Monday Sales Call: A Trip Down Memory Lane

I went to visit my father’s side of the family in Chicago over the weekend. On Saturday, my dad and I took a ride down to the neighborhood where he grew up. We ended up stopping by an old building my grandfather used to own. My grandfather’s parents immigrated from Italy around 1920 and made their new home in an Italian neighborhood in Chicago. My great-grandfather was a fruit peddler who struggled to provide for his family during the Great Depression.My grandfather dropped out of high school to work for his father selling fruit at the downtown markets. He eventually saved up enough money to buy a decent sized commercial truck. He parlayed that truck into 4 larger trucks and his own trucking company. Not bad for a guy who had little education and parents who spoke minimal English.With earnings from his trucking company he bought a two story building in Cicero, IL (just outside of Chicago). He rented out the top floor to Italian immigrants who were looking for cheap housing. The bottom floor was rented out to a liquor store, a dentist office, and a tailor. The surrounding neighborhood was mainly inhabited by first or second generation Italians. My grandfather sold the building before his death in 1976. He owned the building for 20 years and had many of the same tenants over that time period.Fast forward 30 years. My father and I are standing outside of the old building taking pictures. The first thing we noticed was that the parking signs were translated to Polish. Also, the tenants and neighboring businesses were Polish owned and catered the now mainly Polish Community (Polish sporting good store, Polish Market, Polish restaurant).Chicago, like many large US cities, was the new home to thousands of European immigrants from the 1900’s to the 1950’s. The Irish came first, then the Germans, the Italians, then the Polish. Over time, these groups would move farther and farther away from the city. So how did existing businesses like my grandfather’s tenants adjust to this phenomenon? One day they are catering to an Irish community then 5 years later their store is smack dab in the middle of Little Italy.I am guessing they assimilated to their new environment or went out of business. Language barriers and culinary tastes are the first obstacles that come to mind. I am sure a few of the businesses packed up and moved with their neighbors but I doubt that was the norm. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the local Polish markets was owned by an Italian or Irish family.Environments change and we have to adapt as marketers. Especially on the Internet. You can’t exactly pack up shop and move.We are on the cusp of a possible environment change in the online poker industry. Recent legislation in California and Minnesota will be the catalyst for future bills in other states and on Capitol Hill (the issue in MN is not a bill but rather an order from the MN Dept of Public Safety). Current and future legislation will change the way the game is played for online poker affiliates. We must plan ahead and put our companies in the best position possible if legislation does in fact pass.The future landscape of our industry may be determined by outsiders. State governments are finally realizing how much money they are leaving on the table by not taxing online gaming. Whether that means they open state run card rooms or regulate existing operators, your guess is as good as mine. There are pros and cons for affiliates with both scenarios. However, we can still make money as marketers with either sequence of events. It’s all about putting yourself in the right position to evolve with the changing market. Many affiliates see legislation as a giant hurdle they would rather not think about.Entrepreneurs salivate at the chance to exploit new trends caused by outside entities. Whether it’s regulation of the current operators, blocking certain state’s players, or the opening of state/federal ran rooms, there is an opportunity for affiliates to be first to market.What are your plans if legislation impacts our industry in the coming year?Tony

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