Sunday, October 12, 2008


There is an irony in the national economic collapse in that it may actually help Bend businesses, in a totally backhanded way. It provides cover to do the things that need to be done.

The actual physical sales level is important, or course, but just as important is the psychological frame of mind. I've seen more businesses just give up, than be forced to give up. The same conditions that one businessman may shrug off, is enough to make another quit.

It's a game of expectations.

Bend was going to see a downturn, no matter what. We were just too overbuilt. But it could have happened here without being as noticeable elsewhere.

That is a very lonely place to be.

It's hard not to take a downturn personally. It's hard to distinguish between outside factors and factors inherent in your business. It's easy to figure it's your own fault, instead of being able to put it at arms length and say, "This is the way it is. What do I do now?"

Even more dangerous, is blaming your customers, instead of realizing that they are reacting for their own good reasons.

One thing I've noticed over the years, is that you can't figure out if you're the only one while it's happening. No one will tell you. Every business will tell you they're doing great. Every customer will act like everything is just fine. The news media will be way behind the actual events.

It's take 6 months or more before you find out what actually happened.

That can be a miserable 6 months unless you can deal with it, realize that if it's happening to you it most likely is happening to others in your field.

So the national collapse may actually help local businesses make the transition mentally easier than if it hadn't happened. It will make the actual circumstances worse, of course, but as I said, it's the expectations that are even more important.

In short, misery loves company.

The collective problems make it easier to recognize and grapple with your own.

(NOTE: I almost feel as though I need to attach this to every post about the economy. Just because I talk about the bad economy doesn't mean my store is in trouble; in fact, when I stop talking about it, then you can worry. I see this as more like have termites in the house; I don't tear down the house, I don't go running out into the street screaming, and I don't ignore the problem. I simply deal with the problem. I hope to never again hear the phrase, "Well, I hope you're still here next time." I'm doing fine, dammit.)

No comments: