Some More Signs of the Depression

Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Posted in category Uncategorized
Comments Off

Here in Southeastern Michigan, we got a head start on y’all in terms of the Depression. Things look especially bleak here. There are empty strip malls everywhere, especially in the medium-to-nicer ‘burbs. There are unfinished strip malls all around where I live. There are half-finished condo and townhouse projects, with the finished phases being 50% – 80% empty, and the rest of the properties consisting of 4-foot weeds. There are prime pieces of property on the semi-rural, north end of the ‘burbs that are cleared for development, with the home models sitting empty, and nothing but acres and acres of weeds filling the land.

So many niche businesses have closed – scrapbooking stores, mom-and-pop pet stores and grooming businesses, car detailing/accessory shops, small clothing stores, gift shoppes, florists, sports memorabilia shops, small gyms, etc. There are more empty gas stations and auto service centers than I have ever seen before. Nice – but newer – restaurants and taverns that opened at the height of the boom are mostly gone. Only the neighborhood staples and successful chains are going to remain. The super-duper auto dealers – who built massive castles on huge plots of land – are starting to fall.

Every neighborhood – from lower middle class to upper middle class – has numerous empty houses. Most of the Starbucks here are closing. Retail stores are cutting back hours: opening later and closing earlier. Even the big, indoor malls are emptying out rather quickly. Harley-Davidson had built some beautiful mega-stores here in the last few years, and 2-3 years ago, you were lucky to push your way through the door and find a salesperson. Now, in the middle of a Saturday in summer, the salespeople sit around, and there is hardly anybody milling about the dealership. They just aren’t selling $18,000 bikes. My doctor – a long-respected practitioner, here – force-fed me referral sheets last time I was there. For every patient referral, I get a $10 gift card to a Home Depot, or whatever. The office manager also gave me DVDs highlighting the practice, for handing out to my friends.

Massage therapists are going out of business everywhere, including my own guy. My hair stylist, a highly-skilled stylist who charges in the $45 – $60 range, said business is down 40%, and he’s down to working 3 days per week. His salon has gained two new renters who closed up their own salon businesses. I am getting coupons in the mail from local businesses that have never before offered coupons. All those huge, beautifully-built, stand-alone jewelry stores that went up over the last 6-8 years, when a person’s house was the ideal ATM? Closing. I never used to dare venture into a Wal-Mart or a Lowe’s (or Home Depot) in the middle of a weekend day, because of the nagging crowds. Now I’ll go because the parking lots are 20% full, or less.

Be Sociable, Share!
Both comments and pings are currently closed.