Quick Hits – Why brick and mortar retail is dying – part 936

My wife and I decided we were becoming too reliant on Amazon for all the shit we buy. So, rather than send those dollars out into the Net-osphere, we thought we’d make an effort to patronize more local stores.

The first one on my list was Vitamin Shoppe in the Geneva Commons.

Though this certainly wasn’t their fault, I forgot what driving through that mall was like. When did white folks forget how to drive? Yikes! Squirrels, pinball machines and Donald Trump are more predictable than some of y’all in a mall.

My point being, I could’ve avoided all that hassle by simply turning to the keyboard.

To be fair, the folks at Vitamin Shop are pretty good about paying attention to their customers, but I knew exactly where to find the B-12 so that wasn’t an issue – yet.

Having acquired the object of my affection, I headed up to the register to wait behind a couple who were discussing the efficacy of certain supplements. No problem! That only took two minutes.

But once they were good to go, the manager started selling them their new imitation Amazon initiative by which the customer could have their oft-used supplements shipped directly to them on a regular basis for a minor discount.

That discussion lasted five minutes, with the manager throwing in a couple of “I’ll be right with you sirs” in my direction. When the customers finally bit, I had to stand there for another two minutes while the manager signed them up.

Making the mistake of thinking it was finally my turn, the trio launched into a pleasant conversation on how another supplement caused them all sorts of stomach and gastro-intestinal problems. Figuring their collective sex lives would be the next topic, I set the B12 on the counter and silently walked out.

It’s not that I don’t listening to folks describe their dysentery, but the real issue was standing there for 10 minutes with nothing to show for it. Two minutes in, the manager should’ve said, “Please let me check this gentleman out and we’ll continue our conversation.”

Alright, alright! We both know I’m not a “gentleman,” but she didn’t know that.

But the manager didn’t provide that simple courtesy, because if she did, she wouldn’t have be able to pitch that automatic Net refill service, which I wasn’t at all interested in, because it would’ve violated my new shopping local prime directive.

After all, ain’t that the kind of business model that would put the local store out of business?


I’m sure you’ve already figured out that I won’t be back to Vitamin Shoppe on the following grounds:

1. When there are only four customers to two employees, that’s a pretty good ratio. I don’t expect to have to wait 15 minutes to check out. It would’ve taken me a scant two minutes at Amazon and they’d have to me in two days or less.

2. Until you all learn how to drive, I would prefer to avoid the Geneva Commons. It took me five minutes to get to the store which was 4 minutes and 50 seconds longer than going online would’ve taken.

3. But this is what really frosts my cookies! I refuse to patronize any enterprise that considers my appearance as nothing more than an opportunity to drain my wallet. Unless I ask a specific question regarding a specific product, I will not go to any store just to be sold all kinds of shit. That’s why I have a no-soliciting sign on my front door.

The reason I no longer darken Best Buy’s door is the lone checkout clerk would be trying to sell magazine subscriptions with a line 10 customers long.

I don’t really like being solicited for charitable donations while I’m tapped at a cash register, either.

I simply want to shop at a local store in the hope they haven’t rearranged everything for the 30th time this month, quickly find what I’m looking for, and move on to my next destination. If we have a pleasant sales clerk/customer interaction, that’s a bonus.

Is that really too much to ask?

You’d think that, considering the retail havoc entities like Amazon have wreaked, these folks would be grateful to see your gleaming visage, not try to make up last month’s profit decline on you alone.

It’s not just Vitamin Shoppe, either! You can’t get out of some stores without going through the equivalent of a high school trigonometry final exam.

I love the Walgreens at Bricher and Route 38, because I’ve developed relationships with some of the staff (hi Michelle!). But the number of buttons you have to push to collect a simple blood pressure prescription is nuts. (Its’ hard to believe I have high blood pressure, right?)

Sometimes I leave the store convinced I just developed tendonitis in my right index finger.

