8 Reasons to Celebrate 2001
1 Alan Greenspan and the gang at the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee spent the latter part of 2000 seeing their shadow and giving us six more weeks of higher interest rates. A slowdown in retail sales, the entertainment industry, the automobile business, and lots of other sectors could pave the way for lower interest rates this year. If so, the stock market will greet this news with the glee usually reserved for a 60-degree August morning in Dallas.
2 The nation’s theater chains are in terrible shape. Overspending on monsterplexes has sent many of the exhibitors to bankruptcy court. This year, expect lots of single and twin cinemas to close as Chapter 11 filings get them out of long-term leases. Expect them to vacate area malls, too. So where can you go to see the latest release? Your couch.
This year, Dallas-based Blockbuster will link up with DSL providers to deliver videos directly to your home. No more empty shelves, rewinding, or running to the store to return what turns out to be an empty box. And no more late fees. Just crank up the Internet and pop the corn.
3 Couch potato joy No. 2: Home grocery deliverer GroceryWorks.com is half-owned by Safeway, which wholly owns Tom Thumb. What does that mean for you? It means that you can let your Reward Card do the walking. Now you can log on to www.groceryworks.com, enter your Reward Card number, and see a list of the last 250 items that you purchased during previous store visits. Then, if you want to reorder those items and have them delivered, all you have to do is click on the list. Of course, there is a drawback: Do you really want to be reminded of all the Haagen-Dazs you’ve eaten over the last couple of months?
4 Like a dieter resolved to drop 10 pounds, JCPenney has pledged to re-invent itself again. New CEO Allen Questrom (savior of Barney’s New York and turnaround artist for Federated Department Stores) says he’ll re-position the company over the next year or so. Into what? JC-Mart? Neiman-Penney? Whatever it is, we wish him well. JCPenney is a proud name and a great local asset. The stakes? Remember Woolworths? If anybody can get the Plano-based retailer moving again, it’s Questrom.
5 Never buy another CD again. Plano’s Panja is ready to roll out a new device that allows you to connect your stereo system directly to the Internet—without using a PC. Think of it as the world’s biggest jukebox right inside your living room for about four hundred bucks. The new Panja broadband connector will give you access to more than 300,000 MP3 songs for a monthly subscription of about $10. You’ll never have to slink into Sam Goody’s again to buy your Living Strings or Andre Kostelanetz albums. You can simply flip a switch and they’ll play for you in your living room.
6 Brush up on your high school French and dust off that beret! Europe could be a deal this summer. The weaker Euro has made everything about 20 percent cheaper on the Continent and airlines may make it cheaper to get there. When Air France begins daily nonstop service from DFW to Paris in May, they’ll add more than 200 seats per day to the service already available from American. Air France serves London with three daily flights, Frankfurt with two, and Zurich and Brussels with one each. Plan ahead, take the whole family, and do your best Chevy Chase imitation.
7 Thinking about a house on Lake Travis? Austin real estate could return to affordability this year. The downturn in dot.com stock prices, as well as the plunge in Dell stock, has eroded so much paper wealth that real estate experts are expecting to see plenty of big houses on the market in Travis County. Stock options that were swapped like S & H Green stamps are now being held like David Clyde rookie cards.
8 Quench your thirst, clean your windshield, and starch your shirt? One of the best new uses for real estate pads in North Texas has been the building of a new Bibbentuckers. With five area locations already, look for three new stores this year. Bibbentuckers cares for your clothes better than Mom, and if you don’t opt for the free pick-up and delivery, you can stay in your car sipping lemonade while they bring you the bundle. Bibbentuckers cleans your clothes, your windshield, and will put a pretty good dent in your Visa credit card limit. Good service ain’t cheap.
Number of Texas-based companies to make Fortune’s Global 500
Average revenue of the Texas-based companies to make Fortune’s Global 500
Highest revenue of a Texas-based company to make Fortune’s Global 500 (Exxon Mobil, No. 3)
Lowest revenue of a Texas-based company to make Fortune’s Global 500 (El Paso Energy, No. 465)
Number of DFW-based companies to make Fortune’s Global 500
Number of Houston-based companies to make Fortune’s Global 500
Number of Austin-based companies to make Fortune’s Global 500
Number of Texas-based companies in energy industry to make Fortune’s Global 500
Number of Texas-based companies in high-tech industry to make Fortune’s Global 500
Business analyst David Johnson has covered the Dallas business scene for more than 20 years for WFAA-TV Channel 8, KRLD radio 1080-AM, and for Public Radio International’s Marketplace.