Next door, at the Fast Frame picture-framing shop, where it must be said that nearly every purchase is discretionary, sales collapsed in October and November. But they were "decent" in December, says owner Edwin Castro. "This is a good neighborhood -- lawyers, doctors, professional people," Castro says.
By and large, Bank of America (BA) and Wachovia (WB), which have their headquarters a mile away, have not yet had major layoffs. But major layoffs are coming, with both companies in the early stages of implementing already-approved mergers.
Life and death go on at two nearby businesses -- literally. At a store geared toward babies, the good news is that babies are still being born. The bad news is "they don't need the designer crib," an employee says. The sales decline is double digit. At the funeral home next door, "Our business is going in the hole, just like it always is," says one employee. On the bright side, says another, "Nobody complains."
At Dilworth Packing Co., a package-shipping shop, December business is "a teeny bit off," says owner Tom Hinton, with 463 customers as opposed to 485 last year. Why such a slight decline? "Hopefully, good customer service," Hinton says. "That, and Emory -- I've never seen him not smile."The reliance on Spears is not entirely overstated. For small Dilworth businesses, Spears is in fact a primary connection to the world's economy. He trots in and out of each business, a kind word or joke for everyone he sees, "a hello darling" or a "lucky you, getting off at 4 p.m.," showing patience while an owner is reached on the phone to authorize acceptance of a COD package, and truly slowing down just once -- to try to convince an employee at a medical business to shift the office account from Fed Ex (FDX).
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV