Grass Roots Marketing
I walk our dog pretty much every day up a nearby side street, leading to a cul-de-sac.
This was once the 5-acre estate owned by an eccentric millionaire, who fled Chapel Hill for Florida after the building of Meadowmont interrupted the peace and tranquility of his property. For example, the heavily wooded DuBose Farm outside his master bedroom windows is now the soccer field at the Rashkis Elementary School.
Said eccentric millionaire left the estate in the hands of a caretaker who listed it for $4.1 million. Butch Davis almost bought it when he became UNC’s football coach, but the owner would not come down on his price. So, instead, he decided to sub-divide, leaving his home on the best lot along the 11th fairway of the Chapel Hill Country Club and creating three other lots that are still for sale and seem woefully overpriced at around a half-mil each.
The home on the golf course lot never sold, so he had it cut into pieces and hauled away. Since then, the lot sold, a new home has been built and a family just moved in. At the front of the street are two signs that say LOTS FOR SALE with arrows pointing thataway.
Problem is, that street now looks like one of those golf course developments that went bust during the real estate crash. At the street’s entrance from the main drag, the weeds have grown as high as 4 feet. All the way down the street, on both sides, the grass is totally unkempt, until you reach the beautifully manicured yard of the newly built home.
No one could blame dog walkers for not picking up after their pets, because the droppings disappear so far into the tall grass (I, of course, always go equipped with a small plastic bag).
The story goes that the owner had some kind of electrical company that he sold for, like, 80 gazillion dollars, so maybe he – and the real estate company he hired to sell his three lots – don’t care enough to cut the grass. But to those passing by from an otherwise pristinely maintained neighborhood, his grass roots marketing obviously isn’t working.
Messages left with the realtor are not returned, and have not been acted on at this writing. In one area, the weeds have grown so high that they almost cover one of the LOTS FOR SALE signs. Somebody who must live nearby apparently couldn’t take it anymore and covered over one of those signs with a crudely printed message: CUT THE GRASS!
So far, there is more sound coming from the crickets in the weeds than from the person or company responsible for keeping up appearances on those three half-million-dollar lots. Rumor has it that a group of neighbors intend to march over there armed with machetes and sickles like Crocodile Dundee slashing his way through the bush country. (Just think of me as Sue Charlton, the Newsday reporter assigned to follow Mick Dundee across the outback in the original movie).
The CUT THE GRASS! sign didn’t last long, of course, probably taken down by someone whose job it is to protect the aforementioned pristine neighborhood. But the grass remains (almost) as high as an elephant’s eye, and so far none of the landscapers’ trucks, riding up and down the main drag on their way to and from the jobs they’ve been hired to do, stop at the grass roots ungroomed.
Someday, somebody will wake up and a landscaper will be assigned to do so. It will be damn time.