Maus Freres S.A.

After three tries I give up trying to visit privately held Maus Freres. This is the holding company that owns Manor and Placette department stores throughout Switzerland. Plus, the Jumbo chain, which is sort of like a Home Depot and Wal-Mart put together.

Corporate offices are on the top floor of their six-story flagship Manor department store. It's located a block away from Geneva's main rail station. You step off the elevator and the receptionist is close by sitting behind a glass enclosure. She doesn't speak English so she makes a call and Ms. Jansen steps out. I explain how I sent a letter to Philippe Nordmann, company president, a month earlier. It's Monday and Nordmann isn't in and neither is his secretary. I check back several days later and it's the same story. On Friday I try one more time. Ms. Jansen again steps out and says Nordmann is still not in and they'd probably wouldn't be interested in participating because the family (Nordmann) is "very discreet".

Well, I'm disappointed because in the small waiting area there's a piece of art consisting of a series of five sculptures showing an overweight cyclist mounting a bicycle. It's titled "Le Cycliste" by Sjewasuter in 1982. To left and right of the receptionists desk are small cactus gardens.