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Tough times indeed

But then again ...

I know that times are tough. I see it in the news. Unemployment at its highest rate ever. Big companies like Microsoft laying off 5,000. Stores closing. But I am having a little trouble here understanding a couple of things.

First of all, those store closings. Two big ones for me lately. Waldenbooks in the Wyoming Valley Mall and Circuit City not far away. I visited both last week. They were so packed, it made Black Friday look like a ghost town. I am always sad to see a bookstore close. When the Tudor Book Shop in Kingston shuttered its doors, I felt like I was losing a friend. Now Walden? But the three lines to the registers were 20 deep! People were climbing over each other to buy books. Now I know everyone loves a bargain, but this was impressive. And the shelves were nearly bare. It was more than a little sad.

I also will miss Circuit City. Being a gadget/techno geek sort of guy, it was always a fun place for me. I hate to think of all the dollars I left there. But like hordes of locusts the crowds of bargain hunters were busy picking the carcass clean. I went with the idea of picking up a cheap monitor. One had a price tag of $120, but there was a sign saying that because of the closing it might not be correct. Great, I thought. It’ll be cheaper. I asked a harried clerk about it and he checked the price. No, it was really $180. Huh? That’s when it dawned on me. After checking a few more prices, it was obvious there were not any bargains there that day. But that didn’t stop the line to the checkout from taking 45 minutes from end to end.

So let me get this straight. These two stores couldn’t sell enough stuff to stay in business. But put a sign up that says liquidation, and stand back. Where were all these people who were buying those huge LCD TVs before the going-out-of business signs went up?

And the other small observation? We like to lunch on Saturday. We tried three of our favorite spots: Twigs in Tunkhannock, The Olde House Bistro and J&J Deli in Dallas had not a single empty spot. At Twigs you couldn’t even get in the door. So even with the economy in tatters, people not working and gas prices inching back up, the Saturday lunch bunch is still more than healthy. Am I missing something here or what?

Evidently the key to making it in this brave new economic world? Go out of business or sell lunch.

Or then again … I could be wrong.

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