A locally owned bookstore in downtown Waco is no fable to Kimberly Batson and Alison Frenzel. It is a dream come true nearing reality.

Preparing space at Fourth Street and Franklin Avenue is winding down, and an unveiling is imminent, Batson said during an interview.

At 6,400 square feet, Fabled Bookshop & Cafe will feature thousands of titles and serve coffee, beer, wine, light meals, sandwiches, soups and “shareable” foods in a relaxing reading environment, Batson said.

“We call it the literary linger,” Batson said with a laugh.

The shelving has arrived, and some of the 13,000 to 15,000 books she ordered have started to arrive, she said.

Batson politely dodged a question about her target date to open. She said that information will remain a secret until she notifies supporters she promised would be the first to know.

“We have received so much encouragement, such positive feedback,” Batson said. “We hope this will become a hub of activity.”

Sedberry Furniture

The Sedberry family has owned a furniture store in Waco more than four decades, including Sedberry Furniture at 17th Street and Austin Avenue, across the street from the Waco-McLennan County Library Central Library.

Proprietor Brad Sedberry said he knows the 38,740-square-foot building, with a second-story mezzanine, is in an area now brimming with development potential. It is near downtown and even closer to a growing number of shops, boutiques and tourist destinations.

Sedberry said he has received inquiries and has not dismissed the notion of parting with the property if the right offer comes along. He also is scouting replacement venues should he face a relocation.

The building was built in 1951 as an H-E-B grocery store, becoming home to Hicks Rubber Co. in 1971. It includes a 14,000-square-foot showroom, a 7,440-square-foot basement, a 7,500-square-foot warehouse, a 4,800-square-foot second-floor mezzanine, and 3,000 square feet of office space.

CEO ranking

Glassdoor, a website where current and former employees rate companies and their management staffs, recently released a list of the top CEOs in the country, as judged by respondents voting anonymously.

Ranking No. 2 was Charles C. Butt, who garnered a 99% approval rate. He is the chief executive for Texas-based H-E-B, which operates five grocery stores in Greater Waco. Respondents were encouraged to elaborate on their rankings by listing pros and cons of employment.

A cashier at an H-E-B in Deer Park said a 10% discount on H-E-B private label merchandise is a nice perk, as is access to health insurance and a 401(k) plan. Having no opportunity to work overtime was rated a negative.

A 10-year bakery shop veteran at an H-E-B in San Antonio appreciates growth opportunities and a culture in which employees “are like family.”

Other CEOs of note who appeared on the Top 100 list include Lynsi Snyder, In-N-Out Burger, 3; Satya Nadella, Microsoft, 6; Jeff Weiner, Linkedin, 8; Hubert Joly, Best Buy, 10; Todd Graves, Raising Cane’s, 28; Gary C. Kelly, Southwest Airlines, 35; Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, 55; Dan T. Cathy, Chick-fil-A, 70; Dan Bane, Trader Joe’s, 93; and Mark G. Parker, Nike, 94.

No. 1 is Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware, a Silicon Valley tech company.

CEO alma maters

In yet another report on CEOs, U.S. News and World Report discovered the Aggies are no joke. Texas A&M University graduates lead four of the top 100 companies in the Fortune 500. The list includes Darren Woods, ExxonMobil; Greg Garland, Phillips 66; Bruce Broussard, Humana; and David Cordani, Cigna.

The University of Michigan and Penn State University have three each.

Schools with two CEO graduates include Dartmouth College, Duke University, Harvard University, Illinois State, Michigan State, Princeton, Purdue, Stanford, the University of Kentucky and the University of Pennsylvania.

C. Douglas McMillon, CEO of the No. 1 ranked company appearing on the Fortune 500, Walmart, graduated from the University of Arkansas.

Unemployment

The jobless rate in Texas sank to 3.5% in May, lowest since the current tracking system began in 1976, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

Statistics released Friday show the Waco Metropolitan Statistical Area’s jobless tally remained steady at 2.7% between April and May.

Midland enjoyed the state low, a microscopic 1.7%, followed closely by Amarillo and Odessa, each at 2.1%, according to the workforce commission.

Gas prices

Summer has officially arrived and the July Fourth holiday looms. Yet gasoline prices continue to fall. They typically increase as the weather warms, vacation sites beckon and roadways begin to fill.

“However, the latest Energy Information Administration report reveals that total domestic gasoline inventories jumped a million barrels last week, helping to push pump prices lower,” according to a AAA Texas press release distributed Thursday.

On average, Texas families are saving at least $4 a tank compared to this time last year, when prices were 32 cents more per gallon for regular unleaded, according to the press release. At that rate, a movie ticket could be bought with savings on two fill-ups.

Tensions with Iran that could affect movement of oil through the region have already affected markets and threaten to push prices higher, according to AAA.

“If tensions between the U.S. and Iran escalate, the market will likely continue pushing global crude prices higher,” the press release states.

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