Pluto In Capricorn: Watching Business Die

I’m sorry to be morose but this blog has always been about what I see and experience on a daily basis. At the moment I watching my city die.  Not a week goes by that I don’t find myself confronted with yet another, “going out of business sale”.

Now you’d think I was crazy if I told you I could see the writing on the wall about 6 years ago when I told Vid’s dad, “All these businesses are going to be close.  I started reporting signs of the death spiral to poor satori (I actually call people and discuss this stuff) about 8 months ago when I started noticing something I don’t think many would pay mind.  What I saw was sell-outs occurring in various places you’d not expect to see them.

Having been in wholesale I know it is very costly to have empty shelf space in a store. You lose sales like crazy so this is to be avoided at all costs and what I started to see was it was not being avoided.

I thought it might be a fluke but as I continued to monitor I could see it was no fluke. I simultaneously saw the quality of produce plummet and I figured it was a logistics problem. Fuel was really high at the time and basically they are not going to move that truck until it is cost efficient to do so among other things.

Gas prices came down but I have continued to see empty shelves in a variety of businesses and I am talking about innocuous things. Things like Orbit Spearmint Gum the the soldier likes. Where the hell is the gum?

I had the idea, best get used to this. It’s as if the days of heading to the store and having what you want be there (reliably) are over.

Today I needed dark brown upholstery thread and a needle. I went to Wal-mart and could not find the needles. I asked the gal and she said, “That’s because we’re out of them.”

She walked to the peg board and showed me where they should be. There were 5 empty pegs and 1 full peg – a needle that would suffice. I took it from the hook and asked for thread. Guess what? No dark brown thread. I can have beige but not dark brown.::sighs::

Oddly, I was just in another department to shop one of those “seal-a-meal” things. The soldier thinks it might work for his truck. You know him, he is looking for MRE’s. 😉

They did carry the gizmo, however guess what? They were out of the bags that go with the thing. ::shakes head::

I bought the needle, I really needed that thread. Because I know how things work I did not try another Wal-Mart but headed to Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft store. When I walked it looked like a third world country and you got it. They’re going out of business.

What this means is I will have to wait for Walmart to get some thread in or drive – I don’t know where to get the damned thread. I stopped at Micheal’s on the way home and they don’t carry heavy thread. I think this is depressing.

What do I do? Go to Walmart every couple days and see if they have shipped some thread? Based on my experience and observations there may be no thread for weeks. Do I call them every day to have my call routed around the store so I can ask about the $2.65 cent spool of thread? How much is my time worth?

In whatever case my town continues to die. Restaurants boarded up… or about to be. It looks more like a third world country. I am sorry but that is what we are turning in to, it’s happening right before my eyes.

As I drove home I saw people selling Tootsie roll pops are the entrances to the highway. Wonder who they were. They weren’t there a year ago, I’ll tell you that.

As I mentioned on the Astrology Blogging As A Business, watching this go down around me has led me to speculate which businesses will survive. I do see some strong models out there and as I went on and on in the comments on the blogging piece, I hope to be one of them.

I see this blog becoming more and more valuable to people as time passes. I am hoping that as people witness some (or more) of what I see everywhere they will realize the necessity to support the things like this that they value. Because a store like Jo-Ann’s is not going to open to replace the one we lost. Sportsman’s Warehouse, same thing.

You get the idea. These days when something dies something else is not going to spring up in it’s place. Nope… there is going to be a void period and I suspect it is going to be much deeper and darker and longer than most realize.

I’m pretty scrappy and I think I can sustain things however not without help.

What do you make of this?

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Comments

Pluto In Capricorn: Watching Business Die — 64 Comments

  1. Basicly, I’m 32, living in an industrialized country, and now living through my second economic crisis.

    It’s a little known fact, maybe, but the Nordic Countries took a major economic dive caused by a credit crunch in the early 1990’s. My country, Finland, was the one that suffered the worst, also due to the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the bilater trade. (And yes, this was a capitalist free trade country, even though we shared 1000 miles of boarder with the Soviets, some just a little over 100 miles from then Leningrad, because we were much more useful to them producing goods they couldn’t come up with). We had our GNP drop by 13 % and disoccupation rates skyrocket from little over 3 % to almost 19 %.

    Yet, I don’t remember being particularly distressed by this all as a teenager. Of course, my father had his steady teaching job, and we had always been quite cautious economically (living in a house my grandfather built and having just one, always used, car). My father-in-law, however, was forced out of the business, and had to sell the house they lived in. He never game back fully economically, but thanks to the help from the Nordic Wellfare State, my sister-in-law has an MBA (although she prefers to work in a non-managerial job that permits her to be a mother as well) and my fiancé is a lawyer.

    We did come back, thanks to the export markets especially in the high-tech, but it really took a lmost a decade for certain fields. The situation is difficult here again, since we’re a small economy very dependent of the export of our products. But at least none of our banks and very few businesses have taken the kind of risks they did in the 80’s. I also think that we still do, as a community, have the capacity of surviving even some very rough times. So, I’d that the next few years won’t be easy on anyone, we probably have to rethink our place in this World globally, but that there really could be amazing things coming out of this all, especially in the ecology.

