Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

by James Glaser
July 3, 2009

Here it is the 4th of July weekend, and instead of thinking of family picnics and fireworks, a lot of people I know are thinking about their future. A lot of independent business owners are not taking this weekend off, but are going to work to try and pick up a few more dollars or get that project done so they can get paid. Small businesses have no cushion this year.

I talk to local business people, and I have to say that they are a bit pensive in their thinking about their future. Sales are down for almost everyone, but rents are going up, and now the price of gasoline is heading in the wrong direction. Here in the South, when you have a heat wave like we have been having, your electric bill spikes with the AC running constantly day and night.

Maybe it is the heat or all worrying, but people are not joking around like they did before. When you are worried all the time and overworked because you had to lay help off, everything seems a bit more serious. Then when a neighbor has to file for bankruptcy, or they decide to close their doors and walk away, you know there will be less traffic coming near your place of business.

Business people watch what is happening nationally, too. Washington wants to put a good spin on the economy, and they talk about "Green Shoots" sprouting up where good things are happening. But we are still losing hundreds and hundreds of thousands of jobs every month and have been for the last couple of years now.

Everybody knows somebody that has lost his or her job. It might be a friend, a relative, or a neighbor. Well, losing a job is not the end of the world, except if you lose your job when there are no new jobs. That is where we are today. No matter how bad your job gets, you still have to be thankful you have one. The bad thing is that some employers know that and they can cut pay and benefits without worrying about losing people.

So, what do you do? You hunker down and hope the economy comes back. You cut your spending and try and save. If you are in business, you cut every corner you can. However, these cut-backs and corner-cutting multiplied all across America hurts any chance of a fast recovery.

I am an artist/craftsman, and I can tell you people are not buying art or crafts right now. So, what do I do? I keep building and creating in the knowledge that some day things will pick up. When that happens, I'll have plenty of product on hand. This cycle has happened before. Maybe not as severe as right now, but still I have gone through bad times, and when things turned around I have prospered.

So, I keep going to work. Thankfully I am blessed in the fact that I love what I am doing, and I try to sell what I can. I become inventive and use up every bit of material I have, and I keep looking to the future.

So, what am I doing this 4th of July? I am taking off. I have my shop and gallery all cleaned up for the First Friday Gallery Hop, a city wide Art Show they have every month in Tallahassee. I'll hope for some sales, and come Saturday, I'll deliver some crafts to a gallery, as I head out of town to a small town Parade and celebration in Madison Florida.

Like I said, there has been a real heat wave down here, and I have worked as much as I could in it. But I know I need a break. Yes, I do worry about the future, but I think a couple of days away from the shop will recharge my batteries, and next week will be very productive.

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