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Column:The Gray Line Tour

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / June 29, 1998

My nest-egg planned

All this talk about the upswing in the Louisiana economy, despite the plummeting oil prices, brings to my mind that old fantasy about starting my own business. Of course, before I could ever do something like that, I’dhave to first decide what kind of business to form.

People, in the past, have told me I should start my own newspaper. I have aready answer for that one, though. Being a newspaper reporter, I make theproverbial church-mouse look affluent.

To start a new newspaper takes a lot of ready money. There’s very fewlenders who would be willing to advance much money for a business such as that, with little chance of a quick return for the investment.

For instance, there’s renting office space, buying or leasing office equipment, hiring and paying employees and starting a marketing campaign to get a lot of readers very quickly.

Buying an existing newspaper presents another set of problems. Forexample, if one finds a newspaper owner willing to sell, there must be some problem, such as falling ad revenues, or the owner wouldn’t be selling. And, I’ve been told, in starting a newspaper, one must be prepared,mentally as well as financially, to lose thousands of dollars in the first year alone. The trend in this country anyway has been for newspapers toconsolidate or close and many two-paper towns have cut back to one paper, usually the morning edition.

So, getting back to my original topic, if I were of the entrepreneural bent, what could I go into for a fast and high income? Someone once asked Dillinger why he robbed banks. “That’s where themoney is,” he is said to have responded.

With that in mind, my thoughts usually centered around a business which could support a college crowd. I look around college campuses and seewhat is usually found near a college and I came up with three very good ones – copy service center, laundomat and coffee shop. College studentscertainly make use of cheap copy centers, they all must do laundry and they need a late-night hangout, especially around final-exam time and when term papers are due.

Of course, since most college campuses have all these businesses already, I need a gimmick – something to make mine stand out – so I’ve decided should I ever start my own business, it would a combination of the three.

A customer could get some coffee and pastry, do their laundry and get their copies, all in one handy location.

I’ve heard of such places before, usually called something along the line of “Duds and Suds,” a combination bar and laundromat.

Mine (and don’t you dare steal the name, please!) would be the “Clean Copy Cafe.”Start one near LSU or Tulane, register a trademark, set up franchises and I could give up late-night parish council meetings.

Any interested investors out there? Anybody?

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