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Wednesday Walk: Italy-ish
A cool RV, an Italian illusion, and nine restaurant booths for $1.00
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As is typical every Wednesday, I’m bring you a smattering of topics that I hope will make you a bit more curious about the world around you and give you something to think about later. I call these Wednesday Walks, as it’s the type of conversation we might have walking down a path in the woods. Shall we take a stroll?
Home is in the Details
I was driving down the road the other day when I spotted something I had never seen before. Check it out!
We often talk about how our RV has become our vacation home, but this one takes home on wheels to a whole new level. It’s a bit hard to tell in the photo, but the arched window on the back wall of the pictured coach is a functional window. When I was driving behind this RV, I could see straight through the coach to the windshield.
A part of me was surprised, as motorhomes are often constructed as cheaply as possible with standard (and rectangular) windows. I love the idea of having a massive window like this, although my mind also wondered how the window was able to be closed up for privacy.
Before I owned an RV, I never noticed others on the road. Now not only do I see them everywhere, but I also pay attention to all the little details like this arched window. The Concord by Coachmen is still manufactured, although it doesn’t appear to offer that window as a standard feature anymore.
I’m sure there’s a story behind why this window was chosen, whether it was an upgrade years ago, or why they stopped installing them, but all of those mysteries are for another day. Today is just about admiring the unusualness of the window and wondering.
Not What It Appears
They look like they were taken at a Tuscan villa around sunset right? But that’s not the case. These engagement photos were actually taken at an Olive Garden in Tennessee at 6:00 am!
The couple, Carlsey Bibb and Caden Mills, were looking for a unique idea for their engagement photos and discussed it with their friend and photographer Shea Cravens of Hunter LaShea Photography. Cravens had always wanted to do a photo shoot at Olive Garden and convinced the couple that she could make it look like Italy. The Today Show has a nice write up about the session plus more photos if you’re interested.
The illusion isn’t perfect in all of the photos, but it works quite well in most of them. The natural sunrise really mimics my memory of the Italian sunshine. We took this photograph at a vineyard and olive farm in Tuscany back in 2012 and it’s been hanging in my dining room for about a decade now. It’s not that dissimilar to the photos above from the Olive Garden.
This brings to mind something that I learned early on when it comes to both photo and video work- the audience only sees what’s within your frame. If you can find (or create) a background that conveys the story that you want to tell, it doesn’t matter what else is around. The viewer will fill in the context with their own imagination and lived experience.
For example, it’s easy to forget that just beyond the stone walls of the Olive Garden photos is an asphalt parking lot and probably some other suburban businesses like Target or Starbucks. Because of how the images are framed and lit, we forget all of that and can fill in the rolling vineyards that we assume are just out of frame.
As we head into the new era of AI generated photographs that make us question reality even further, a simple engagement photo session is a reminder that not every image we see is what we imagine it to be.
Own a Wegman’s
Earlier this month, I wrote about JC Penney’s strategy in 2011 to create several store within a store boutiques under CEO Ron Johnson. The plan didn’t go well, with Johnson being ousted from his job after 16 months, although, as I wrote, I always thought he was on to something. The best execution I saw of his idea was at the JC Penney at the Natick Mall in Natick, MA.
The store always felt upscale and stylish, perhaps because it was converted from a former Macy’s in 2007. But the Natick Penneys didn’t last long, closing its doors in 2015 after never quite finding the right audience.
However, the location didn’t sit vacant long. Grocery chain Wegmans decided to open a flagship location in that space, which opened in 2018. According to a press release at the time:
“Spanning two levels, each with direct access to the mall, the 146,500 square-foot Natick location is among the family-owned companys largest stores. Its bright central atrium features a cart conveyer system with an adjacent escalator for customers to navigate between floors. The spacious layout offers an abundant selection nearly 70,000 items in all, more than 3,000 of which are organic in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.”
It should be mentioned that the Natick Mall is one of the largest in Massachusetts. It’s an enclosed shopping mall that has been expanded a few times in its history, with most of the parking now in parking garages rather than surface lots.
In other words, it’s a fun mall for browsing high end stores or going out to eat. It’s a destination, not a place I would choose to visit to do my weekly grocery shopping, especially since getting from the garage to the store involved either a large crosswalk or an overhead pedestrian bridge.
The Natick Wegmans closed its doors in July, leaving behind the failed experiment of mall grocery shopping (at least the way it was executed here). As is often the case with liquidation sales, most of the store’s furniture and fixtures are now for sale. But unlike a traditional liquidation, Wegmans sale is being done as an online auction.
Bidding is now open on Restaurant.Bid for more than 200 items (although it closes today at 10am Eastern). In case bidding is closed by the time you read this and the link no longer works, here’s a few highlights of the sale along with the current selling price (at least as of the time I pulled the screenshots).
A stainless steel dish washing station: $1.00:
A wall-mounted bug zapper: $21.00:
A gas range: $1,000:
An aluminum dough cabinet $125:
Nine restaurant booths and tables $1.00:
3 Mops and Buckets $1.00:
I share some of this to be quirky, but I also try to imagine who would be interested in buying some of these items. My mind first goes to whether or not my wife would let me put a restaurant booth somewhere in our house, but the more practical answer is that an entrepreneur looking to open (or upgrade) a food service operation could get a lot of the way there with very little capital outlay.
I’m glad these items aren’t just being thrown in a dumpster and I’m sure whoever ends up with these items will be getting a good deal.
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Other Wednesday Walks
If you’ve missed past issues of this newsletter, they are available to read here.