Monday, February 27, 2012

INTRODUCING - The Greater Perimeter Business Expo

The Dunwoody Business Expo was such a huge smash in 2011 that it has been expanded and improved for 2012.

This year, Dunwoody's chamber has joined forces with the Sandy Springs chamber for a single event showcasing the best of both business communities.

June 1, 2012
Westin Atlanta Perimeter North Hotel
7 Concourse Parkway, Sandy Springs

I was tasked with creating a neutral palette that would showcase the company logos of the participants, along with the usual functionality of online registration and documents.  Appearance-wise, it is 180 degrees opposite the Dunwoody Music Festival. It is still as easy to edit and maintain for the staff as the rest of the Dunwoody Chamber network of websites.

Keep checking back for updates:  this initial launch is the skeleton.  More content will be added by staff of both of the chambers in coming weeks.  Information on this year's awards is still in development.  Personally, I thought the highlight of last year was the Egizio - Priluck Facebook Chicago-Style Vote-Getting Showdown To The Death for People's Choice.  Award contest structures are more complicated when you get more institutions involved so let's hope The Powers That Be bite the bullet and open up the awards aspect as they did last year.  Sandy Springs doesn't know what they missed!  As soon as those decisions get made, I'll be the one putting up the ballots.  Don't crash my server when you vote, OK, folks?

This Expo, hosted by these chambers is a huge boost to our extensive small-business community along the northern Perimeter.  Small businesses have proportionately small budgets so their advertising is going to be based on meeting people in person and forming relationships, rather than extensive ad campaigns with TV commercials and the like.  There are several ways to be involved depending on your budget and schedule.  Booths or tables can be reserved online.  Luncheon and reception tickets are available, another opportunity to make new contacts.  There are three different seminars being given.  (There's limited seating for those so sign up ASAP.  U snooze, U loose.)  Most of all - just make time to attend and visit with the exhibitors and other attendees.  My fellow entrepreneurs know that every contact helps so make the most of this annual opportunity.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

F-Commerce gets an F from Bloomberg

A professional acquaintance brought this article to my attention on LinkedIn.  It caught my attention because I'm wrapping the first phase of creating an e-commerce site for a Dunwoody business.

Whenever I meet with a new customer they inevitably ask about how necessary social media is for their sales.  My answer is always the same:  a lot of it depends on my customer.  Do they want to be involved with Facebook, Twitter, et al?  Or are they not going to spend any time on it if it's set up?  If you're not going to commit time and effort to your social media promotion, then it's not the place for you.  If you do make that commitment, then it's extremely powerful for getting attention and generating buzz for your product or service.  I've said this numerous times right here on this blog that social media is not the be-all and end-all of advertising.  At the first Dunwoody Business Expo, we learned that having a Facebook page is not a guarantee of success and not having one is not a guarantee of failure.  A key point is, whatever advertising you do for your business, commit to it and be involved with it to make it successful.  Another key point is, wherever you advertise, no social media will replace the custom stand-alone website.

Here's the proof from Bloomberg online this past Friday:  Retailers Shut Facebook Storefonts Amid Apathy

The original premise was:  everyone's on Facebook, so your customers are on Facebook, that means you can get them to shop on Facebook.  Right?

Apparently not.

Some of the quotes in the article sum up the limitations Facebook has when it comes to commercial enterprises.

“There was a lot of anticipation that Facebook would turn into a new destination, a store, a place where people would shop,” Mulpuru said in a telephone interview. “But it was like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.” 

Customers had no incentive to shop at Gamestop (GEM)’s Facebook store rather than the company’s regular website because purchasing online is already convenient, said Ashley Sheetz, who is the Grapevine, Texas-based company’s vice president of marketing and strategy. 

“We just didn’t get the return on investment we needed from the Facebook market, so we shut it down pretty quickly,” Sheetz said in a telephone interview. “For us, it’s been a way we communicate with customers on deals, not a place to sell.” 

BOLO - do-bads casing Dunwoody

Child walking dog approached by suspicious man (WSB-TV Channel 2)

From aHa Connection: Suspicious people in Dunwoody

Don't hesitate to call 911 if anything looks out of place. Whether it's a vehicle cruising a neighborhood or salespeople that just don't seem right, call. I've gotten over my concerns of "maybe DPD will think I'm a moron if I'm worried about a couple of people on the street." They won't. Call and let the police check it out. If it's nothing, no harm done. But a phone call can prevent burglaries, thefts, or worse.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dunwoody: What is the state of the city?