I’m kinda of fond of Meijer too, but in an oxymoronic irony, their automated checkout lanes – an abomination in and of itself – won’t let you go without asking if your shopping trip was “highly satisfactory.”

First, much like Steven Colbert asked guests if George W. Bush was a great, or the greatest president, the credit card screen provides no opportunity to say it sucked. You can only answer “no.” And second, my shopping trip was actually pretty good until you asked me that fucking question.

I know you can ignore it, but I’m tired of the constant imposition that brick and mortar retailers thrust upon their dwindling customer base.

Don’t get me started on what comedian Bill Burr calls “those fucky fuck cards,” either. If you want to save me money, then save me money. That’ll be good enough to get me to back.

And now gas station pumps force you to enter your Zip code, too! “But sir! That’s to prevent credit card fraud.” No it isn’t! It’s just a ruse to get free marketing data.

So, in conclusion, this is my gratis advice to local retailers:

1. Please don’t make me press so many bleepin’ buttons to get out of your store that it feels like I’m disarming the kind of failsafe device that would obliterate the Tri-Cities upon the slightest error.

2. No more loyalty cards or similar programs. Just save me money and I’ll be good with even mediocre service.

3. No more Zip codes and car wash questions at gas pumps. If I want a wash, You’ll be the first to know.

4. And most of all, no more sales clerks going all Willy Loman on me.

You’re welcome! Cause after less than one month of going back to local stores, I’m going back to the Net.


Quick Hits Supplemental – The blog is alright!

To quote those great philosophers Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Pete Townsend and Keith Moon.

This is probably gonna come across as some sort of male member measuring contest, but I’m so sick of readers telling me I have no readers (they fail to see the irony in that), I thought I’d share some stats.


Between the blog itself and the Facebook version, the 10/25 story on the Coffland/Clancy connection has received 5,400 hits, so far. To be fair, I boosted it on Facebook for 10 bucks, but that’s still five times more hits than a popular local Daily Herald news story would get, and I don’t have an entire promotional team behind me.

The 10/27 Quick Hits on a variety of subjects, including how Eaglebrookers feel about the Campana project, has managed 2,700 hits, so far, without any boosting.

That doesn’t mean that every visitor read those entire columns, but I’m still good with it.

Though I write these stories for myself and an audience is just the icing on the cake, it is gratifying to have that kind of following. I truly appreciate all the folks who take a few minutes out of their incredibly busy day to check in on what I have to say.


Quick Hits – October 27, 2017

The City of Whites

That’s my affectionate sobriquet for my current home town of Geneva, Illinois. Unlike so many other facets of this fascinating existence, the consistent rank bigotry that runs rife throughout its citizenry never disappoints me.

To wit, I was recently talking with a Geneva official who told me the city is being besieged with calls from the Eaglebrook subdivision decrying Batavia’s impending entry of those Campana Building low-income apartments.


For reference purposes, Eaglebrook is likely the wealthiest Geneva subdivision whose borders generally run along the UP tracks, Randall Road, Fabyan Parkway and Western Avenue. The Campana building, at the corner of Fabyan Parkway and Route 31, has generally been vacant for a good 37 years.

So, the first thing I asked my friend was, “Why are those folks up in arms about this? The Campana Building is at least a mile away from the nearest Eaglebrook home?”

His quick response was, “They don’t want ‘those’ children going to Western Avenue Elementary School.” It was at that very moment I realized no one would ever go broke underestimating the discriminatory capacity of the average Genevan.

Considering their parents’ abject lack of any parenting skills whatsoever, most of the white children in my Fisher Farms neighborhood suck. And I firmly believe having more brown children in our school system would be a vast improvement. Diversity is always a good thing!

Meanwhile, every last Eaglebrooker who called the City in this bigoted regard should be f*****g ashamed of themselves.

Have I said white people suck?


What is wrong with school bus drivers?

It happened again! At 8:25 this a.m! I was turning left from westbound Route 64 onto southbound Randall Road – clearly with the green arrow – and Geneva school bus number 3 turned right on red, cutting me off to the point where I had to slam on my brakes.

