Word on the street: A sampling of thoughts on the state of the economy

Bobbie Kuerbs, Loring Park

Bobbie Kuerbs, owner of Citilights Lighting in Loring Park, is concerned that the state of the economy will continue to put a damper on various aspects of her business.

“We’ve seen the effects in the showroom, but commercially, business has been steady,” said Kuerbs, who lives in Kenwood. It may take longer for the economy to start to take a toll on their commercial business, she added.

“I would expect us to be affected in our commercial business soon, and business will probably go down with our international customers as well,” she said.

Business at Citilights Lighting is down about 25 percent from this time last year, which can be attributed to the economy, she said.

The business is coping with the hard economic times by focusing on local advertising. “We’re lucky that a lot of our business is by word-of mouth. That has helped business,” she said.

The best way to cope will be to maintain good service and customer satisfaction, she said. “Service is our number-one priority and by maintaining that, it should help with our economic struggle.”

Julie Faulkner, Uptown

Southwest resident Julie Faulkner, a graduate student in the sports management program at the University of Minnesota, said she has noticed a jump in rent prices.

“Rising prices, specifically in rent, are my main concern at this point,” she said. Faulkner recently moved from the university’s Minneapolis campus to the Southwest area to find cheaper rent while finishing her degree.

“Despite living further from campus, I’m still paying higher rent than I was last year at this time — and now I have to drive to campus,” she said.

Rent would not be as much of a concern if pay rates were rising with inflation, she said. This, combined with the expense of parking on campus, makes money very tight, she said.

Faulkner is trying to cope with the economic conditions by living more minimally, she said. “I’m going paycheck to paycheck, and traveling is not an option anymore,” she added.

“I don’t see it changing drastically anytime soon, but at this point anything would help,” she said.

Daniel Johnson, Nicollet Mall

Debate continues about whether the country is in a recession, but Daniel Johnson, who was relaxing on a bench on Nicollet Mall in late October, said some people are already facing a more serious problem.

“Depending on where you live, there are people in a depression, not a recession,” he said. “And they have been for the past three years.”

Johnson, who has taken in a renter, said he noticed signs of the dwindling economy long before the government intervention on Wall Street. Some renters he knows of stopped paying rent to put gas in their cars, he said.

“It seems like the laws are set up for renters as opposed to landlords,” he said.

The cost of living is 100 percent or 200 percent more than a few years ago, Johnson said. But salaries aren’t rising with it, and after a while it becomes overwhelming.

To Johnson, the situation is going to worsen, and the coercive ways of Wall Street got the country to this point. He expected at least 48 months of recovery before the economy improves and speculated more businesses would fail before the country completely recovers.

Johnson faulted the trade title companies, the bankers and the lenders whose bad judgment led to the federal bailout, particularly companies like AIG. Just days after receiving their $85 billion loan, executives from the insurance company spent over $440,000 on a weekend retreat in California — an act that infuriated Johnson.

“It’s a slap in the face of the taxpayer,” he said.

Johnson used to manage one or two vacations a year, but hasn’t gone on one for two years. He recently took part in a conservative cash program, and called himself a very careful spender.

“I keep track of how much toothpaste I put on my toothbrush,” he said.