If my better half gets home from work early enough I plan to be at the annual State of the City on Tuesday.

This address is going to be critical for a number of reasons:  Mike is setting the tone for his administration and it's his first chance to officially show that he's putting his campaign promises into action.  Stop buying, start fixing....

There's a major shift in the thinking about our government between the election process and official events like this one.  During the election there were many exhorting us to pay attention to ALL of the city council elections because our system of local government is a "weak mayor" where the mayor has the same voting power as the rest of the council.    Yet when issues arise - or problems, like executive session becoming a sieve - the wagons circle and the mayor alone is expected to be the voice of the government.

Mike has a couple of situations in front of him right out of the gate that will test his campaign promises and how he will be able to follow through.  The current discussion Kerry wrote of on his blog about Dunwoody's stormwater infrastructure (which he also alluded to in his response to my own survey of candidates) is a prime example.  It has never been a secret that the stormwater system was one in a long line of systems neglected by DeKalb county.  It's also not a secret that the City took over that responsibility.  Too big for our city government, but guaranteed to be neglected further by the county.  There's no cheap or easy way out of this.  So why was Council buying up land for "parks", that were never going to be parks, when the stormwater system needed serious attention and investment?  Mike can't speak to that personally - but four other council members can.  I wish the state of the city address left time open to the council members involved in the land buying decision to explain how they chose their priorities.

I would also like to hear how the open drainage ditches connected to the water works on Peeler factor in to the stormwater repairs and upgrades.  Some of these ditches (not natural creeks, but ditches designed for runoff) are essentially manmade ravines 40 feet deep and run in and out of private property.  Is there a plan to upgrade these too?  Close them in?  Leave them be?  What's the answer?

The other issue at the front of the city's mind are leaks from confidential executive session.  Everyone has a story about how they heard something from somewhere that originated with city hall that was supposed to be confidential.  That's the problem:  if it's confidential, we're not supposed to know about it.  Not even once, not even one person.  Yet so many of us can point to at least one episode in three years of existence.

IMHO, this one is an issue of "growing pains".  If a private HOA or civic group spills some gossip, it's not quite as big a deal because it's private groups with limited legal liability.  But now that we're a city - one that many would like to see fail and cease to exist - every little detail matters.  There is no law or standard or edict so small that it can be ignored when we're sitting on the DOJ's radar.  If you're working at city hall in any capacity you have to be aware of and respect every last detail of the law and ethical standards especially confidentiality.  If you can't get out of the community organization mindset, if you can't resist the urge to gossip or vent - whether you're elected, appointed, or hired - then you want to have a serious think about whether working for the City of Dunwoody is where you want to be.

Mike's decision to bring in Bob Wilson as an "investigator" is a good sign that he's not going to allow Dunwoody to get sunk by idle gossip.  Ideally, Wilson's role would be as an educator in what government confidentiality is down to the smallest detail, rather than sniffing out the rat-fink.  Ideally, the person(s) who slipped up and ran their mouths out of line would man up and admit it.

But no, that doesn't seem like it's going to happen.  The wagons are circled and everything is about "confidentiality" now that there's a problem.  These person(s) are putting Mike in the position of having to be Mayor Hard-Ass when his and the council's attention could be directed to other pressing issues and our finances could be spent elsewhere.

Now that the real estate genie is out of the bottle, it's time to stop hiding behind the "confidentiality" curtain and address the questions that have been raised.  If the land the city purchased wasn't going to be a park or other recreational facility, why was it a priority?  Per Lundsten, if the land is now public property, does council have a right to keep discussions of its use and/or disposal in executive session?  Are we going to have to keep dealing with special-interest priorities taking center stage when documented infrastructure needs can't be ignored?  If so, please explain why.  If not, how is council going to reassess their priorities in Mike's administration?  Dodging the questions will only make the speculation worse.  Just deal with it openly and the speculation vanishes.

Finally, I'd like to hear Mike's POV on Chris Pike's economic development report.  The conclusions at the end talk about how the city should diversify its income to ensure stability.  That means the private sector has to be diversified too.   Hopefully his comments will include something to the effective of  "get out of the way and let our citizens have as much flexibility as possible in making a living and as many options as possible in case the large corporation(s) we entice to relocate here changes their mind and moves away or folds or has massive layoffs after arriving."  The old adage "don't put all of your eggs in one basket" applies here.

