Mar 8, 2009

Documenting the Recessionary Carnage

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Left: MC Sports

I have lived through several significant economic recessions, so I am relatively familiar with the effects that a downturn can have on a local economy. What continues to surprise me, though, is the number of larger and higher profile retailers that have closed their doors in the area during the current recession.

I drove in a one-mile radius from my home with the intention of scouting out some of the most visible signs of recessionary business closings. One of the first places I noticed that recently closed was MC Sports, which had been the anchor of a midsized strip mall on Secor Road for many years. The store closed in mid-January after the holiday rush.

Our family was a fairly regular customer of MC Sports over the years, and I remember many trips to the store for the various accoutrements needed for the sports in which our children participated.

Left: S&K Menswear

Another casualty of the recession was the S&K Menswear location at Talmadge and Monroe. I recall purchasing a pair of suits there some years ago and receiving quality service, but frankly since I shifted from business to academia, I rarely wear a suit these days.

Funerals and weddings, I like to joke, are about the only time you will see me in a suit and tie.

S&K Menswear is currently working its way through bankruptcy court, and the closing of the Toledo store is part of a larger reorganization effort. Of course, that is not much consolation to the local folks whose lives were disrupted through the corporate downsizing.

Let's hope the pink-slipped employees all found gainful employment, or that they received some sort of severance to ease the shock of unexpected unemployment.

Left: Penzoil oil change outlet

To my way of thinking, auto service businesses might be as close to recession-proof as a business could get. When people stop buying new cars, they usually take better care of their current vehicles, and I assumed that this process would begin with changing the oil in cars.

Not so for the former Jiffy Lube on Secor at Monroe, which went by the name of Secor Quality until a few weeks ago. This seemed like an excellent location for an oil change business, located as it was in a busy Kroger shopping center, as well as being positioned at one of the busiest intersections in the city.

I am guessing that in the nearly two decades I lived in Toledo I must have visited this oil change business at least 75 times in its various incarnations. Yet today all that remains is an empty building littered with the detritus of a dead business.

There are many more closed businesses in and around Toledo these days, far too many for me to even list here. Yet unlike my previous experiences with recessions - where the closings were typically limited to marginal businesses that looked shaky before the slowdown - the current recession seems to be taking out some businesses that appeared to be thriving.

I just hope that this is the peak of the retraction, and that these higher-profile closings are not harbingers of a worsening decline.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

One minute Fazoli's was there, the next they were gone. No more cheap Italian in town!!!

Anonymous said...

To be honest, I never understood how MC Sports stayed in business. Their stores were always understocked, outdated, and dirty. Businesses like that cannot compete in a market like this.

S&K was never a fascination to me either. I could get the same quality of suits at JC Penny, for about the same price.

Mad Jack said...

NO! ARGH!

I liked S&K Menswear. I bought a few suits from them and they always gave me excellent customer service. The prices and quality were good, too.

The quickie oil change places are going to go the way of the passenger pigeon and dodo bird. The mark up on those places is only a few points on an oil change. The place relies on sales of extras (wipers, air filters, transmission fluid and radiator flush) for their profit. With the economy being what it is, those sales have probably disappeared. That location is primo, though.

I just finished listening to NPR's Fresh Air, featuring Elizabeth somebody or other, a law professor from Harvard (Hahvahd?) and Extremely Learned Person get interviewed about how we, the poor working stiffs, got shafted by people with phone number incomes who occupy big, expensive office buildings somewhere. In other words, people a lot like Elizabeth. I don't think Elizabeth gets that, though.

One prediction Elizabeth made was that the next catastrophic failure will be the credit card companies, and that credit card debt in the US was higher than ten kites riding an ounce of Maui Wowie.

Gee, Liz, you think?

Jason said...

I'm surprised about MC Sports. Toledo is so sports oriented I wouldn't think they'd have a problem. I'm not sure who their competition is though. Well, I generally hate sports of all kinds anyway and was forced to play little league for the Ottawa River Otters until I became old enough to realize that I am not a slave to my parents will. To me the library was way more fun than standing out in a field waiting for a ball to hit me. But still sorry to see a place go that others may have needed.