View Full Version : Economic slowdown? Depression?

Mark Winlund
08-01-2008, 12:52 PM
I am just curious.... have any of you experienced a slowdown in sales? I am primarily in the awards business, with a lot of work coming from a state university located in our town. Orders have dropped off 90%. Offices that had 12 secretaries in them now have one or two. We also have a huge HP (Hewlett Packard) plant in our town. 2 years ago, 6000 people worked there. Now it is down to 2000, with half to be laid off in August. I suspect they will close the plant.... 4 weeks ago, they abruptly pulled out of the chamber of commerce, with the explanation that "it was costing them $16,000 per year". Our only competitor is open only three days a week.

I do understand that awards can be considered a luxury... but this is unprecedented. Are we headed for another depression? What do you think?


Mike Null
08-01-2008, 1:17 PM
My business is exceptionally good this year and my competitor about a mile away is also doing ok. He's not specific but I gather they're ahead of last year. (they are a high volume shop with 10 employees)

Another competitor across town has bought a 100 watt laser and a fiber laser this year so things are apparently ok here in St. Louis.

All of us do awards though mine is more name tags.

Angus Hines
08-01-2008, 1:43 PM
I'm doing well, even in the boating industry....Mike my best customer is in St. Louis and just bought his 3rd go fast boat.

Chris Costello
08-01-2008, 2:06 PM
I cater specifcally to the offshore fishing tournament niche. Although the commercial and sportfishing industry is down overall directly due to the extremely high cost of fuel, I'm very thankful to say that I'm having a good year here in Florida. My perception is that the economy would be BOOMING if it weren't for the out of sight energy costs we're experiencing. I hope that our next congress and president will drill, drill, and drill some more, on top of building about 4 nuclear power plants per state, but I'm not holding my breath.

Chris Costello

Nancy Laird
08-01-2008, 2:31 PM
I'm having a great year! Gross income is up over 49% over '07 to today. I'm lovin' it!! And I'm definitely staying busy.

Ray Mighells
08-01-2008, 2:49 PM
My area has been in a depression for over 30 years. This County, with a population of 67000, 80% of the workforce is in the poverty level income bracket. A lot of very rich people, not much of a middle class with most of them on the lower end, and a lot of poor people. Welfare is rampant. The high cost of operating a vehicle and machinery is ruining a lot of folks. Personally, I've been complaining about the price of gas since it hit $1.50, not so much that I can't afford it, but because I recognize the rip-off. Are you all aware of the big find in ND that extends up into Canada? Enough oil there to completely supply the US for 41 years. In what is referred to as the Bakken area of ND, since 2006 they've drilled 68 producing oil wells pumping light sweet crude that could sell for $16.bbl. Several companies drilling, but it takes a month or more to drill a well and it will take several thousand wells to produce what we need. There is no oil shortage, never was. Oilmen have remarked that "the world is awash in oil". Some of it is harder to get. Oil Companies are the root cause of the high prices, but our government failed to protect the public by proper oversight. Too many oil people in govt jobs. I'm still sending scorching e-mails to speaker of the house, all my senators, Bill OReilly and Fox News every week. Wish you all would too. This might be long, but I'm Really PO'd..

Scott Shepherd
08-01-2008, 2:55 PM
Never been busier, just hired another person. I've had about 5-6 days off this entire year. If it's slowing down, either I'm too stupid to realize it, or it's not happening here.

Gregg Vaughn
08-01-2008, 3:19 PM
My niche is in awards to law enforcement agencies. I've only been in business a little more than a year, but business is growing steadily. I'm close to being ready to "give up my day job."

Joe Pelonio
08-01-2008, 4:18 PM

I think the region and it's dependence on fuel for shipping/receiving goods makes a big difference. Out here anything not produced locally has to come a long way so we may be hitting harder by prices. We have the headquarters of some of the biggest layoffs recently, like Washington Mutual and Starbucks and I have seen several of my regular smaller customers go out of business. Our biggest boat dealer just went

Yes, I feel the pinch. On the laser side I'm doing as much as always, perhaps even more, but the vinyl side is way down. My regulars are spending less, especially those with any business affected by gas prices. A good example is what until recently has been my best customers, parking garage operators, who used to replace entire sign packages periodically as they became worn or just for a fresh design, now they merely have me make rate change overlays and slap them on.

Craig Hogarth
08-02-2008, 12:12 AM
It's been really slow here for a while, most businesses are that way right now. I have a nail shop next door that has never been this slow and they're talking about cutting back on business hours. Several businesses on my street have closed shop for good as well.

I've only had a handful of award jobs over the past couple months. I'm still getting sales on my retail side, but those are usually under $20 sales. On the bright side, I did end up with more $100+ sales this month than any month since I've started, but overall, revenue was much less than this time last year.

Mike Null
08-02-2008, 6:33 AM
While my business has been good, I live a short ways from one of the major shopping streets in St. Louis. Stores, and shopping centers one after the other for about 20 miles. Just in my area there are a large number of retail vacancies. Restaurants in particular have been hard hit but even the big chains have closed stores. On the other hand the big guys are building new stores too and we've got our first Costco coming to the area this fall.

Another phenomena--Aldi and Trader Joe's, both German owned grocery stores, are flourishing.