I’m not quite sure what a Geneva school bus was doing in St. Charles and I thought they weren’t supposed to turn right on red.

School Bus

That’s not nearly the only example of bad school bus driver judgement. I’ve had them:

  • Tailgate me with a long line of cars in front of me
  • Cut me off while pulling out of their garages
  • Illegally pass me on my road bike and stop right in front of me
  • Run a red light and almost ram me from behind

By the way a plurality of them drive, they seem to think they’re some sort of emergency vehicle.

Look! I understand how difficult it is for school districts to hire school bus drivers, much less good school bus drivers, but every time one of these bleeps pulls this kind of shit, it makes life so much harder for the rest of them.

To wit, I’ve see four wheelers do some of the stupidest shit imaginable to those yellow vehicles, including, but not nearly limited to blowing by a stopped bus with the sign displayed and red lights flashing.

But when you consider I only drive about 5,000 miles a year, and I’m rarely on the road when those buses are, I can only imagine what goes on with the rest of y’all during school rush hours.

So, bus drivers! If you want to be treated with respect, please treat us with respect.


Congratulations Mayor Kaptain!

Elgin, Illinois, Mayor David Kaptain was named Mayor of the Year by the United Hellenic Voters of America at their 43rd annual gathering in Addison, Illinois. They cited his community outreach and sustainability push as the primary reasons for giving hizonner the award.

I know a certain ex-city councilman and good friend may not agree with this sentiment, but I’m gonna say it anyway! “Way to go Dave!”


Being the mayor of a small city is difficult, but successfully managing a city the size of Elgin is the very definition of a Sisyphean task. And unlike most medium city mayors, Dave gets a paltry 17 grand for his efforts.

So, congratulations to Mayor Kaptain for earning this award, we won’t hold the fact that group named Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner Person of the Year against you!


There’s much more to come on the Coffland/Clancy story

One of the things I love about journalism is, when you break a big news story, it tends to give people the courage to come forward with even more pertinent information. And that’s exactly what’s happened with the Coffland/Clancy story that ran here on Wednesday.

A reader asked me if Kane County Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles should resign by mere fact that Michael Clancy was her brother. Apparently he missed it when I wrote, “The sins of the brother should never fall upon the shoulders of the sister.”

And they shouldn’t.

But when it’s starting to look like the Chief Judge did her damndest to cover the whole thing up, that’s an entirely different story. More to come…

Quick Hits Supplemental – Yes! I have protection!

Considering all the rocks I’ve turned over lately, and given the vast love the Geneva Police have for me, an insider friend fervently thought they should lend me their “protection.” Get your bleepin’ mind out of the gutter, it ain’t that kind of protection!


So, one of my favorite Facebook friends Sharry Lynn Blazier, had this to say about my latest fashion accessory:

“And here’s Jeff, modeling the sophisticated new fall look for intrepid curmudgeonly journalists everywhere! Yes, this stylish Kevlar vest is just what you need to tell the world to its face, ‘You want me dead, pal, it’s gonna take a close-range head shot that leaves you wearing my brain, and you know you don’t want that!’ That’s Kevlar — It’s sleek! It’s sexy! It’s Jeff!”

Thank you for that fabulous catwalk introduction, Sharry!

Of course my immediate response was, “I’m too sexy for my vest, too sexy for my vest, so sexy I’m not stressed!”

I also want to thank my former friend Pat Perez for reminding me that it won’t stop a head shot, and then he said something about me having a head almost as big as his.

Quick Hits – When Affairs go Bad

We’ve spent a lot of time discussing how the absurdly incestuous nature of the Kane County Judicial Center, and the judges and attorneys who ply their trade in that building, can subvert justice. But even if those ill-advised extracurricular relationships don’t directly damage court cases, when they go wrong, those gravitational waves ripple throughout the entire system, affecting the people attached to those officers of the court and the people who turn to it for relief.