A girl can dream.  ;-)  We'll find out Tuesday night if it comes true.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Geekify your wall outlets!

Maybe not the hottest news of the week but I couldn't resist this article forwarded by a friend of mine..

Mobile devices have become such a huge part of our lives and they always have to be plugged in somewhere.  Behold, the new wall outlet that will accomodate a standard USB power plug!

I'm already planning to install these outlets around the house:  outlets next to night stands - especially in the guest room.  Near desks and writing tables.  Kitchen table.   Any place where the kids camp out with their games.   Even that plug in the floor where my husband or I will stretch out with our laptops to catch up on work.

Best of all you don't have to lose one of your standard plugs to an adapter.

Follow the easy DIY instructions to upgrade your sockets.  Don't miss the point about USB sockets requiring a deeper box.

I plan to use the Power2U sockets because the USB can be closed when not in use.  Important when installing these in the floor and/or you have kids (both 2- and 4-legged) running around.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Independent We Stand

If you've visited before, you've probably noticed the first image in the left sidebar.  Independent We Stand is a nationwide movement of locally-owned businesses that is dedicated to educating the public about the benefits of "buying local".  While large corporations have an important role, small businesses have one as well.  Small businesses return more of their income back into their local communities.  Shopping at locally-owned businesses where possible directly supports your own neighbors.

IWS is building a nationwide database of locally-owned businesses, searchable by city, state, and ZIP code.   Visitors to this site are specifically looking to shop at local enterprises and support the local economy.   If you search on "30338", you'll find some familiar names:  including yours truly, the Happy Sumo restaurant at Perimeter Pointe, the Ace Hardware in Dunwoody Village, and the Dunwoody Tavern, and many others.

Your listing is free, with no strings attached.  You can have a listing even if you don't have a website.   Local means locally owned - whether home based or brick-and mortar.  Since we local operations don't have huge advertising budgets every extra bit of ad space makes a huge difference.  Any questions?  Drop them an email, ask for Bill Brunelle, the project manager and tell him I sent you.  Bill is a cool guy.

While we're on the topic of local businesses, stay tuned for info coming soon on Dunwoody's business expo.  Lots of little fingers are very busy on that event.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Random Small Biz Samples

The old Borders' bookstore at Perimeter Point was the recent home of the Rhea Lana's Consignment sale.  This could be a step in the direction I blogged earlier about Dunwoody using one of these open spaces as a permanent community marketplace.

The closed Blockbusters' next to Azima salon has a new tenant:  Wellstreet Urgent Care.  This chain will be visiting the DHA board meeting tonight to seek endorsement of a variance.  Stay tuned.  (News story on this chain's expansion into metro Atlanta.)

RIP Oscar's Villa Capri.  Technically in Sandy Springs but had a huge Dunwoody following.  I loved Oscar's because he took care of us like family.  When my 2nd child was born, all I wanted when I was finally allowed to eat was veal scallopini from Oscar's.  My husband called, explained the situation, and it was hot and ready to go by the time he got all the way over there.  Nothing tastes better than a meal you have on the brain right after you give birth.  Men - you gotta trust me on this one.

Congrats to Alon's,  d'Vine, and E 48th Street Market for their placement in's Top 10 Wine Bars in Atlanta.  (Article in Patch.) reviews restaurants and travel services all over the USA.  Placement in these listings is bound to bring more visitors - and their spending money - into town.

Marlow's Tavern is an Atlanta-based chain looking to move into part of Calico Corners' in the Village.  Again, they're visiting the DHA tonight so we'll learn what they're planning to do shortly.  Unlike Wellstreet above, Dunwoody is not listed in their locations yet so this may not be a done deal.

Finally, the Dunwoody Bakery is evolving into a Coffee Shoppe.  Nicely done, folks.  Ever since Starbucks pulled out of Orchard Park there has been a gap needing to be filled - a place to kick back with a cup 'o joe and a sweet.  Along with the gluten-free baked goods they've filled two niches in one shot.  The free WiFi is a great hook.  Almost necessary in this day and age.  And they're still hiring.

