Raven’s Men’s Women’s and Shoes Quitting Business After More Than Two Decades as Ludington Downtown Anchor

June 13, 2011

LUDINGTON, Mich. – Raven’s Men’s Women’s and Shoes, a local retail mainstay for more than two decades, is quitting business and will sell its entire inventory, owner Chris Raven said today.

“It’s such an emotional decision, it really is, but I know in my heart that it’s the right decision for my family,” he said.

The public sale of the store’s inventory will begin on Thursday, June 16. The store, 117 E. Ludington Ave., will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. weekdays, 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday and 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Sunday during the quitting-business sale.

Raven began his retail career in Manistee in 1982 after playing professional basketball in Argentina. “When I came home, my dad asked, ‘Would you like to buy a clothing store?’ I really knew nothing about running a store at the time but we made the deal and the business was a real success for us.”

Raven met his future wife, who also was in the retail clothing business, in Manistee. After they married, she bought the women’s clothing to stock the stores while Raven purchased the men’s clothing. Raven Men’s Wear opened in Ludington in 1986 when the building where the store is located came up for rent. The couple operated both stores until 2006 when they closed the Manistee location.

“I had some regrets when we closed the Manistee store but not as much as with this one. I’m more tied to the area. I grew up in the county,” Raven said. “My family is here. My wife’s family is here. Our customers have just been the best any retailer could hope for. So, all of that makes the decision to close the Ludington store just that much harder.”

He continued, “I’d hoped to continue for a few more years, especially because the business remains strong. But, there’s a time for everything and after a terrific run it’s time to slow down a little and do something else.”

Raven noted that a smaller store the couple owns, Ludington Gear, will continue business as normal.



Carroll Daily Times Herald’s Doug Burns: Pawlenty’s Blue-Collar Fluency Will Pay Ooff in Rural Iowa

June 2, 2011

In some respects Iowans are basically Minnesotans who don’t understand hockey.

The differences, of course, run far deeper than that. We’re a state of 3 million. They have 5 million. Our jokes about them are better, too.

But for Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor seeking the White House, connecting with Iowans is as easy as crossing the border between the two states on I-35. You can miss the “welcome to” signs and not notice for miles.

At a Pizza Ranch in Boone Pawlenty moved among a Memorial Day crowd with effortless cultural fluency — a smart man with a law degree who understands that genuine humility is the coin of the realm in the communities of Iowa he’ll have to win over in his pursuit of the Iowa caucuses.

This Republican is not the most snazzy pair of shoes in the store, but he may be the only brand that fits for Iowa in 2012.

For all our Chamber of Commerce posturing to the contrary rural Iowa is blue- collar. Pawlenty grew up in South St. Paul, Minn., at one point in the 1970s the home of the largest stockyards in the nation. Pawlenty’s father worked the yards (now largely gone) as a truck driver and laborer. The former GOP governor understands the working-class rhythms of life in a way that strikes me as genuine, a far cry from John Edwards’s too-cool-for-school “two Americas” pitch.

To be sure, Pawlenty, only recently announced as a presidential candidate, is just days into his campaign in Iowa, but unlike other presidential hopefuls, it’s clear he will play here.

And he’s viable in other states, unlike, say, fellow Minnesotan Michelle Bachmann, the conservative congresswoman and friend of U.S. Rep, Steve King, R-Iowa. Many GOP insiders and pundits believe Bachmann can win the Iowa caucuses if the field hits five or six active candidates.

So can Pawlenty.

He’s built an able staff here, highlighted by senior adviser and communications consultant Eric Woolson, a veteran of Mike Huckabee’s successful Iowa run in 2008. Woolson knows the media in towns large and small in Iowa, which helps his candidate immensely.

Pawlenty — who aspired to be a Minnesota dentist before getting involved in the Reagan campaign in college — is not of red-meat-tossing variety. His demeanor is pure Rotary Club.

And this could play well in a general-election match-up with President Obama because with Pawlenty in the Republican corner the race is more easily framed as a referendum on Obama himself. The Democrats, if confronted with Pawlenty in the general election, will lose a key angle — the ability to paint the Republican as some sort of borderline personality case, an extremist who can’t be trusted.

Yes, Pawlenty’s underwhelming rhetoric and reverse Jack Flash persona may put you to sleep, but you won’t wake up sweat-soaked in the night with nightmares about the world of possibilities for mess and mayhem as you would under loose cannons like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann and Donald Trump.

One last point on this hockey matter …

Pawlenty has a hobby or diversion that would not occur to most Iowans.

“Occasionally, if I really need a good mental break and I can’t get out on the ice for one of those oldtimers’ games, I’ll sit at the computer when I’m home at night and pop over to hockeyfights.com to watch a few of the latest videos,” Pawlenty writes in his book “Courage to Stand.” “I’ll drive Mary nuts, calling her over when there’s a really good one. ‘Mary, Mary, come watch this!’ I know she has zero interest in watching those fists fly, but it’s interesting to me.”

He also cops to being “a bit of a wrestling fan.” Professional wrestling that is, of the Hulk Hogan and Jesse Ventura variety.

Cut him some slack on that, though. Pawlenty is, after all, from Minnesota.


Newton Mayor to Moderate June 8 Discussion on Bringing Manufacturing Jobs Back to America

June 2, 2011

NEWTON, Iowa – The continued loss of American manufacturing jobs and ways to reverse that trend are the topic of a Wednesday, June 8, town hall-style panel discussion to be hosted by Mayor Chaz Allen.

“No one has to tell the residents of this community what the loss of Maytag jobs has meant. Quality jobs that provide good wages and health insurance are the backbone of a healthy economy,” Allen said. “I don’t want people to forget the importance of manufacturing jobs or stop thinking for even a minute that we need to work every day to attract more manufacturing jobs. Newton’s health depends on it and we’re really a microcosm of the state and U.S. economy.”

The one-hour meeting, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday in the second-floor auditorium at the Newton DMACC campus, 600 N. Second Ave., West. Speakers will include Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Tom Pauken, Iowa State University economist Mark Edelman and representatives from the business and labor communities.

Texas has created more private sector jobs than any other state over the last 10 years and has had the lowest unemployment rate of the 10 largest states. Pauken has been traveling the country to promote changes in U.S. tax policy to reverse the tide of manufacturing jobs that have moved off shore.

“As Maytag was leaving Newton in 2007, a New York Times reporter wrote a story that asked, Is there middle-class life after Maytag? That’s an important question that needs to be asked every time we lost a manufacturing job anywhere in this country,” Pauken said. “We hear elected officials talk about America becoming an innovation leader but as Andy Grove, the co-founder of Intel once said, you can’t innovate if you don’t make things. We’re letting other countries make almost everything these days. We have to change that.”

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