Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Empty big boxes are finding new purposes in Minnesota"

"Abandoned stores are coming back to life as new owners fill the space with museums, mini-golf and other reuses."
A correspondent writes,
"Big box retailer museum ride - have little recreations of circuit city, best buy, borders, etc and a train that drives patrons through while playing music"


Anonymous said...

Off-topic: I enjoyed your review of Seeds of Wealth and ordered a copy. A few of the value blogs I read have written about Treasury Wine Estates recently, so your timing was excellent.

Can you think of any modern investments that are similar to wine in having high returns coupled with a long payback? Tech companies would seem to fit the bill, but they have greater uncertainty, and the public markets have probably shortened paybacks-- e.g. a successful tech founder can cash out with an IPO instead of having to wait for the business to mature.

theyenguy said...

All of the empty big boxes have filled up here in Bellingham, WA.

Bellingham while not having a strong economy has a rebounding one due to Canadians who come south across the Border to purchase Gasoline at Costco and
Apparel at Bellis Fair Mall.

Empty Big Box stores filled up with a Winco Foods, a Carpet Retailer, and a local Credit Union seeking office space.

MrGotham said...


Pharma would be the best analog to vineyards. Pipelines would be another - they take 3-4 years (at least) to plan, permit and build, and then earn returns tied to 20 year leases.

Nathan said...


"Where Do Interest Rates Come From?" provides an interesting survey of different theories for how interest rates are determined.

Also, while I'm not sympathetic to the (neo-Marxist) political perspective of the blog, I did find this article on employment interesting. The "paying people not to riot" rationale helps explain the relative lack of controversy associated with having ~46M people on SNAP right now.

CP said...

James, very good question and this is a good thread.

One thing that comes to mind is hardwood timber. It's 30 years plus for black walnut boards, and the rate of return is much better than a 30 year bond.

Note that the upfront cost of hardwood timber is the seedlings and the labor of pruning. Land cost is almost irrelevant.

I quibble with pharma because it's a total crapshoot whether the drugs will "work" even by the FDA definition of work. Our pharma industry is a total fraud, producing these lifetime annuity symptom pills for lifestyle diseases.

Pipelines seems like a better example, although still the risk that price differentials won't be there?

With grapes, at least you'll have grapes to eat if you plant them.

Interest rates - I have expressed many times, and I think the evidence (as recently as today) continues to support that the Fed's QE caused interest rates to be *higher* than they would otherwise be.

AllanF said...

Regarding Black Walnut trees, a friend from college (this was 20 yrs ago) had his and all his cousin's tuition covered by his grandfather's black walnut tree farm.

The Grandfather had planted it on a "spare" 10 acres some 30-40 years prior. As each grandkid went off to college the grandfather timbered trees and sold the lumber to cover that year's tuition.

I think biologists might call that k-selection. :)

CP said...

Allan, that's a great story. A big walnut trunk that's 40 years old and was well pruned is worth a lot of money. Ten acres of 40 year old walnuts is worth a fortune.

AllanF said...

:) I'll say when he first told me I was a bit skeptical. Seemed a little "just too so," but as he complained about all the mowing it required and all the mowers his grandfather had worn out over the years it lent a certain amount of credibility to the story. That, and the guy was not the blow-hard type.

A spare 10 acres in one of the midwest "Big Ten" states in the late 40's or early 1950's wouldn't have been too hard to come by, and if not close to a major city, not too hard to hang onto.

CP said...

That's great about the mowing.

Doing that and pruning them to grow straight is what creates the valuable lumber.

If he mowed them when he was a kid he helped earn the tuition assistance.

Good story.

Audrey Greenwood said...

I actually think it's a great idea to repurpose old buildings and get as much use from the empty Big Boxes now that they are no longer in operation!