Sep 172008

If, like John McCain, I had a wife worth $100 million dollars, I guess, like him, I too would probably think the economy was just fine. I don’t have a significant other that is worth that, in fact, he like me, probably has negative net worth. Based on what I’m seeing around here with a lot of closings, the evidence is pretty strong that we’re into a major slowdown.

Some weeks back, Lay and I went to a TGI Friday’s up on Hills borough Ave., and it was closed. I now the whole chain didn’t close, but that was a surprise. Of course there was the big news of all the Bennigan’s closing suddenly, but we also had the local Hardee’s close unannounced several weeks back.

Lay called me a few nights ago from work to tell me he’d noticed that Checkers down on Gandy had closed, and then last week I turned into the Sonic on Gandy to get a sandwich, and it too is closed. Now it was kind of poorly run lately, but it seems odd that all these closings are happening so close together.

Friday night, I saw a friend who is in the packaging business. His company had laid off some people, but he thinks he’ll be OK. Jabil, a major employer in St. Pete announced they were laying off over 100 people. I was chatting with the guy at the car wash near the house. I go there with some regularity, and he said there business was way off.

I’m not sure why, but one of the saddest closings for me was the Albertson’s grocery store in Britton Plaza just around the corner from the house. We have a Publix about equal distance from here in the other direction, but I liked Albertson’s. First, they didn’t seem to move things around every week, so after shopping there for about nine years, I knew where things were, and could get in and out. It was a busy store, but never as busy and hectic as the Publix. Frankly, I don’t like Publix. They cram too much into their stores, and you can barely pass in the aisles, and the distance between the front shelf end caps and the registers is about the width of two grocery carts. On busy days, you just can’t get through that store, and the people are never nearly as nice as everyone at Albertson’s. Supposedly Publix will open in the space vacated by Albertson’s, so at least some of the crowd will get spread around, but I’ll miss Albertson’s.

We’ve seen a bunch of large financial companies crashing and burning. Layoffs are happening, and businesses are closing. I don’t mean this as a political statement, but the wild west days of the Bush administration have allowed a lot of this runaway crash happen, and now Phil Graham, McCain’s primary economic adviser says we’re all just whiners, and things are really fine, and John McCain said just yesterday that the economy was fine. Some months ago McCain admitted he didn’t know much about the economy, but he is now running ads saying he’s the person that can fix Wall Street…and people are falling for it. Go figure.

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