Note to city hall - the majority of the businesses in town that are making news or getting settled are based in or around Atlanta and some were born right here in Dunwoody.  In your rush to bring in large corporations to hire the "well educated" work force as stated in Pike's economic report, don't forget the home-grown industries.  They're more likely to stay put in Dunwoody - and their owners can will vote!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The last hope for getting to the bottom of DCSS

"I believe that these are things the school system can take care of themselves as long as someone is watching to make sure that they are making the appropriate progress." 
--DeKalb Co. DA Robert James

"We've gotta get out of this place...."

"... if it's the last thing we ever do...."

Thank you John for showing up w/ your camera.  I'm glad I had a full work day yesterday.

What bothers me the most is at the beginning when the representatives state that there were no maps presented by "the school board", and that there was no communication.  There was at least one map, presented by Nancy and 2 of her colleagues.  Some people call the delegates' statements "lying".

I can accept that politics is dirty.  I can accept that people are going to get pissed and in each others' faces in official settings. I've done it myself and our own elected and appointed officials have squared off with me a time or two.  But at the end of the day we're all human beings who care about the same things even if we have different approaches.  My parents didn't raise me to behave as badly as the people here.    Thank you, DeKalb Delegation, for giving Dunwoody (Chamblee? Doraville? Anyone?  Bueller?) even more ammunition to support dividing the school districts.  If this is how DeKalb behaves when it comes to planning education, then for the sake of our resident families, our communities have to find a way to separate ourselves from this hopeless government by any legal and ethical means necessary.

If my gentle readers would kindly excuse me, I'm going to go throw up now.  Have a good weekend.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Nancy Jester tweeting live from DeKalb Delegation meeting

The live tweeting is over.  Below is an image of Nancy's messages from the DeKalb Delegation meeting (thanx for the correction, Bob)

School Board Redistricting (updated)

Dunwoody has to find a way to either distance itself from the corruption that has taken over the school system, or overcome it.  I have no idea what will accomplish this so I am leaving it to people who know more than I do on this topic.  Feel free to post in the comments if you have an idea, because I am fresh out.

Excerpted from DeKalb School Watch Two:

On Tuesday (yesterday), a new map (the Mosby Map) for the DeKalb Board of Education (BOE) was approved by the DeKalb legislative delegation sub-committee. This map has 5 single member districts, instead of the 7 districts most voters were expecting. You can view what the Mosby Map looks like by clicking the photo above.  The X’s show where the  5 board members whose terms will continue live.  As you can see, the reps will be heavily concentrated in south DeKalb.
The moment this map is approved, you will hear a loud sucking sound as property taxes will be raised to the maximum amount by the BOE (thanks to gerrymandering, 4 of the 5 members live in South DeKalb).  North DeKalb property owners who pay the highest taxes that support DeKalb County School System and DeKalb County will be victims of taxation without duly elected representation.  Meanwhile, South DeKalb property values continue to decline as a direct result of the greed and ignorance of those who make up the majority of the BOE.

Full Article

I'm adding on to this post because I wrote this after midnight while exhausted from a very long day and preparing for an even longer one today.  One last check of my usual online rounds left me utterly gobsmacked at the suggestion of a 5-member BOE.  So much for getting some extra sleep in advance of today's work.

My husband and I moved here in 2004 with his job relocation.  That was the year Lewis was appointed Superintendent.  We deliberately chose this area for the schools, especially the elementary school, thinking ahead to raising our family.  In the amount of time it took for us to get settled in our home, learn our community, start having our children, get the eldest through preschool, and make decisions about kindergarten, (just over 7 years) the Central Office made such a precipitous decline it ended in RICO indictments and test scores across the county landing in the basement.  Ultimately we decided to send our children to Catholic school for many reasons, but the shenanigans at the Central Office played a key role in that decision.

Whether or not you have children currently attending DeKalb County public schools is irrelevant in this discussion.  If you reside in and pay taxes within the boundaries of DeKalb County, this is your fight.  I believe the majority of the inmates at the Central Office asylum will not be happy until Dunwoody suffers from the same poverty, despair, and failure that the worst parts of the county experience now.  That's not impossible.  How we live in our community depends on people wanting to live here.  Bad school leadership means the decline of the home values some will go to extremes to protect. If the school system is dragged down by wasted spending and nepotism at the expense of the students' education, then all of the squabbling we have about O/I zoning, NS1 zoning, attracting large corporations, mom-and-pop small business, home business, and ozzie-and-harriet-residential ideals will be irrelevant.

