Thursday, December 11, 2008


So I went out to run a couple of errands tonight and as is my habit at this time of year, I stopped in at Crate & Barrel. It was about 6:30 in the evening, and Christmas Day is exactly two weeks from today, so imagine my surprise to see that except for holiday staff, Crate & Barrel at the Galleria was practically deserted. I have never seen it so empty in the evening, so close to Christmas. Out of curiosity, I stopped in at Pier I, a little over a block away. Same story there. On the way, I passed the brightly lit Container Store, and that, too, was strangely empty of shoppers. I also passed Restoration Hardware, but I didn't have to look inside to know RH is in major trouble. They've been holding their annual linen sale monthly, and I've stopped counting the number of emails I've received from them, imploring me to shop there. To be fair, these stores are across the street from the actual mall, and I didn't go into the mall, so I have no idea how crowded or not that was, but the absence of shoppers in these four stores, in this neighborhood, with less than 14 shopping days until Christmas, is depressing and ominous.

Not that I was about to spend lavishly myself. There's apparently some sort of weird inverse relationship between home values, homeowner's insurance, and real estate taxes that I wasn't aware of until now. Although my house is worth less than ever, my real estate taxes and homeowner's insurance have increased dramatically this year, a fact reflected grimly on my latest mortgage statement, which shows the increased payment that I'll need to make into the escrow account. And don't get me started on energy costs. I love my house, but for the first time in a very long time, I am seriously considering whether or not it's worth it to me to stay here. On the other hand, I would hardly make money selling it in this market, and I don't know where I'd move.

I'm not writing about this to elicit sympathy; I'm writing about it because this is happening all over America. I'm luckier than many people in that I have a job, and that job provides me with a good salary and decent, affordable health insurance for Mike and least it does for now. But what about all the people who don't have that? To turn this economy, and this country, around is going to take time and work. I spent childhood Decembers impatiently waiting for Christmas, but this December all I can think is that January 20th can't come soon enough.


TJ said...

Oh Judi it is the same here, everywhere we stop into it screams a reminder of how bad the economy is.
It has hit here very hard, we are an automaotive state.
When we started with GM there was just over 100,000 employees in the area.
Now we have a handful, mostly salary people who really don't have jobs but they wait as we all did for their tap on the shoulder to be dismissed. Forced retirements, rehires are starting at $12.00 and hour and very little health care.
Most folks want to work for their 30 years and that has been crushed here...and now it ripples down into the community affecting so many others.
Building closing, house standing empty at record proportions.
So my Christmas wish is as everyones is...from the heart for a Merry Little Christmas.
Love TJ

Tammy said...

It is scary for everyone because even with jobs crap rolls down hill. I know where you can move. ;) HUGS

P.S. I learned to keep a wood stove going, but I'm so hot I'm wearing my bathing suit. lol
I'm being very careful, don't worry.

Claudia's thoughts said...

It is the same in Pittsburgh PA. My daughter works retail in jewelry. Usually you will not be able to find parking places, now the Mall is dull and plenty of parkig. I am glad she is attending Nursing School because the jewelry store is closing on Christmas Eve. 18 stores vacant in the mall and more rumored to close.