Is the glass half full or half empty? Maybe itís half empty with a few new splashes. Maybe itís half full with a few spills.
However you describe it, Glen Roseís economy is in a state of flux. One week a business closes. The next, one opens. One attraction has trouble drawing a crowd. Another is packed with visitors.
To be sure, the shaky national economy has hammered local businesses, especially those that depend on tourism. So much of peopleís feelings about the state of the economy are based on psychology. If consumers feel confident in their jobs and optimistic about their future, they are far more inclined to turn loose of their money, take vacations, buy things with their expendable income and even splurge once in a while.
If they feel uncertain about their jobs and pessimistic, they are more inclined to hunker down, save instead of spend, cut up their credit cards, stay home and start selling assets rather than buying non-essential things.
Booms and busts in certain industries also have had an effect. When the Barnett Shale gas business was booming, Glen Roseís sales tax revenues shot up. When the companies that led the drilling mania withdrew or downsized, sales taxes fell. The drop looked all the more dramatic because sales had climbed during good times.
When the stock market was humming and investments paid nice returns some years back. local government entities could depend on interest income in years past. Thatís just about dried up this year.
So itís no coincidence that no one in local government wants to raise taxes even though that could mean more cutbacks in services.
But there are some positives that offset the negatives in Glen Roseís economic picture. When Andersonís closed downtown, Jeannie Lane stepped in to buy the building as an investment. She already owns the Campbell building. Clearly, Lane believes in Glen Roseís potential. Sheís trying to lease the spaces and I expect sheíll have some tenants before long.
The Rustic Rhinestone moved from its large space on the squareís northwestern corner to the former Sadlerís retail space across the square. Sadlerís recently vacated its space next to Three Rivers Restaurant and owner Brenda Polley is now selling her Western wares at targeted shows and events. In turn, Sue and David Polley opened a comedy club and entertainment venue in the space, with music and dancing on Friday nights and stand-up comedy acts on Saturdays. Who would have ever thought Glen Rose would even have a comedy club, a form of entertainment usually found in cities?
Hereís another sign Glen Rose is changing óSunshine Donuts is now also selling sushi. Do you want a sausage roll today or a California roll? I used to say that one way to tell when a small town was transitioning into a city was when a sushi bar opened. We donít have a sushi bar yet ó you still have to go Miyako in Granbury for that ó but I never thought Iíd see the day when Iíd walk into a restaurant in Glen rose and order eel. Donít make a face; itís actually good. Just think of it as a really skinny fish. And most of the fish in the sushi rolls is cooked, not raw.
Perhaps one of the most encouraging signs in Glen Rose is the new Hollywood and Vine restaurant behind the Somervell Courthouse Annex. Sure, itís hot inside, but itís got a distinctive ambiance, good food, live music and an outdoor seating area that beckons, even in August.
Last Friday night the place was full. That could be thanks to Jimmy Gosdinís fried catfish and the sounds of the Unreal McCoys. (See related photos on A9.) The restaurant is a good addition to Glen Rose for visitors AND locals. We need more places that tie the two together since more tourists are staying put this year and a lot of us donít have the money to take a vacation, either. But youíll feel transported to a balmy beach somewhere at Hollywood and Vine.
Another promising sign economically is that the proposed expansion of the Comanche Peak Nuclear Plant appears to be moving forward. Hopefully, lessons learned from the plantís construction 20 years ago will help the city prepare for the expected influx of people and their needs for rental space and services. Already some folks in town have been buying houses, fixing them up and leasing them. But a lot more rental properties will be needed.
The downtown square, unfortunately, now looks half empty with the Rustic Rhinestone out of its former large space and the Western photo shop next door closed. But Kelly Hoodenpyleís Paluxy River Trading Company, full of Glen Rose souvenirs and the T-shirts and caps she designed, is a long-overdue retail concept. The Up Against the Wall outdoor theater continues to draw people downtown every Friday night. Next door, Kim Cecil has reopened Earthly Possessions. That end of the square is hopping.
One of the most exciting ideas to come along in Glen Rose in a long time is its first film festival, which opens the end of next week (see related story on page 1A). The Glen Rose Neo-Relix Film Festival is another event that locals and visitors can enjoy and it stands to expose Glen Rose to a national and international audience.
I could go on, but the point is that Glen Rose is positioning itself to take advantage of the growth and stronger economy that eventually will come its way. We may all have to hunker down for a while longer, but itís good to know this city still has some risk-takers who believe Glen Rose is worth the investment ó and that theyíre here for the long ride, even with its ups and downs.