Kane County Judicial Center

Kane County Judicial Center

Though this story is common knowledge at the courthouse, I wrestled with whether to put it out there. But when you consider that four people are dead due to the bad choices of three individuals, the truth really needs to come out. Not only that, but so much of the rank speculation around this multilayered tragedy is so off-base, setting the record straight played a role in my decision to set it straight.

I’m sure you recall that, last March, St. Charles resident Randy Coffland murdered his two teenage daughters, wounded his wife Anjum, and subsequently shot himself in the head. At the time he shot her, he told his wife, “I want you to suffer like I did.”

Randy Coffland

Randy Coffland

On February 4, 2017, Michael Clancy, 57, a fourth generation Kane County attorney and brother of Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a DuPage County forest preserve.


Michael Clancy

These stories are connected.

The Cofflands moved from Oswego to St. Charles in 2015 because Anjum was having an affair and Randy wanted to put some distance between his family and the man involved.

In 2013, Anjum hired Wayne, Illinois, attorney Michael Clancy to file a medical malpractice suit against Rush Copley Hospital. That case is still winding its way through the system.

Sometime after they moved to St. Charles, Anjum and Clancy began having an affair. When Randy found out, he went directly to Clancy’s wife and filed a complaint with the Attorney Registration and Discipline Commission.

Faced with possible divorce, potential disbarment and all the baggage that goes along with those two scenarios, Clancy took his life. He left behind a wife, three siblings, his parents, a slew of friends, clients and a number of rescue animals.

As a result of Anjum’s affairs, Randy spiraled deeper and deeper into depression. He began abusing anti-depressants to the point where he told his family he was going to kill his daughters and himself. Thankfully, he sought help and managed to kick the drugs. By all accounts, his life seemed to be improving.

But after a Feb 8 domestic incident in which Randy smashed Anjum’s cell phone during a heated debate, she moved out leaving her daughters behind. Randy found an old bottle of anti-depressants and began self-medicating again.

It’s important to note that Randy Coffland had no prior domestic violence record.

Was that confrontation over yet another one of Anjum’s affairs? According to my sources, it was. But rather than simply take his daughters and walk away, Randy tried to reconcile with Anjum, who’d already decided to move on.

We all know how that story ended.

Did Michael Clancy set this entire series of events in motion? No! Did he contribute to it? Absolutely! Could Randy Coffland’s antidepressant use be a factor in this cowardly murder suicide? Yes! Could his wife’s affairs and the impending family breakup have exacerbated his depression? Yes!

Some people are more fragile than others.

Could Randy Coffland have murdered his daughters without Michael Clancy’s involvement? Absolutely! But there’s no doubt his involvement led to his own death.

One of my former managing editors recently challenged me to quantify the damage these Judicial Center affairs do to the system, but it can’t be done because life never distills itself down to a simple mathematical equation.

What I can say is, there are two dead children, two dead husbands, and their friends and families will never be the same. Don’t tell me this tragedy isn’t going to affect Chief Judge Boles’ decisions going forward, either. How could it not?

Let me be clear that the sins of the brother should never fall upon the shoulders of the sister, and I’m not excusing anyone for any act of violence against themselves or others. I’m simply trying to explain the series of events that set four deaths in motion.

Michael Clancy should’ve stuck around and faced the music. People have come back from much worse circumstances. Randy Coffland should have taken his daughters and moved far away. I can’t comprehend what would move someone to murder his own children just to make his wife suffer. C’mon! People have affairs all the time and most marriages end in divorce.

But now we know exactly what he meant when he said he wanted his wife to suffer like he did.

Anjum Coffland

Anjum Coffland

Prior to murdering his daughters, Randy Coffland changed his life insurance beneficiaries to his brother and a friend. Of course, Anjum Coffland is desperately trying to collect on that $750,000 policy.

Quick Hits – October 23, 2017

No more Nalaxone!

