Friday, September 10, 2010

Back to Small

Right now, I think we're in the "Little Engine That Could" mode. We're SO weary of the uncertainty that the Great Recession has bred, and looking around desperately to see even the faintest signs of recovery.

I know I do. Every time I see a real estate sign on a lawn, and a "SOLD" or "IN ESCROW" has appeared on top, I give a little cheer. Then, going down into the commercial district, as I see small storefronts with "closing" banners, even though I don't know these enterprises or their owners, I feel a sadness. This wasn't just the folding of a business, it was the relinquishing of a dream. And yes, the closing of corporations like Circuit City or Mervyn's is disturbing, what with the adding to unemployment rolls and all, but it's the little deaths that pain me even more. I envision the person who rented the space, invested in inventory, took out credit card debt for advertising and promotions...whether the company lasted a month or many decades (such as Kessler's Jewelers in Burbank), its closing diminishes a community. True, there are venerable businesses that ostensibly close for lack of a young generation to carry it on, but you can't tell me that our current pains don't also have a bearing on the decision.

Didn't even the mega-corporations (like the fast-food chains or computer companies) start with someone's mullings over a kitchen table, or in a garage? It has been the "little" ventures on which our country was founded and has evolved. Capitalism and competition are not dirty words.

There needs to be return a genuine work ethic. "Get rich quick" was not always in our mindset, and the fears of "being poor" have led to average people falling for scams. Can't we each look in our email boxes each day, and see questionable offers for making $$$$$$ per day or week? These offers have always been around, but it seems like they're proliferating--to pander to people's fears and desires to try to carve out some control and security.

I LIKE independent stores. Going up and down Magnolia Boulevard through Burbank, North Hollywood, and Van Nuys, it's almost a way of getting a read on the character of a neighborhood. The last few years have seen more and more store fronts putting their wares outside onto the sidewalk. It actually lends charm, I think, to what used to be a buttoned-down area. We've taken on an open-air bazaar atmosphere, much more inviting.

There is much press about big-corporate bailouts by the government. I'd like the private sector to begin problem-solving how we "little people" can quit waiting for "things to get better," and push things along with hard work, optimism, and creativity. It's happened before in our history. Why not again?

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