When we moved here about 12 years ago there was one Mexican restaurant and no Mexican grocery stores. In the same shopping area I've described we now have a half dozen Mexican restaurants and a couple of grocery stores.

Mark Winlund
08-02-2008, 1:02 PM
It's been really slow here for a while, most businesses are that way right now. I have a nail shop next door that has never been this slow and they're talking about cutting back on business hours. Several businesses on my street have closed shop for good as well.

Yes,here as well. All kinds of empty stores in town.... two essentially empty shopping malls, and a number of brand new retail stores that have had no tenants for a year, now. A big housing development just stopped cold. Legend Homes (the largest developer in Oregon) just declared bankruptcy. A commercial development on our busiest commercial street just stopped all work.

My mother lived through the depression, and she likes to tell me how hard it was. Her father worked for the railroad, and had pretty good job security, so they didn't go hungry.

At least I have no debts, so the bankers won't be coming after me!

I think Joe is right.... it is a regional thing. Let us hope that it doesn't spread.


Scott Shepherd
08-02-2008, 1:29 PM
In my unscientific survey, it seems that the SouthEast seems to be doing well. We have vacant stores too, some a year old and no tenants, but they keep building new ones. New malls everywhere, one huge new mall set to open in the next month, another one coming online shortly after that, and hotels being built all over the place. Housing has slowed for sure, but yet they keep clearing land and building more.

Around here it seems everyone talks about how bad is it, but when I ask them if they are doing okay, they all tell me they are doing just fine. They talk of pay raises and promotions, and I ask if their companies are doing okay, and they always tell me they seem to be hanging in there. I ask if their friends or family have lost jobs, and they tell me "No". So it's like this gloom that everyone talks about all the time, yet I can't seem to find anyone who has lost their job, or anyone who knows anyone who lost their job. It's really odd.

Also, we've tried to pass business to several trades recently and we keep getting the same answers from everyone- "Thanks, but no thanks. We're swamped and can't find qualified people to hire, so we'll just have to pass on the work, unless you can wait 8-10 weeks".

Paul Brinkmeyer
08-04-2008, 6:55 PM
Ok. I'm one of the people directly hit by this. After 32 years I was hit with the RIF thing. (reductioin in workforce) For me it was a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time when they decided to reduce costs in my department. No other way to put it. I could have taken a postion overseas, but did not think moving my 84 year old mother to china or Check Republic would be a good thing. So here I am now.

Ralph Lindberg
08-07-2008, 10:26 AM
I suspect depression is a little too strong. We are certainly in a strong down-turn. One of the first things that gets whacked in any down-turn is luxury items. As an example look at Starbuck, a per luxury item, that is closing hunderds of stores, laying off a thousand-plus staff and just reported a loss.
I grew up in the photoprocessing market, and saw this cycle clearly all my life. When the economy gets soft people stop spending money on non-core expenses.

Ralph Lindberg
08-07-2008, 10:50 AM
... Are you all aware of the big find in ND that extends up into Canada? Enough oil there to completely supply the US for 41 years. ...

per the USGS (4.3 b barrels) and CIA fact book (20 m barrels/day) more like 215 days

Joe Pelonio
08-07-2008, 2:56 PM
Again, where you are makes a big difference.

I wonder if the number of new employees hired daily at Microsoft helps prop up the housing prices, while retail suffers from everyone buying less.

Despite the store closures and big company layoffs (more from Weyerhauser now) we just discovered that the value of our house went up $2,000 last month, while my sister-in-law in the SF Bay area had a drop of $14,000 for the same period. Two years ago hers was worth 50% more than ours, now ours is worth 35% more than hers. Interesting too that of the 4 homes recently sold in our neighborhood 3 of the buyers are from CA.

Bill Cunningham
08-07-2008, 8:18 PM
My American sales have dropped off quite a bit, but I think that might be due to the Canadian dollar being on par and sometimes higher than the u.s. buck.. The cdn$ has started to fall again, down to about .94 cents .u.s today, so I'm expecting U.S. Sales to come up a bit.. My overall sales are WAY up this year, I've already done more in sales and profit than I did all of last year... August is always a slow month for me, this is when i usually take a week or so off, but I was so busy from April on, that I needed a rest, and took a week off at the start of July and took the boat for a short trip (3 days, 124 miles, just under 600 bucks in fuel:mad:) With fuel prices dropping a bit, the tourists should start moving around a bit too..

Sarah Jones
08-18-2008, 4:09 PM
hahaah fuel over here in germany after converting out of the euro-liter into the us dollar-gallon, is roughly 9 dollars a gallon. I ride my bike the 12 kilometers to work during the summer, forget paying for gas!!

As for business, its going wonderful. I am the engraving manager at an engraving store on the Airforce base over here, ever year during the months of May-end of July, we have "PCS (permanent change of station) Season" most of the Soldiers get new orders and move to new locations. the military is allot like children's Tee-ball no matter how well the soldier performed during his tour-he gets a plaque at the end. during this time we see a sales increase of around 65 percent than the rest of the months out of the year. My suggestion to you all-if you are by a military base, cater to the military community, they actually have seperate squadron funds for going-away plaques and quarterly awards..