So, after some serious budget cuts, Kane County is spending $100,000 for 2,000 additional does of Nalxone, a drug used to counteract the effects of opioid overdoses. That kind of cash could’ve saved the Public Defenders office from being pushed to the brink of extinction.


To be fair, this money is coming out of the riverboat grant fund, but that simply means the County spent that 100 grand somewhere else, because that’s the way the budget works. So it’s still our money. And if it comes down to it, I’d rather see those tax dollars go toward something like chemotherapy for Kane County’s indigent citizens, and here’s why.

1. Addiction is a choice and not a disease

Are some people more prone to addiction that others? Yep! Can an addiction become so powerful that it takes over your life? Yep! But make no mistake, taking that first OxyContin or shooting up for the first time is a choice. Given my fabulous family history, I won’t take any painkiller more powerful than extra-strength Ibuprofen.

2. Taking street opioids is a form of Russian roulette

Addicts overdose on prescription opioids despite the fact they know the dosage. With street drugs, you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.

Have y’all heard of “gray death?” It’s a combination of heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil (an elephant tranquilizer) and U-47700, a synthetic opioid. And it’s causing overdose deaths all across the eastern U.S.

Forget Russian roulette, taking that shit is the equivalent of writing a suicide note and, with some notable exceptions, you generally can’t save people from themselves.

3. If those overdosers were primarily black…

They’d be increasing the criminal consequences for doing heroin, not trying to save addicts, as a former law enforcement officer just said to me. And that’s what really frosts my cookies. Apparently, since Caucasian kids are dying from doing opioids, we’ll give them a break.

Ya gotta love white privilege!

I may be socially liberal, but I’m no fan of this kind of nanny state-ism. Perhaps the policy should be you get one dose of Nalaxone, but after that, you’re on your own.


“It wasn’t me!”

In the words of that great philosopher George Thorogood. I do not recall ever saying it would be the Cubs and Yankees in the World Series.


How to win friends and influence people

My Facebook friend and fellow runner, Debbie Mossburg, ran the recent Naperville half-marathon with her service dog Mina for the third year in a row. You see, some folks who suffer from PTSD – and especially our veterans – find peace and solace in service animals.


Why, you might remember the Quick Hits story on the service pig the Batavia City council exempted from their no farm animals ordinance.

Debbie registers Mina in honor of a cancer victim or a supporter of the cause. So, as they’ve done for the past two years, the race organizers announced that Mina completed the race for three straight years.

But when Debbie went up to get her participation medal, the same medal Mina received in 2015 and 2016, this is the conversation that transpired between Mossburg and race director Craig Bixler as he refused to give Mina her medal:

Debbie: She’s run every year with me, she is my service dog for PTSD

Craig: It’s a dog!

Debbie: She’s my service dog!

Craig: Yeah! So! You need a dog! No!

Personally, I love it when our canine friends participate in road races. I regularly run with my dog, the animal gets a huge kick out of running with such a large “pack” and the dogs are much more polite than some of the human runners.

Trust me, this never would’ve happened if George Pradel were still the mayor of Naperville! George would’ve passed out those awards himself!

Way to go Craig! It ain’t easy making me look good by comparison!


A political promise kept!

My hat’s off to 9th District Kane County Board member T. R. Smith for keeping a promise! Early on, he said he’d serve three terms and then give someone else a shot, and that’s exactly what he’s doing.

TR Smith

Good for you T. R!


Elgin knows how to throw a party!

A capacity crowd of 16,000 enjoyed last Saturday’s Nightmare on Chicago Street – Elgin’s annual Halloween street festival. And according to EPD Chief, Jeff Swoboda, there wasn’t a single unnecessary incident either!

Way to go Elgin!


Coming up!

1. The real story behind the St. Charles father who murdered his two daughters and a local attorney’s suicide.

2. Who pickup truck fire bomber Dominic Castelvecchi really is according to former Geneva High School classmates.

3. Kane County prosecutor Alex Bederka complains about the blog.

4. A scandal involving Geneva Police officers having sex in the station while on duty. Oh! And in squad cars too!