1. From the April 1, 2010 New York Times…
In the past year, Mr. Scanlon, 49, has laid off two workers and canceled the health insurance of a third, whose hours also were cut. He has scaled back his own family’s health plan, deputized his wife, Sherry M. Speirs Scanlon, 51, as an ambassador to scare up more business and enlisted their 27-year-old daughter, Tashel, to work as the office manager. When he can get a decent price for his four-bedroom colonial in Westchester County, he expects to sell it.
All that, and yet the family-run store he opened on Westchester Avenue in 1991 — a mainstay of this working- and middle-class neighborhood — still teeters on the edge, propped up by signs and sidewalk showcases. Sales have fallen by more than half in the last two years. The economy may be turning around in some parts, but not here, not now.
“We saved $100,000 to start up our business, with three kids and a mortgage,” Mr. Scanlon said with a sigh after a long day of tepid sales. “Sherry worked two jobs, as a bookkeeper and waiting on tables. I worked two jobs — plumbing supply by day, handyman by night. You know how hard it is to save $100,000? And now I find myself apologizing to my family.”
The Scanlons’ struggles at the Pelham Bay Home Center echo through the neighborhood, and the nation. Within one block of the Scanlons’ store, seven small businesses — among them a Chinese restaurant, a fruit and vegetable market, a nail salon and a real estate office — have closed in the last year. Many more, like Pete’s Car Care across the street, are scraping by, hoping to outmaneuver the recession by reducing orders, firing employees and delaying payments. Banks have offered little help; most will not lend to businesses short on cash, although after months of reproach, this is beginning to change…
2. Matty from The Soft Pack, in a recent LARecord interview: “Everyone’s going into the red. It’s almost like charity to put out records.”
3. Many people in the creative arts, and many small autonomous businesses, are watching their dreams wither and die right now due to the economic contraction and/or digital imprecation.
We all speak in private all the time about How Bad Things Really Are—about what we see happening to us and to others—but have you noticed how few of us will talk about it publicly? Nobody wants to appear as the whiner, the complainer, the embittered loser, the pessimist. It can makes us look small, self-obsessed. Some of us fear, with reason, that speaking openly about our view—our experience—of the state of play can cost us future work. Who wants to work with a depressed whiner? etc.
But: if nobody speaks, then no one outside of the circle knows. And when things aren’t spoken of, they fester. The scale and depth of our troubles remain unknown, which makes even beginning to address the problem—this implosion—difficult, if not impossible.
I’m going to write more about this soon, but in the meantime: please feel free to use the “Comments” section here. Be like a dissident. If you can’t speak openly about what’s happening, for whatever reason, then try the pseudonym option.