We're hearing reports today that U.S. businesses are in the worst climate for demand in services and goods in 27 years. Are there any reasons for optimism left?
In today's economy, the only "glass-half-full" messages seem to be that things aren't always as bad as they seem. So here's one of those messages: When it comes to the worst business climate in 27 years, large chain stores might be bearing the brunt of the damage, instead of the small businesses.
A local TV station in Lincoln, Nebraska, reports how some small retailers have managed to increase their business while their chain-store competitors have closed.
"Men don't want to walk a half a mile into a mall to buy something as ordinary as a pair of shoes," said Kent Stadler, the owner of Kent's Men's Shoes at 200 North 66th Street in Lincoln. "They like to be able to drive up front, walk in the door, get their shoes and get going."
Stadler said it's his business ethic that is keeping his lights on.
"We just take care of business," Stadler said. "We try to do what we do and take care of the people that walk in the door. If you do that, whether you're selling coffee or appliances or shoes, you will do business."
Customer service seems to make the difference.
Of course, this is purely anecdotal evidence. I would not extrapolate any theme of "small businesses beating chain stores" based on this example.