  2. JennnyG – Sorry, I just found your comment in the spam filter – thank you. I do feel compelled to write what I see even though I wonder if it’s foolish.

    Hi Candela – Welcome.

  3. aml – sorry I offended you. Please write to me personally any time to talk about this. I think about cultural differences about 24 hours a day and would welcome the chance to talk to you.

  4. There are small business owners in my town who have excellent track records, been around the block for years, and some are going out of business now because: their business model was based on using credit to restock inventory/i.e. car dealerships restock fleets using bank loans…or to meet payroll/i.e. many restaurants do this. And I won’t even mentioned the huge number of home foreclures (plenty of these homes in middle-class, higher end neighborhoods). But the banks simply have stopped lending, and this has not changed despite the stimulus funding for the banks. Meantime, we keep hearing about the outrageous sums paid to the highest tier of bank executives. Many people want someone to blame. Some blame the lower income folks who dared to bite the carrot from subprime lenders who offered too good to be true mortgage loans. Others blame lenders and high priced executives who run these companies. There is so much blame to go around it’s nauseating. And all the anger misdirected into violence? Have you noticed the stories around the country lately in which men kill their families? That’s what threatens to defeat my spirit.

  5. people will flock to the internet to find more specialty stuff.
    like that upholstery thread.
    that was hard to find three years ago, so i guess it wasn’t common enough a need to stock reliably then, and now…

    i’m hoping a new appreciation for quality may arise. handmade stuff. farmer’s markets- buy quality stuff directly from the producer for way less than you’d pay retail…
    i think we’re losing our need for a retail storefront for a lot of things.

    uhm. and people drive up from mexico here to sell stuff by the freeway. wouldn’t be surprised if that’s some of what you’re seeing…

  6. this is how i understand the mortgage mess:

    the banks weren’t forced to make to loans to non cerditworthy people. the law just prohibited them from considering certain factors such as race, gender, family status, or the type of (reliable) income people were receiving in order to qualify for a mortgage.
    )

    i think the bigger issue was allowed non regulated non banks to make these loans. with no accountability or transparency. and then banks bought them up as securities.

  7. But it all circles right back around to the Government control issue. I found this on Wiki…

    “In 1982, Congress passed the Alternative Mortgage Transactions Parity Act (AMTPA), which allowed non-federally chartered housing creditors to write adjustable-rate mortgages. Among the new mortgage loan types created and gaining in popularity in the early 1980s were adjustable-rate, option adjustable-rate, balloon-payment and interest-only mortgages. These new loan types are credited with replacing the long standing practice of banks making conventional fixed-rate, amortizing mortgages. Among the criticisms of banking industry deregulation that contributed to the savings and loan crisis was that Congress failed to enact regulations that would have prevented exploitations by these loan types. Subsequent widespread abuses of predatory lending occurred with the use of adjustable-rate mortgages.[108][109][110] Approximately 80% of subprime mortgages are adjustable-rate mortgages.[111]

    In 1995, the GSE’s like Fannie Mae began receiving government tax incentives for purchasing mortgage backed securities which included loans to low income borrowers. Thus began the involvement of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with the subprime market.[112] In 1996, HUD set a goal for Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac that at least 42% of the mortgages they purchase be issued to borrowers whose household income was below the median in their area. This target was increased to 50% in 2000 and 52% in 2005.[113] From 2002 to 2006, as the U.S. subprime market grew 292% over previous years, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac combined purchases of subprime securities rose from $38 billion to around $175 billion per year before dropping to $90 billion per year, which included $350 billion of Alt-A securities. Fanny Mae had stopped buying Alt-A products in the early 1990’s because of the high risk of default. By 2008, the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac owned, either directly or through mortgage pools they sponsored, $5.1 trillion in residential mortgages, about half the total U.S. mortgage market.[114]”

  8. I dunno if you have Bi-mart in your area, but they carry a generic brand of the seal-a-meal bags cheaper and work great.

  9. Amethyst – is the seal waterproof? This is our big question. We don’t have that store but if you know the name of the generic I can probably find online?

    Also what kind of bags do you use?

  10. I don’t know yet first-hand. But a couple I know swears by them. They have a huge deep freeze and tell me that they freeze anything and everything in those generic seal-a-meal bags successfully including fresh produce from the farmer’s market.

    I’m so jealous. I want a deep freeze so bad. lol Some women fantasize about diamonds. I want a yard to garden in and a deep freeze!

  11. Me too, Amethyst! Though I just got a fridge without a freezer I have to de-frost so I guess I’ll be grateful for what I’ve got for the time being…ha ha…de-frosting is a pain in the ass.

  12. I was listening to a show last night and the person pointed out something else that scarily adds to all of the crap going on. Companies are designing and making things on purpose to not last. In the old days, things were made to stand the test of time, but now, you buy something and it tears up too fast. The person explained that it makes more money for the corporations if a person has to keep buying said product.

    Depressing.

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