Any guesses who that legislator might be?

Casinos down, but not out

A ballot proposal to amend the Michigan Constitution to allow eight more non-Native American casinos across the state is before the Michigan Supreme Court and could possibly be decided today — if it hasn’t been already.

In mid-August, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled the ballot question improper because it does not advise voters that it would amend the state’s Gaming Control & Revenue Act, as well as the state Constitution.

A group called Citizens for More Michigan Jobs — formed by another group called Jobs First LLC — has been working to get the eight-more-casinos question on the November ballot. One of the eight sites proposed for a privately owned casino, like the three non-Native American casinos in Detroit, is on the southwest periphery of downtown Grand Rapids.

Emily Gerkin Palsrok of GR-based PR firm Lambert, Edwards & Associates is representing CMMJ. She said they are appealing the Court of Appeals decision before the state Supreme Court. Because of the dwindling time left to finalize the official ballot questions, CMMJ has asked the court to render a decision by today.

“We still stand behind our wording,” said Palsrok. “We said we were only changing the Constitution and we stand by that. We think our wording is pretty clear and forthright.”

The group fighting the ballot proposal in the state courts is Protect MI Constitution, an organization reportedly funded by the three Detroit casinos and three tribal casinos, including Gun Lake Casino. The Protect MI group maintains there are enough casinos in Michigan already.

Protect MI Constitution sounds like the same people at Protect MI Vote, the original opposition to the Eight More Casinos ballot proposal — and in fact, they are, according to John Truscott of Lansing PR firm Truscott Rossman, which is representing the Protect MI group. The name variation involves a legal designation of the entity in court as opposed to the entity running the campaign to sink the Eight More Casinos proposal.

Truscott said the Court of Appeals decision was “very strong” and from a “diverse panel of judges, and we wholeheartedly agree with their conclusion. This is worded in an unconstitutional manner and doesn’t meet the test of informing voters about what they are actually voting on.”

Late last week, CMMJ issued another press release, about an economic report that “shows eight new casinos will bring jobs, more money for schools, roads, police and fire services.”

CMMJ said the report, released Aug. 23, was written by former state treasurer Robert Kleine and former House Fiscal Agency Director Mitch Bean, who have co-founded a business called Great Lakes Economic Consulting of Eaton Rapids.

Overreacting

“Investors always overreact to bad news — or good news,” said Gregg Dimkoff, in a conversation with the Business Journal.

The starting point was Perrigo stock prices, which dropped from $116.60 a share Aug. 15 to $106.93 Aug. 17.

Dimkoff is a professor of finance at GVSU Seidman School of Business, has a Ph.D. in finance, and is a certified financial planner and director of the certificate program in financial planning at GVSU, where he has been teaching since 1975. He is a serious and persistent student of stock market activity involving every local publicly held company — such as Perrigo.

So what’s going on down there in Allegan?

Well, he mentioned Perrigo stock is up something like 15 percent this year and that, over the last two or three years, it’s been going “gangbusters.”

“Perrigo’s volatility the last week or so has been kicked off by sales that were lower than analysts had expected. That caused the stock price to dive.”

And that led to his comment on investors always overreacting.

He said he believes the general sentiment is that Perrigo is “still a great company and it’s been doing well. And there doesn’t seem to be much limit to its upside, in the long term.

“As financial advisors, we are always telling people to buy when prices are down, and yet, when prices go down, people get scared and they sell. It’s the one thing that we unload when the price is low and buy when the price is high. Everything else, we do the opposite.”

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