Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reporter's Notebook

Paul Leonard can be reached at

Looking beyond the Holidays

They’ve been welcomed like victorious Allied soldiers liberating a small French village this holiday season, with the “thwack” of cash registers and door chimes jingling in adulation.

Yes, I’m talking about the American shopping public, the insatiable force behind an increasingly integrated worldwide economy brought to a standstill, in large part, when they decided to stay home last year.

But now they’re back – at least for now.

Though undeniably a boon for shopping centers, boutiques and the U.S. Postal Service this holiday, the question of what reinvigorated shoppers might do once the tinsel is packed away, remains unanswered.

Just ask any local retailer about the future beyond the New Year, and you’re likely to get a blank stare, a short laugh or a reply like Westfield Vancouver Mall general manager Connie Stankivicz’s: “Let’s talk when this is all over.”

The worst thing about an economic recession is that it tends to mire people in a difficult and exasperating present, with the focus not on next year, next month, or next week. For some, making it through a single day is enough.

But there is still much to be thankful for this holiday season. If nothing else, the thousands of shoppers returning in force is indicative of an almost-miraculous optimism by Southwest Washingtonians facing down double-digit unemployment, falling home values and tightening lines of credit.

Maybe it’s just gratefulness, or relief that the promised financial apocalypse did not come to pass. Instead, many of us are still here, with more than a few bucks to spare.

And some of us are bound and determined to spend it.

Happy Holidays from the VBJ

Happy holiday wishes to you, your family and friends, from all of us at the VBJ.

Just Business will next appear Wednesday, Jan. 6.

See you next year!