The number of tourists at the Precious Moments attraction in Carthage has been down and some reasons were cited in the April 1 Joplin Globe story by John Hacker.
Chapel marketing director Ted Easley told The Globe visits had dropped from 400,000 in 1999 to between 355,000 and 360,000 in 2004. The chief culprits cited by Easley were the economy, rising gas prices, the weather, and the ready availability of gambling, but there may be a couple of other factors playing a part.
One would be the incredibly bad smell in Carthage the past few months, which apparently according to a Missouri Department of Natural Resources investigation, was caused by Renewable Environmental Services.
The other, and this could be a far more serious problem for Precious Moments, is that the long boom for artist Sam Butcher's teardrop-shaped figurines seems to have crested and is heading downhill.
SEC filings by Enesco, the company which markets the figurines, show that the downslide in its sales have hurt the company's bottom line. With that factor, plus the advancing age of those who travel to the chapel, it might be in a for a long, slow decline unless it finds a way to bounce back soon.
The smell in Carthage has spread across the United States following the publication of an article in the Kansas City Star earlier this week that was picked up by other newspapers in the Knight-Ridder chain.
Apparently, the man behind the revolutionary concept of turning turkey waste into crude oil has decided that it can be done better and cheaper somewhere besides Carthage...in fact somewhere outside of the United States. The factors seem to be labor costs, and probably the cost of following environmental regulations.
It is beginning to appear that the plant might close soon with or without any further governmental action.