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How’s Business?


I am wondering how Duluth small businesses are fairing during The Great Recession. I’d like to hear from business owners, employees, the self-employed , the unemployed, etc. How is business compared to, say, ’07? How are you adapting? I’m really curious about this, and I don’t want to start an overly-political thread here. So, how’s business, Duluth?

21 Comments

Chris

about 8 years ago

I work for a small painting business owned by my dad.  We primarily work on residential, new construction and repaints on existing.  Needless to say new home construction is way down.  We've adapted by taking on more exterior and interior repainting jobs.  I've had days, sometimes up to a couple weeks off the last three winters.  After having previously gone 15 years with almost no time off that wasn't my own choice.  It seems to be picking up slightly, but I don't see it getting back to the boom times we had before ' 07 anytime soon.

Dave Sorensen

about 8 years ago

Business at my workplace is definitely down since '07. We're sort of treading water right now.

zra

about 8 years ago

People still gotta have their coffee. We're doing better than most, but you can tell the diff compared to '05.

double barrell darrell

about 8 years ago

As the "owner" of a mom and pop not for profit, it is tight.. We've adopted a pay as you go approach to projects and asked those we help to contribute as much as they can - no give aways - even if it's just $20 a month. We're all working unpaid overtime and have put off hiring even though demand has increased. Even folks who aren't actually seeing a significant decline in wealth are experiencing "psychic poverty" due to the endless news cycle of doom. The fact remains there are enough resources to provide basic food, clothes, and shelter for the planet. The devil's in the distribution IMHO.

Wes Scott

about 8 years ago

Treading water is right. The whole country is treading water waiting for things to change. I've seen forecasts that say flat for a decade for housing.

Mike

about 8 years ago

I am a manager at a restaurant in canal park. We've been consistently up in sales over last year and the year before. Some months as much as %22! People gotta eat and the tourists are still coming north.

Hot Shot

about 8 years ago

Makes me wonder how terribly Hell Burgers was managed. How do you fail in Canal Park?

Meghann

about 8 years ago

I work at Northern Waters Smokehaus and we are doing great! Thanks to all the customers coming in everyday. We are busier than we have ever been. This has to do with our free advertisement on Diners Drive in and Dives. So a big thanks to them!!!

TimK

about 8 years ago

My work is essentially one client /project at a time. There's just under a year long waiting list, but my clientele is all out of state/country.

Wes Scott

about 8 years ago

Tourism was up this summer! The bright spot
in the Northland economy. I know that is one thing I will not cut, my time on the North shore and eating in Duluth's great places.

Claire

about 8 years ago

I don't need to tell anyone how the book publishing industry is doing.

carla

about 8 years ago

Our sales were up this summer but expenses are also up and customer grouchiness about prices is way up. Nimbleness is de rigueur now.

brian

about 8 years ago

For me as a self-employed graphic arts guy, surprisingly good. I left a secure ad agency job just before Lehman Bros and all that hit the fan. I freaked out a little, but 2008 was pretty good, 2009 was down considerably, but the last 2 years have been really good.

I have definitely had to change focus though. Editorial & Advertising illustration is essentially dead not so much from the recession, but from "microstock" and "crowdsourcing" type websites like istockphoto. As far as design and advertising, print work has dried up too. The amount of print ads in publications I do for clients has dropped significantly. 

The majority of my work is now animation and motion graphics, and most of that work is ending up on the interweb and on TV. And I get the occasional book illustration job which is nice because those are bigger, longer term projects. It will be interesting to see where the e-book thing takes the market. Right now, it's still an afterthought after the print book is done, but that will probably flip flop. I really think a lot of businesses have been hit by a perfect storm of recession and technology making so many things a commodity that people expect for cheap or free: News, art, photos, information, ideas

I still get most work from Duluth businesses, but I'm thankful for connections in the Cities and beyond for a good chunk of work.

Gary

about 8 years ago

Hell Burgers was paying $10,000 per month in rent and they actually provided some benefits to their employees.  It was a case of too much overhead for the revenue they were bringing in.  That's a lot of burgers to sell just to pay the rent!

Anna

about 8 years ago

I'm a direct sales rep for a cosmetics company. My customers are definitely ordering more. I'm gaining new customers at a tremendous rate, especially men buying anti-aging skin treatments.

DaVe

about 8 years ago

OK- smoked meats and men's wrinkle cream are doing well.  I'm taking notes in case of a career change.

samh

about 8 years ago

R.I.P. W-Trek Outfitters.

Gwanto

about 8 years ago

Claire, not sure where you work, but the book publishing industry where I'm at is ridiculously busy. I live about 1 1/2 hours from Duluth these days, but I work in Brainerd at Bang Printing as a prepress, plating, and digital print-on-demand operator. I've been on & off 10-hour, 6-day work weeks for the past 2 years. Bang is a small company, but sales & profits have been higher than they ever have been in Bang's history. I'm sure this has to do with good salesmanship, but it's also because a lot of printers across the nation were forced to close when the economy took a poop and Bang was right there to scoop up customers. Plus, Bang pays most of its employees pretty crappily, so per book prices and overhead are lower. Still, I'm surprised myself to say that the book printing industry is very much alive and kicking in this area.

Claire

about 8 years ago

Gwanto, I write for a NYC-based b-2-b magazine that covers the book publishing industry. We're hitting up printers more and more for coverage and for advertising-- I visited Edwards Bros. and Thomson-Shore in Michigan recently; printers indeed are kicking butt these days. But with e-books exploding in popularity, plus Amazon.com continuing to dominate the market, there's a lot of angst in book publishing these days. Everything is changing so rapidly, and who knows which book publishers and which bookstores are going to be around in 10 years. It's a crazy time.

Tony D.

about 8 years ago

Sales of most older X-Comm books are down, but not bad--certainly not as bad as anticipated. Surprisingly high number of self-pub clients this year, from individuals to large organizations. They help me support my publishing habit!

eBook revolution hasn't affected X-Comm much, as for the most part we make highly illustrated, larger (almost coffeetable) books, and most of our titles make great gifts—and a lot of sales come from visitors to the area. Still, making the eBook option available to clients and will likely convert most of our more "narrative" titles in the future. Very glad we are not publishing fiction or poetry, from a financial standpoint, anyway.

And Gwanto, we do most of our printing at Bang, including "Will to Murder," with over 50,000 copies in print! Thanks for your good work!

Claire

about 8 years ago

Coffeetable-style illustrated books, cookbooks, and children's picture books seem to be best insulated from the e-book revolution. So, rock on,  X-Communications!

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