William Appling, owner of Antique and Estates located in LoDa on 10 S. Conception St., was recently selected to sell furniture, artwork and china by the historic Magee Farm Estate. The RSVP event was held Sept. 4. Examples of items up for auction included a portrait of Charles Morse, Revolutionary War minuteman, as well as pieces of furniture from Sturdevant and Tisdale families who occupied the former antebellum home and museum.

The Magee Farm, also known as the Jacob Magee House, was a historic residence in Kushla, Ala., north of Mobile. Built by Jacob Magee in 1848, the wood-frame structure is an example of Gulf Coast cottage style architecture. The house is best known as the site of preliminary arrangements for the surrender of the last Confederate States of America (CSA) Army east of the Mississippi River.

The Magee Farm was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 11, 1988. In 2004, mainly due to efforts from the Civil War Preservation Trust, the farm was opened as a popular museum regarded as a “must see” locale by Tripadvisor.com.

Shuttered in 2010 due to a lack of public support and declining revenues, it was then tentatively put up for sale as well as landing that year on the Alabama Historical Commission’s “Places in Peril” list before meeting its final demise and liquidation in 2014.

Local sunglass manufacturer caters to “Southern sports”

Breakline Polarized recently opened as a new high-end sunglass manufacturer and wholesaler based out of Mobile. Bry Shields, co-founding partner, is a native of the Port City and also works as an insurance agent at Lyon Fry Cadden.

The Breakline brand markets to “Southern sports” according to Shields, which they define as anyone who enjoys outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing and boating. The products retail in several local outlets: McCoy Outdoors, Springhill Ace Hardware and Spoke-N-Trail, in addition to other shops around the state.

“These stores selected Breakline because of their uniqueness and the fact that it’s a local brand. All frames are made in Italy and built using Grilamid TR-90; a very strong yet lightweight and flexible material. The lenses were designed by Carl Zeiss Optics, which is the same company that makes industry-leading rifle scopes, binoculars and camera lenses,” Shields said.

According to Shields, the styles of the product were designed around the “lower Alabama lifestyle” with two different models also named accordingly: Romar (after Romar Beach) and Perdido (after Perdido Key).

Validity of Economic Impact Studies examined at WLC

This week, the World Leisure Congress (WLC) arrived for the first time on U.S. soil with Mobile as the host. Hundreds of academics from organizations in the fields of leisure, recreation, tourism and hailing from 40 plus countries are attending the event.

With it reported previously that MBCVB president and CEO Al Hutchinson had significantly ratcheted down local monetary tourism impact expectations from the conference to “break even” status, it’s apropos that a WLC symposium will examine the validity of these highly regarded reports.

Presented Thursday by local economist Semoon Chang with The Gulf Coast Center for Impact Studies in conjunction with international economists Katarina Petrovcikova and Hwa-Kyung Kim, the presentation is entitled “Uses and Abuses of Economic Impact Studies in Tourism.”

Lagniappe briefly spoke with Dr. Chang for a synopsis of the seminar.

Lagniappe: Why do organizations prepare impact studies?
Chang: There are three reasons. First, organizations – especially large ones – want to know how their operations affect their community with no interest in seeking financial assistance. Second, organizers of short-term events such as festivals and tournaments want to show economic impact to maximize financial assistance they are seeking from state and local governments. Third, public sectors need to know ramifications of economic impact before making decisions on the amount of financial incentives they may give to new and existing industries or organizations.

Lagniappe: What’s included in impact estimations and what are a few examples?
Chang: Impacts are usually estimated for employment, total expenditures, and tax revenues. Direct impact means economic gain newly added to the area. For example, if Airbus creates 600 new jobs, that’s a direct impact in employment. If Austal USA received $30 million from the U.S. government for expansion, that would be a direct impact in expenditures.

Lagniappe: Is there anything to be careful about when estimating direct impacts?
Chang: An impact area needs to be clearly defined. It is usually a city, county, metro area, region, or a state. If impact calculations involve expenditures, expenditures should be limited to new expenditures made in the impact area.

Lagniappe: How should local policy makers use impact studies?
Chang: Impact studies of short-term events are likely to overestimate their actual economic effect, suggesting that policy makers who utilize these studies need to be aware of the pitfalls inherent in them. My suggestion is that subsidy debates should focus more on the public benefits and costs and less on measured economic impacts, as they relate to the enhanced quality of life that may be generated by these events.

Commercial Real Estate Moves

Supercuts recently opened in Fairhope at 410 Eastern Shore Shopping Center in the Big Lots Shopping Space. The new shop is owned and operated by franchisee Jenny Ross, employs six local stylists and is the first Supercuts to open in Fairhope.  

Effective Sept. 25, Prudential Cooper & Co. will become Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Cooper & Co. Inc. according to CEO and owner Ron Morrow. As reported in the press, Morrow emphasized that this is a brand change. The company will remain locally owned.

Above and beyond their current suite of real estate products, the new network will offer an international relocation service; potentially beneficial with the influx of AM/NS Calvert, Airbus USA and Austal new hires (among other international suitors) acclimating to the area.

A 41,117-square-foot Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market store is planned to open soon in a corner spot on North University Boulevard, due south of Moffett Road. This will be the third store of its kind to open in Mobile County. Smaller than the supercenters, collectively the massive discount retailer has a nine-store footprint in the local area.