March 2- 8, 2006
loose canonFool on the Tube
Fattah is apparently willing to suffer a lot of excoriation for a few minutes of national exposure. Frankly, Fattah deserves better, and so does Philadelphia.
Not that the segment wasn't watchable. It's sort of amusing to see Fattah swallow his disgust after being asked if his name is Jewish, or if an employment bill he sponsored makes him a "job pimp." Funny is a clown walking into a wall, once or twice. But it became pathetic to watch Fattah hunker down for an extended beating, as Colbert mangled facts and belittled the city.
Self-deprecation is one thing; public humiliation is another.
Still, even before the segment aired, Fattah's handlers sent out several e-mails promoting his appearance. Though on reflection, Fattah sounds almost apologetic. "We really don't have a broadcast medium anymore; we have sort of a narrowcast," Fattah recently opined to the Times. "So you've got to look for opportunities."
Fattah's stint as a sputtering fool is furnishing an opportunity to ignite his still-unofficial race for mayor. And some political pundits are saying that doing this showthat is, being done by Colbertmight be what it takes to reach Generation Y.
I don't think so. There's an old saying in public relations that any publicity is good. But it ain't true. Fattah came off about as hip as a matron aunt in a go-go skirt. What's next, an appearance on Survivor? A guest shot on Jackass?
Still, I admit that this stunt did raise Fattah's profile. And I would forgive this faux pas, depending on Fattah's next steps. Because now it's time to raise the curtain on Fattah's vision for the future Philadelphia, which has been conspicuously murky.
This publicity stunt bought some buzz, and it also bought some time. In the last couple weeks, Fattah's been testing his talking points on the local press, including CP's editorial staff. (Since the sessions were off the record, I've promised not to speak about the substance of what he said.)
So while Fattah has been romancing his $100,000 funders, he's played the fool on the tube. He's garnered exposure without having to show his hand.
OK. Fine. But it's time to take off the funny hat, Congressman, and show the folks what you've got.
The $6 Million Market
It's the little co-op that could. Only Weaver's Way Food Co-op isn't so little anymore. And in some ways it's outperforming the industry leader, Whole Foodswhose monthly food bills for some are beginning to look like a second mortgage.
At a recent meeting of the Sustainable Business Network, Weaver's Way's Glenn Bergman ran some numbers for the modest corner store in Mt Airy. Food markets, like other retail businesses, are judged by how many dollars are generated per square foot. Last year, the 3,000-square-foot market grossed about $6 million dollars, which works out to a phenomenal $2,000 per square foot.
How phenomenal? An average supermarket grosses about $400 per square foot; Whole Foods tops the list nationally at about $700 per square foot. Weaver's Way beat Whole Foods by nearly a factor of three.
But unlike Whole Foods, the Co-op buys as much produce as possible from local farmers, and its profits remain in the community. Last year, the food industry as a whole clocked a net profit margin of less than 1.5 percent. Weaver's Way turned in a 3 percent margin, netting about $180,000, which was returned to the 3,000 families who own the co-op.
Now, Weaver's Way may not be less expensive than Whole Foods. Quality food isn't cheap. But unlike Whole Foods, money spent at the Co-op starts and stays in the local economywhich makes us all a whole lot richer.