You may have seen this listing: Scenic, South Dakota
That’s right. The whole town is for sale. For just under $800K. That’s less than the cost of a lot of houses. It’s less than the cost of paying Derek Jeter for a year. Heck, it’s less than the amount inherited from cousin Bertha! But is the town worth it? Would you buy it?
In a dream world, I would. Who wouldn’t want to own her own town? Just the thought of owning my own town makes me giddy with anticipation for what I would do with it. Bear with me for a few minutes as I indulge my imagination (and bottomless wallet).
Priority #1: Hire a good contractor to do the work. I have a neighbor/friend who not only is a contractor but his partner is an architect. I’m pretty sure I’d get a good rate, and I’ve seen his work first hand, so he’s at the top of my list to do the work.
Priority #2: Now that I’ve got the contractor and architect in place, it’s time to start attracting businesses. Since the town is only 46 acres, I’m not looking for big box stores. I want mom and pop shops. I want a small, independent book store. I want an ice cream shop. I want a hardware store a la Teen Wolf (the good, Michael J. Fox version, not the crappy MTV show). I want a diner that also serves vegetarian fare, grocery store, a clothing store and a gas station (fortunately, the bones for a grocery store and gas station are already there). There will also be a coffee/gourmet hot chocolate shop that boasts free wireless Internet; sort of like a Starbucks but again, a mom and pop shop. And I want to restore the local saloon and dancehall.
Priority #3: The restoration of the saloon and the dancehall. I think this could be the centerpiece of the town. Not just as a bar, but as a place for entertainment for the whole town. We’re talking concerts, movies, speakers, book fairs, pictures with Santa and the Easter bunny, charity events…pretty much one central place to hold these events.
Priority #4: Hire a great advertising/public relations firm for a huge advertising campaign. Since the town is on the way to Badlands National Park and Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, it’s sure to draw some attention with the right marketing strategy. The fact that town was owned by a rodeo legend (from what I’ve read) can definitely be a key element in this strategy. Sort of like what Lightening McQueen did for Radiator Springs.
Priority #5: Get the town on the public transportation line. Make it easier for people to get there from other locations. This is how the town will maintain an influx of visitors beyond those who are passing through on the way to other locations. Also, there will be free parking for those who chose to drive.
Priority #6: Hire a competent, qualified town manager. The town will collapse without proper management. Once it’s up and running, I want someone to oversee the day-to-day affairs of the town, work with the shop owners, visitors, public officials and anyone else involved with the town. Other hires, most likely on a part-time basis: a web designer for the town’s website, a blogger to keep the website flush with fresh information, and one law enforcement officer. Maybe two. I want to at least give the illusion of order.
Priority #7: Rename the town Janatown. This one is still up for debate.
So that would be my strategy should I purchase Scenic, SD. What would you do?