Where there was hope and optimism along downtown Main street in this town just five short years ago, the mood today is much closer to a subdued acceptance, if not outright depression.
One venue along the quieter-than-hoped-for street is thriving. The sprawling ‘Whale of a Time‘ 18 hole indoor/outdoor miniature golf complex, covering nearly a eighth-acre of prime downtown real estate. Designed with a unique ‘Whaling’ theme to honor Schawumpta as the historical birthplace of the ill-fated Great Inland Flensing Company over a century and a half ago. The first mini-golf venue of it’s kind in the USA with a retractable roof. The attraction which had been built as the primary ‘magnet’ to pull tourist money into the surrounding businesses.
The high-tech course was intended to draw the rich tourist trade from Chalupeh County to the south. Specifically the Chalupeh County Seat of Costner City, which has become a regional boom-town in the online medical record transcription industry during the past decade.
Nearly the entire town of Schawumpta, led by the irrationally charismatic Mayor Slackenmore, got behind the project. The projected cost of 275 thousand dollars was raised through a quickly imposed 5% kringle tax, local bake sales, and several of Mayor Slackenmore’s infamous ‘Flash Fundraisers‘, typically held near closing time at the Beer’n’Steer.
Undergrad Architecture and Design students were brought in from UW-Madison to assist in the planning. The unique retractable roof was designed by local mechanical phenom Daryl Koplotnick, utilizing a series of refurbished garage door openers.
Meanwhile, new retail boutiques began opening in the immediate vicinity, in hopes of capturing the incoming tourist dollars.
And so it was built, and so they came. Lured by the irresistible attraction of value priced miniature golf, the number of vehicles sporting Chalupeh County parking permit stickers soon quadrupled on weekends. But the planned Retail Renaissance in the downtown business district never occurred.
“I told ya this would happen,” said long-time opponent to the project, local businessman Tommy Tome’. “Sure they come for the miniature golf, who wouldn’t? But like I been saying for going on eleven years now – it’s a twenty minute drive from Costner City to Schawumpta along I-420. Not what you’d call a major expedition for a 90 minute round of mini-golf. You take yourself a trip along Business Highway 32 through Costner City, they ain’t got no shortage of useless money-trap boutiques. Why anyone thought they’d choose to waste that money here, well that’s just beyond me.”
Our own Flying Car News Team spent this past weekend interviewing Chalupeh County residents who had ventured north for a round of miniature golf, to get their outside perspective on the situation.
“It really was sooo cute! When we took our first trip, that was my first remark to Chas,” remarked Gladys Schmeltington, as she and husband Chas were just lining up on the seventh hole. “I remember it like yesterday. I told him, ‘Oh look sweetie! The poor dears are trying to be upscale!’ It was just the cutest thing! I simply had to get some photos of us in front of some of the shops. God knows they were likely to be gone by next weekend.”
And go they did, one by one. First to fall was the Artisanal Cheese Shop, followed quickly by the Mini-Golf Outfitter’s Exchange and others. Only one boutique remains, ‘Marie, Marie, Quite Contrarie’s Fancie Haberdasherie‘, which owner Marie Phleggmen attributes to her Paypal account still being used for the Mayor’s Flash Fundraisers.