Like the dark mood that hangs over the area and the nation in these troubled times, the rain that moved back into the area overnight adds a gray, somber mood to the day.
It’s Thanksgiving Week but a growing number of people tell me they don’t have a lot to be thankful for right now. Over breakfast at Blue Ridge Restaurant, some tell me of missed bill payments, impending mortgage defaults and failure to find a job to replace the one they lost months ago.
Some say they will be late paying real estate and personal property taxes next week because they must make a choice between putting food on the table or making tax payments. In those cases, taxes can wait. This will hurt cash-strapped Floyd County government that depends on the taxes to pay its bills.
Retailers gear up this week for “Black Friday,” that madhouse shopping day after Thanksgiving that some hope will provide enough business to make it for the year but too many businesses are already hanging on by a thread and economists expect a record number to close after the holiday shopping season.
It’s already been a bloody year for some businesses. Circuit City is gone. So is Reed Lumber Company in Christiansburg. Nationally, KB Toys and Goodys Family Clothing went into the dumpster.
Over in Blacksburg, tenants at year-old First & Main Shopping Complex say things haven’t gone as planned. Reports The Roanoke Times:
Blacksburg’s first chic shopping center — a more than $40 million business venture financed by Wells Fargo and Boston investment company New Boston Fund — is coming up to speed. However, as First & Main completes its first year in business, there is uncertainty within the ranks of merchants about what the second year will hold.
Vacant storefronts, one for every four spaces occupied, dot the center, which celebrated its grand opening on Black Friday of 2008. Landlord-tenant money disputes have given way to a handful of lawsuits, one of which charges developer Fairmount Properties with overpromising and underdelivering at the complex on South Main Street.
An empty storefront, once occupied by attorney Bob Boswell, sits on Floyd’s Main Street. The Village Green has two vacant spaces, including the one I vacated at the end of October. On the upside, local musician Mike Mitchell opened his new music store in The Station at South Locust this month and the new community market opened next to the complex. Developers of the Station are still looking for a restaurant tenant and have both retail and residential spaces for rent.
Sears and JCPenney closed stores around the country in 2009 and Penney announced last week that its current “big book” catalog would be its last. Penneys joins Sears in the catalog trash heap. I remember when arrival of the new Sears catalog was big news around our house but Sears dumped its catalog in 1993.
The mood of America is glum. Two-thirds of the public is dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country. Fully nine-in-ten say that national economic conditions are only fair or poor, and nearly two-thirds describe their own finances that way – the most since the summer of 1992. An increasing proportion of Americans say that the war in Afghanistan is not going well, and a plurality continues to oppose the health care reform proposals in Congress.
But this is America and we believe in our ability to bounce back. The economy will rebound although some economists say jobs that were lost in the downturn may not come back. Those who need to work may have to find jobs outside their normal area of expertise and settle for less income and a reduced lifestyle.
America is changing. It may not be the change that many of us want but it will be change we must accept.