Skip to comments.Downturn tough for Portland mom-and-pops (housing bubble gone = worthless stores bankrupt)
Posted on 06/13/2008 7:53:39 PM PDT by 2banana
Stacey Korn arrives just before 10 a.m. to unlock her shop on Northwest 23rd Avenue. She hoists orange molded plastic benches from the back and places them outside under the windows. Then she sets up her sidewalk sign:
"Shop 'Hello' -- nifty gifts for the whole family," it says. "Patronizing us is like flirting with a wealthy widow. You can't overdo it."
Korn needs her sense of humor now more than ever. As the economy slumps, sales at her Hello Portland store at 525 N.W. 23rd Ave. are half what they were soon after opening in late 2005. Her family of four went from living almost entirely off the shop's income to barely getting by and deciding to close in September.
"My friends at Irvington School don't know my kids qualify for free or reduced-price lunch," said Korn, 41.
Her boom-to-bust story is about the kind of shop that falters in a downturn. Hello Portland sells lots of stuff people want -- from $45 hip handbags to $25 "I might barf" baby onesies -- but nothing anyone truly needs. More than that, it's a story of a small merchant's struggles, of the people left behind when a local store fails.
"You hear people say, 'I love this. I can't live without this,' " Korn said. "And then they walk out the door."
Korn gets by with her trademark pluck.
She left a dysfunctional family at 16 to attend acting school in New York and then in Los Angeles. She turned to graphic design school and did secretarial work at advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather, learning computer skills thanks to client Microsoft.
She found a creative niche designing saucy greeting cards for Paper Moon. "Desperate Career Girl," said one. "Sexual harassment: She could dish it out, but could she take it?"
(Excerpt) Read more at oregonlive.com ...
Are you kidding me? I am supposed to feel sorry for these businesses? She rode two booms pretty well, but this bust is going to overwhelm her...
You save a nice cushion, and try to make sure your store has a semi-useful niche. Why would anyone shop there even during boom times?
45 dollar handbags?? Am I the only one who thinks women are completely nuts.
ROFL - You must be kidding about the $45.....
you must be joking....
I wonder how the “Scotch Tape Boutique” is doing?
$45???????????? I can’t remember the last time I pd that for a handbag. I have a Prada. I also have Chanel, Isabella Fiore, Juicy, Thomas Wylde. Accessories are my weakness. (sigh)
Yeah I think I’m getting my bride from India or is there that insanity there too??
I wouldn’t spend 2100 dollars on my entire wardrobe.
They do now!
You’re going to have to get a bride from a remote village where no one has ever seen an electric light bulb.
They do now. Nice little burden you just dumped on your kids.
Sometimes stress gets the better of Korn. A week ago, she parked her car just over the line into the valet zone for the restaurant next door. The restaurant had it towed. The cost: $210.
The mean old restaurant acted like its parking spaces were for its customers! It was so unfair!
When a customer asked if she could buy the shop's melamine plates on the Internet, Korn told her, "Yeah, you could. But I'm here selling these so that I can feed my kids."
What a sales pitch.
I cannot stand this woman.
As someone who has worked both sides of the street in brick and mortar mom-and-pop retail and on the internet, I sympathize with her. But this kind of whining really grates.
No matter where you are selling, you have to stress the value for the customer. If you are brick and mortar, then in the internet age you're selling your personal service and you're selling instant gratification. A person who has a sudden impulse for a silly plate or handbag can satisfy it instantly at your shop. That's what you sell. If, on the contrary, you beg your customers to buy from you out of pity, you're going to lose them all.
There ya go. Tell the customer that if she buys from your shop, she can have the plates TODAY, and no shipping charges!!!
Besides, the shopowner only needs to feed her kids supper, they're getting 2 taxpayer funded meals at school every day. Time to sell the Wii on eBay, kids, so Mommy can buy mac & cheese.
If her shop is next door to a tony restaurant with valet parking, she is probably paying a significant lease rate. Selling off the nternet may well be the way for her to go.
She doesn’t sound like she’s feeling sorry for herself.
She knows hers is a “boom” business; she seems to have maintained a sense of humor.
Ironically, I would think the rising cost of fuel is going to make internet shopping more expensive in the long run. At some point it’s cheaper for a trucking company to deliver 100 items to a retail store than for FedEx or UPS to deliver those 100 items directly to customers’ front doors.
The high cost of fuel is going to put us in a depression that will make the depression of the ‘20’s seem like a sundayschool picnic by comparison.
This will be a Democrat wet dream come true. The Democrats are waiting and licking their chops.
I take it that there is no love lost between her and the restaurant owners. You mean to tell me they didn’t recognize her car? They probably did and and said, “Tow the wench”.
Good point. Add to that the fact that NY state is now charging sales tax on internet purchases. Won't be long before others follow.