My neighbor Ed is doing okay -- he runs his own business and he's hanging on through tough times. But, he tells me, things would be better were he only going out of business.
Doesn't sound right, I know, but my neighbor had a story to tell about the way life has changed for small businesses during a big recession.
I was over at his house about a week ago, and mentioned things look grim on Ventura Boulevard, the main shopping stretch in our part of Los Angeles. Every day, a new store tacked up a huge banner that read "going out of business" or "store liquidation."
Ed smiled and said the situation wasn't quite that bad.
Those sad signs? Just a new trick to bring in business. These days, people hold on to every dollar they've got -- and will only spend when they think the bargains are too bold to pass up. That's why stores like the Gap hand out coupons awarding you forty percent off, or hold 2-for-1 sales. Only deep discounts draw those wallets out into the light of day.