Monday, March 2, 2009

Simple Pleasures Rule in Chapel Hill

Local Business Solutions Come to the Economic Rescue

Vacuum Cleaner Hospital, Carolina Closets Plus, Bikas Building of North Carolina LLC, Scrapel Hill Art of University Mall, Turning Point Gallery and Triangle TRACKS bolster low consumer confidence with local connections and solutions.

By Elizabeth Shugg

Consumer confidence dropped to 25 in February—its lowest level in more than 41 years. A survey from The Conference Board research consortium in New York confirmed the drop. Just to put that in perspective, consumer confidence was at 100 in 1985!

When you consider household wealth shrank by $5.6 trillion from the end of 2007 until the third quarter of 2008 (source: Wall Street Journal), it’s clear many consumers lack confidence in the economy because they lack money to put in it! The recession impacts what we buy, how we spend our money and where we shop. Prudence rules.

The Silver Lining

The silver lining for consumers during an economic recession is that simple pleasures and investing in local businesses rule. Clean and comfortable surroundings, home cooking, home theaters and video games offer ways to cut costs but maintain happiness. A Jan. 31, 2009, New York Times article titled, “Recession Can Change a Way of Life,” reports that “in today’s recession, we can also expect to turn to less expensive activities—and maybe to keep those habits for years. They may take the form of greater interest in free content on the Internet and the simple pleasures of a daily walk, instead of expensive vacations and N.B.A. box seats.”

Consumers are also limiting expenditures to repairs whenever possible, instead of buying new. That’s why repair companies made Associated Content’s list of businesses that could actually make money during the recession.

Chapel Hill’s business community has weathered economic downturns in the past and understands how consumers feel. Local businesses offering repair services, such as Vacuum Cleaner Hospital in Chapel Hill (rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau) helps keep homes clean and comfortable for less with vacuum tune-ups and replacement parts.

“Our service manager has over 18 years experience and he takes great pride in restoring your vacuum to its original factory fresh condition,” says Owner Tom Proctor. “Most repairs are under $60 and can lengthen the life of your vacuum by several years.”

Spending $60 on a vacuum repair is much more appealing than spending $360 on a brand new one. But, if your vacuum is beyond repair, Vacuum Cleaner Hospital also offers great prices on quality products “you can hand down to your children 15 years from now,” Proctor says. “In these tight economic times, you can't afford to buy a cheaply made vacuum only to have it break in a year or two.” At the rate our economy is going, that might be something your children will greatly need—and appreciate! Visit www.vacuumhospital.com to view the company’s product line, which includes quality cleaning supplies.

Art offers another way to enjoy life’s simple pleasures during a down economy. Scrapel Hill Art is a project started by University Mall and the Town of Chapel Hill Public Arts. Next month, the Scrapel Hill Art Contest and Exhibition at University Mall opens and will feature works created with recycled and non-recyclable materials. Visit http://scrapelhillart.com to read about the individual artists and their community connections. Scrapel Hill Arts will also soon be a major part of the 2ndFriday Artwalk.

Turning Point Gallery is sharing its connection to art and artists with the community as well. Artist Maeve Harris and gallery owner Jerri Meldrum are actively involved in horse rescue projects, and Turning Point Gallery has a significant national reach as one of the country’s top horse art galleries. Turning Point Gallery’s artists don’t limit their community outreach to horses. Artist Simon Bull is working with the gallery to present a joint fundraising program in support of local dog rescue projects.

All Work and Plenty of Play

Carolina Closets Plus of Chapel Hill recently completed a custom design for a combined kids play and work space. The work-from-home trend continues and may expand during the recession, as laid-off employees look for new sources of income or take contracting positions they can manage from home. Carolina Closets Plus’ unique design makes keeping an eye on the kids while getting a little work done effortless and fun for everyone involved. Check it out, and contact Carolina Closets Plus to design your home office/play space today.

Stress Relief

Recessions create stress. Stress weakens health. That’s why many consumers are willing to pay for products and services that reduce stress during tough economic times. A deep massage from a company like Massage Envy in Apex and Raleigh, which were both built by Chapel Hill’s Bikas Building of North Carolina, LLC, goes a long way toward lowering stress and therefore preventing mental and physical ailments.

Fun is another great stress reliever. Children may not understand the recession, but they do feel the impact of stressed parents and fewer FUN funds. Triangle TRACKS, a local parent resource site and social network, links to 1,800-plus resources for children, from museums and schools to camps and parks. Free is the name of the game during tough economic times and Triangle TRACKS offers some great ideas for a FREE, FUN time at this link.

Stay positive and cherish the simple pleasures in your life during this difficult economic time. Local businesses and resources are available to make life easier as we respond to this recession the way Americans always do: by bouncing back!

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