You want to protect your home values?  Speak up now to protect our schools.  At this time, it's that easy.

I agree with Nancy Jester's presentation in her blog and with John's letter on his blog.  I've submitted this to the DeKalb delegation via email.

While engaging the current battle, there's still a larger war on.  I repeat, Dunwoody has to find a way to distance itself from the culture of failure that has become DeKalb schools central leadership.    Otherwise the future of our city may be in serious doubt.  Tom, Fran:  you're on.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dunwoody City Council - The Musical!

If this doesn't make any sense, track down the parents of any school-age child and they will explain Phineas and Ferb to you.

The lyrics are on the video's YouTube page.

Many thanks for the inspiration to Rick Callihan and Bob Lundsten and their latest epistles.

FRAUD ALERT - In time for tax season

The latest fraud emails going around are spoofs of Intuit financial services.  Everyone's spazzing about taxes and records and returns so anything from Intuit is going to jump the needle on the anxiety meter.

Intuit's official online security center fraud listings.  Most recent alert was posted yesterday.

As always, when you get an email that appears to be from any of your financial services:  stop, breathe, and DON'T click on any links.  Also remember that no legitimate financial institution will ask for your password.

Best bet:  always call your financial institution at the customer service number listed on your account materials or credit/debit card to determine if there are any issues.  Do forward the email to your financial institution if possible so that they can warn other customers about the fraud attempt.

(Jeff - I got the tax organizer and I'm working on it.  Will get those papers in MUCH earlier this year!)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Oh What a Night ... Taste of Dunwoody 2012 Recap

Pictures are worth a thousand words so I'll keep the words to a minimum.
Thank you to Dunwoody Friends of CHOA for allowing SDOC to be a part of Taste of Dunwoody 2012.  I look forward to sponsoring again next year.

Here's a few photos I was able to snag between mouthfuls on my Facebook page.

The real spirit of Dunwoody is on the dance floor.  Nothing says "no matter what happens, we all love our neighbors" quite like watching Denny Shortal gettin' down in front of the bandstand.  Enjoy!  (If you missed this, get your tickets early next time!!!)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Happy Friday!

For those of you going to Taste of Dunwoody tonight, come on over and say hello!  I'll be modelling a product by SDOC's latest customer.  ;-)

Set your DVRs to catch "Say Yes to the Dress" tonight on TLC at 9 PM.
Tiffany Young, the owner of Pink Pastry Parlor and star of "Party at Tiffany's" on OWN  will be featured.  Tiffany's boyfriend proposed in the last episode of "Party at Tiffany's" and now she is picking out her dress.

Pink Pastry Parlor is a bakery/party venue at Rivermont Station in Roswell/Johns Creek/Alpharetta (depending on which direction you're coming from) that my children and I enjoy immensely.  Tiffany built this business up from scratch after losing her large corporate job.  She is an inspiration to anyone who has had to start their lives over again after a corporate layoff.  We need to support people like Tiffany right here in Dunwoody!

More Working Girl posts on Pink Pastry:

Party at Tiffany's debut recap

Party at Tiffany's debut

Local Business films Grand Opening for TLC Series

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wednesday Morning on Tilly Mill Road

Between 8 and 8:30 AM is "witching hour" on Tilly Mill.  Local residents, commuters from elsewhere passing through, students getting to and from GPC, all lined up on a road that was not built to handle this much traffic.

While we're hashing out the best way to (re)configure the roads, priorities for paving, and other ways of expediting traffic, let us not forget the factors that we have the least amount of control over, but contribute the most to road safety:

The following pic was captured while stopped at the N. Peachtree stoplight.  (I threw the Mom-mobile in park while I got this - no balancing a gear shift and electronics at the same time for me.)  What is wrong in the scene below?

Look closely and you will notice dude in the public safety vest perusing the AJC behind the wheel.  While this image was taken while traffic was stopped, the aforementioned dude was reading his paper at the same time he was driving down Tilly Mill.

Paving, road configurations, synchronizing traffic lights are all necessary to get traffic through and out to where it's going expediently.  But the roads are not going to be any safer until the idea of personal responsibility and good driving habits gets pounded into a few more skulls.

So if you know, or are the supervisor of dude driving a brown Chevy El Camino Conquista (!!) with the license tag below, you might want to pull him aside and explain the benefits of driving safely.  Because clearly, he doesn't currently get it.