Who knew it could be so easy?
One man has a unique solution to stop the onslaught of retail stores from shuttering their windows and locking their doors. He is formulating a follow-up plan to prevent tumbleweeds from rolling across barren mall parking lots and causing head-on collisions between Ford Fusions.
Art Bunch, a local man and avid garage-saler, believes he has discovered the secret to reviving brick-and-mortar businesses, saving jobs for area teenagers, and avoiding a community "heading straight to the dogs."
Last Thursday, Bunch invited the Press to his home for a news conference to reveal his secret. Cliff Twiggs, the sole attendee and a stringer for the Shopping News & Coupons Daily, took copious notes, compiled a story, and farmed it to the AP for its "significant economic imperative." He was promptly rejected. The AP later blocked Twiggs from its e-mail service provider because "he had become even more annoying than usual."
Twiggs' story then bounced back to the Shopping News & Coupons Daily, where someone shelved it to make room for an "unusually heavy onslaught" of toilet paper two-for-one coupons. According to Cynthia Bitts, Senior Editor of Coupons and Specials, "The story may never see the light of day-and that's okay with me. Coupons sell newspapers."
Now desperate for his story to "see the light of day," Twiggs leaked details to an online scandal sheet called Mel's Defiant Truth, headed by high school senior Mel Shumptl, who will admit, under some pressure, that many of her stories are "pre-factual." (Friends call her the Shump-Shump-Shump-in-nator for truth (usually in a chant), though she's not fond of that.) Shumptl categorically defended her decision to post Twiggs' story: "This is what I got, and I'm going with it. Twiggs seems credible to me. I also honor his commitment to finding the truth, no matter how badly the odds are stacked against him. I like that. Some people don't. I do."
Under BREAKING NEWS, this is what she posted (and it's still there because, as Shumptl admitted, she's currently "pretty busy" with extra-curricular activities and sometimes loses interest in updating Mel's Defiant Truth):
At last Thursday's news conference, Bunch served fresh lemon-aid and chocolate chip cookies. He requested that those in attendance-namely, Twiggs-notice the fine hand embroidered cotton napkins, pointing out that he had to fight deadline pressures to complete them on time before the news conference. Twiggs turned around and noted the only other guest was the neighborhood cat, which sat behind him on hand embroidered cotton napkins licking itself.
Then, clearing his throat several times, coughing uncontrollably, and ending with a hiccup, Bunch took his place behind a podium and microphone-unusual at best in an 800-square-foot bungalow-and began, "Please excuse my nervousness, as I am unaccustomed to public speaking." Again, Twiggs looked around. The cat had left. "Members of the Press,"--namely, Twiggs-"thank you for coming and for your interest in discovering the secret behind reviving all things retail. Now, before I begin, I'd like to take a moment to thank my mother and her Senior Living Happy Hands Knitting Crew for helping me hand embroider these lovely cotton napkins at your tables. And I should also mention-my mother insisted-that we harbor no ill will toward Mr. Buntler for mistaking a napkin for an . . . how should I say . . . adult undergarment. His advanced stage of dementedness is apology enough."
When asked by the Press-namely, Twiggs-whether there would be a Q & A session after the speech, Bunch became somewhat agitated and confused at the interruption, lost his place in his notes, and finally responded, "If there are any questions, they must be stated in the form of a question. All other questions must be submitted in writing at least 48 hours in advance. Statements or follow-up questions are impermissible, so don't even try." Then he wiped his forehead with a hand-embroidered cotton napkin.
Details of the news conference after this point have become mired in controversy and, some say, in misinformation, and possibly, even in embroidery. Apparently, after three lemon-aids, Twiggs excused himself to visit the bathroom, forcing a hold on the proceedings. (When later asked whether visiting the bathroom in the middle of a news conference was a responsible journalistic gambit or a highly unorthodox diversionary tactic, Cynthia Bitts, Senior Editor of Coupons and Specials for the Shopping News & Coupons Daily, chided, "Twiggy never had the stomach for hard journalism. Wimp.")
Sources differ on what happened next, but according to Twiggs himself, he returned to the news conference to find that the room had been abandoned, the extra cookies were removed, and the embroidered napkins had been replaced with Good Valu paper napkins. The only sound came from the neighbor's cat purring into the microphone at the podium. From there, the story hits a dead end, and, sadly, the secret to the retail revival-and removal of tumbleweed clutter in the parking lot--remains a mystery.
"Look," insisted Bitts, when investigative reporters started sniffing around for Twiggs' whereabouts, since Bunch had gone missing, along with the hand embroidered cotton napkins, "there's no secret. There's no mystery. I've been working for the Shopping News & Coupons Daily for thirty-seven years, three of them as Senior Editor of Coupons and Specials, thank you very much, and I know the answer as plain as the nose on your face. So you figure it out. I'm not going to do your job for you!"
Investigations are ongoing.