How ARE things, anyway?

25 Mar

People ask, How’re you doin’? It’s nothing personal, it’s business. I, and they, as individuals, may be doing just fine — healthy, clothed, still breathing (as my father likes to say about his 86th year).

No, the question refers to business, as in, “How’s business?” The reporter from the local paper asked the question the other day. The answer? It ain’t great. It ain’t even good. It has its moments. But the word I get from chatting with many of my fellow Hood River business owners is that things are slow.

So, is it the normal seasonal downturn? Or is it the economy? Or can anyone even tell why people don’t show up, don’t spend, don’t bother to tell you why they aren’t in your store, floating your boat? After all, you can talk with the people who DO come in, but they aren’t the problem — they’re the life preserver.

One sales person put it to me bluntly today, “I had to kiss a lot of ass yesterday to do $500 in sales.” She also noted that her customers appreciate shopping for a locally made product, because they know the money stays local — it doesn’t go to China, or Bentonville, or wherever.

But convince the local shopper, caught between (still) high housing prices and wages (if they have them) that are 66% of those in Portland, that they should support the local merchant, and not the big discounter. Tough sell. Which may be why the sales person also admitted to hitting the food bank to balance her budget.

The short of it is, merchants are “hanging in there.” They’re waiting for better weather, more out of town shoppers, a bit of a return to recreational shopping. As one retailer put it, people don’t need what she sells, so she feels a little contradiction in wishing people would return to the mindset of spending on what are purely “wants.” But she does wish that. Don’t we all?


2 Responses to “How ARE things, anyway?”

  1. heatherblue March 28, 2009 at 7:03 pm #

    Nice post. I have wondered “how downtown is doin'” also. In fact, I have been very concerned about the Hood River businesses in this starving economy. But…I remain optimistic. I think (read: hope) this summer will bring all the people from the “city” to the quaint and cool downtown of Hood River, before they travel out to the outskirts we all know and love, too. People still need to “get away” on the weekends, and I think those who still have some money to spend, will come to Hood River to spend some of it. I will keep my fingers crossed, for those HRDBA people, and for all of us, really.


    • stuwatson March 30, 2009 at 7:40 pm #

      Heather, thanks for the note about your typo. I should have fixed it before posting it — sorry. But it’s fixed NOW! Woo-hoo!



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