Saturday, November 25, 2006

Underwood whine: Letter to the editor from a supporter

The continuing saga of Bill Underwood and his disdain for 300,000 potential customers milling around Dickson Street finally has another citizen speaking out publicly in favor of forcing Bikes Blues and BarBQ out of downtown Fayetteville. Rob Kennedy (dunno who he is) wrote a letter to the editor today in support of his "lifelong" friend Bill Underwood in the NW AR Times.

The body of Kennedy's letter is as follows:

"The truth is that moving the event to another location, one that doesn’t block off Dickson Street for four days, will not harm anyone in any way like Mack tries to say. He claims that the poor little bars on Dickson Street make all their money in the fall and then scrape by for the rest of the year like retailers do with Christmas sales. I live a block away from Dickson Street and see it packed winter, summer, spring and fall. If a place isn’t making any money it’s not because there aren’t enough customers; it’s because they aren’t competitive. Beer tents, food vendors, live music, motorcycle shows, etc. aren’t held in any of the bars or restaurants, save Jose’s and other sanctioned venue’s[sic]."

The italicized sentence does more to offend rather than help the cause of his friendUnderwood. Maybe Underwood should spend more time inventing ways to take advantage of 300,000 potential customers milling around downtown rather than whining about 300,000 potential customers on Dickson. Maybe Bill needs to devise a way to be competitive for 4 days in September. I am astounded that one weekend out of the year has such a dramatic impact on a friggin jewelry store. The Underwood jewels have been included in schwag bags in Hollywood; a jeweler of Underwood's "stature" shouldn't be so dependent on one weekend in September.

Jeweler's ads have been some of the real "gems" of television and radio in this region such as David Justus' 34 hour trip to Antwerp to save the jewelry customers of NW AR and beyond(which is another plus for Underwood one might believe in establishing a clientele beyond NW AR who might return each Septmeber to the lovely building along Dickson that houses his store) where he felt bad, he smelled bad, he just wanted to get some sleep...til he saw the DIAMONDS! Classic. And Underwood's famed "no leaky diamonds" campaign of yore or his new "beauty grade"-o-meter which will "prove" to you what a beautiful diamond you'll be purchasing. What is Underwood looking for here...a payoff? Does he want to share in any proceeds of BBB? What does he seek to gain by shooing away a 4 day event held within a 365(6) day period each year? I'm not convinced he's not looking for some kind of financial benefit other than attracting 300,000 potential customers to Dickson Street he seems to have no idea of how to attract to his store to make a purchase. Today's Harley riders are hardly the infamous crowd of Harley riders of yesterday who were afoul of the law and basically poor and unable to afford an "Underwood" diamond. Many well-off folks are the only folks who can afford a Harley these days. In other words, these folks have disposable income that could be used to purchase luxury items like Underwood's jewelry.

It's time to call Underwood's hand and ask him what it is he really hopes to gain by forcing BBB to (God forbid) Drake Field or wherever he believes it will continue to grow. The BB King concert I attended there could have turned into a drunken riot had the citizens who attended not displayed a great deal of patience exiting the one gate for all to enter or exit. Such great planning. Where else will this event be held in Fayetteville? BBB has farmed out venues to Randall Tyson Track complex, the NW AR Mall, and Drake Field . If the festival grows more, it will naturally spread to the whole city, but still must remain centered in downtown Fayetteville including Dickson Street to Underwood's chagrin. Underwood's complaint is getting such ink because he is a major advertiser in the region for media interests and this region's news outlets are not going to step on his toes and cause him to drop all ads for one outlet or other. His level of ad spending does betray how tough the business is, but he needs to level with everyone and truly EXPLAIN the damage to his business because it sounds like a big joke for him to whine about a 4 day period where Dickson Street is innundated with humanity and motor bikes.

All I've heard from Underwood and his supporter is noise. Time to hear the true aim of Underwood. It would be nice to hear some his private conversations about the subject which might betray other reasons for his disdain for the festival. He makes a dollars argument because it might engender more public sympathy for his private position which might have nothing to do with dollars.


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