Saturday, February 23, 2008

It's been busy this month at the store. Not at last year's pace, but last year was extraordinary because I was adding new books and games to my product line. But the good news is, so far, I'm running close to 20% above last month.

It's busy enough to put pressure on my purchasing budget, which has bent but not broke, so far. Budgeting is a constant challenge for me.

Thing is, I was really tired at the end of yesterday. I read once, people wear introverts out, and charge up extroverts. I had plenty of people in, (I think it's some sort of quasi spring break for some Wash. and Cali's...) and I think I've forgotten how to pace myself.

Meanwhile, we've reached that point that I've seen in every fad, where those who can see believe and those that can't, don't. Those who see a problem are dealing with it, those who don't see a problem aren't. Sides have been chosen, and nothing more will change -- until the boosters just sort of quietly disappear into the woodwork.

There is a discussion about the word 'collapse' over on the Bend Economy Bulletin Board. O.K. Steep drop? Severe Correction? Does that do it for you?

I was talking to a restaurant insider yesterday, a real 'foodie' as he called himself, and he said 5 more restaurants are opening soon. "Way too many...."

So, I think we'll see the first battleground in the dining industry. Obviously, a lot of older restaurants are seeing the handwriting on the wall. The second battleground I'll predict -- with absolutely no inside knowledge, just a guess -- is in office space and condo's, especially on the west side. Third battleground are the outliers -- businesses and stores located in what may be zoned retail but not normally seen as retail.

Downtown will probably be last to feel it, actually. Two of the locations across from me have already leased -- Bandy's location supposedly another jewelry store, grabbed within a month.

Still, I wonder how successful they'll continue to be charging the 3.00 ft. range. If these new buildings hadn't already lined up tenants, I wonder if they'd be able to so readily fill in. Meanwhile, there is a restaurant every 15 ft or so....

I believe, and this is just a personal observation, that for businesses to be truly healthy, rents need to be closer to 2.00 a foot in downtown and the other hot zones, and closer to 1.50 a ft. in other vital shopping areas, and closer to 1.00 a ft. in slower but still active zones. From what I can see, most leases are 20 to 30% too high. And, I'll tell you what, if I'm going to pay 30% too much for a lease, I'll do it in a 'hot' zone, where there is at least a chance of succeeding...

I'm not holding my breath that rents will actually come down. It would take such a severe downturn, prolonged and chronic, to get the landlords to come down, that I can't wish for that. But maybe, just maybe, they might start moderating the increases.

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