Sunday, May 08, 2005

Prediction: The Small Town America Real Estate Boom

We've already seen the trends of Suburban Sprawl and Big City Gentrification. At the same time we have seen the near extinction of Small Town America as more and more people left the countryside in search of greater opportunity.

My prediction for the near future is quite different: the mass exodus away from smaller communities around America has peaked and over the next 10 years we will see an amazing real estate boom occur in thousands of "ghost-towns" across the USA.

Three significant changes in our society have made this possible:

1) Technology innovation: the ubiquitous availability and affordability of new Internet technologies (Web, Blogs, Email, IM, VOIP, Virtual Conferencing, E-Commerce, etc.) are making it possible for more and more knowledge and service workers to be able to work virtually from anywhere.

2) New distribution models:
a new distribution system makes it possible to easily move products anywhere, anytime. In addition to the Wal-Marts and Home Depots that have popped up to bring stuff to rural America, companies like FedEx, and Ebay have made it possible for the average American to have access to an efficient and cost-effective means to send, receive, and market goods from anywhere.

3) Space:
quite simply, rural America has the most space left. Big cities are expensive and cramped, and the burbs (which are already reaching into the countryside everywhere) are simply boring and bland.

While technology, distribution and space make this new shift possible, there are several trends that I believe will make it likely that a new boom occurs in the countryside near you:

1) The economy: it is way more expensive to live in or near a major metropolitan center or big city and consumers are demanding more for their shrinking incomes.

2) Corporate incentives: more and more companies are seeing that they can reduce operational expenses and increase productivity by having more of their employees work from home.

3) Family values: more families will want to move back near home to take care of their aging parents, or they will want to live in an environment more conducive to spending time raising children (just think – no commuting).

4) Education: depending on the particular community, many rural areas have stellar educational systems and can provide parents with a greater voice because there are simply less students.

5) Crime: there is less crime in rural America compared to major cities and suburbs.

So that’s my prediction. I’m already looking for buildings and land back near the farm where I grew up. You should too while the getting’s good…

Looking for wearable art? Buy a T-shirt...

Who would have thunk that something once as mundane as the T-shirt would become one of the most innovative and creative forms of fashion this millennium...?

The T-shirt market has been booming as its own category of fashion for a few years now. Trendy stores that sell nothing but T-shirts have been popping up everywhere including the American Apparel franchise which sells blank shirts, often to artists who slap their own designs on the shirts for resale. And according to an article this week in the Wall Street Journal ("By Accident or design, selling Tshirts ont he Web is big business"), many Web sites are generating hefty profits from selling T-shirts emblazoned with logos and humorous one-liners.

From hipsters and skate punks, to mall rats and college kids, today's Youth are crazy for T-shirts. We've all seen the shirts that chains like Urban Outfitters continue to pump out. But what are more fascinating to me are the artists and designers who are using T-shirts as an entirely new medium to display their work. Once confined by painting, photography or other more traditional media, more and more artists are creating Wearable Art. And more and more fashion designers are creating nothing but shirts. Legends such as Shepard Fairey (Obey Giant) have been doing this for years, and thousands of newcomers are now making a living selling their art via T-shirt distribution. Just this week I met the co-founder of Thank Theory who has an amazing line viewable at And yesterday I met David La Cross of Yes Laboratories in Brooklyn who is fusing currency, various patchwork and print silk-screens onto pre-washed T-shirts ready to wear. These guys are just an example of what's going on out there.

Do yourself a favor and check out what these innovators are up to and support your local artist: buy a T-shirt!