Business is booming!  Relatively speaking, at least, the economy is buzzing along.  Things certainly aren’t where they used to be, but they are getting better.  Running a small business is tough, no doubt about it — but it’s always tough.

One of the first questions I hear is “how is business” — and the answer lately has been that business is great!  The business I’m in (commercial real estate and business brokering) is busier than it has been in the past couple of years.  I can’t speak for the entire industry, but our small piece has been rolling along quite briskly.  The period between the 4th of July and Labor Day weekend is usually dead for us, except for the residential leasing, but this year defied past trends and was the busiest we’ve had in a long time.

As I’ve said in the past, I’m a small business.  I’m not Coca-Cola or Dow Chemical.  I don’t need the whole economy to be in a bubble to be doing well.  I just need to do well with and by my clients and customers to be rewarded.  Conversely, I don’t need the whole economy to be in recession for my business to be spiraling downward, either.

It’s not just our business at Bandazian & Holden that has been on the upswing lately.  I’ve been hearing from more and more friends that their businesses are doing the same thing, and that brings me great hope for everyone.

Don’t take my word for it, though.  The news outlets are tapping into the data and things are starting to spring back (or at least stop going down) all over:

From Nation’s Restaurant News: Atlanta’s restaurants seeing better days

Operators in the city pointed to an increase in private parties and convention business, which they expect to continue as the holiday season nears. And while diners remain value-conscious, some restaurateurs reported that increased drink and appetizer orders are giving check averages a boost.
From the Wall Street Journal:  Consumers Show Signs of Stirring
U.S. retail sales rose for a third consecutive month in September, posting a stronger-than-expected increase that should fend off fears of a double-dip recession but doesn’t signal a strong recovery.
And from right here in Richmond, in Richmond BizSense: Retail Slowdown Slowing Down?
For the second quarter, area sales totaled $2.59 billion compared to $2.64 billion in the second quarter of 2009.  The decrease of 1.89 percent is the smallest quarter to quarter change since BizSense began analyzing taxable sales data at the end of 2008—a sign that the slowdown may be flattening out.

Restaurants and bars are also doing a little bit better, growing sales by more than 6 percent in the second quarter. That is a big change from the 1 percent to 2 percent decrease reported for previous quarters.

What has changed?  I don’t know. Maybe people are tired of being scared and sitting on the sidelines, waiting for more bad news.  What I do know is that we got ourselves into this mess, and it’s up to us to dig our way out — everyone working on their small piece of the hole.  There is plenty of money to be made in good times and bad times, trick is that the people have to earn their money in the “bad times”.  Let’s keep making this work!

What do you think?  Have you seen business improving in your corner of the world?

6 Thoughts on “Business is getting better, Richmond”

  • Nathan – fantastic post and congrats on your success in a tough market! I do think the signs are pointing in the right direction, but so much of it is up to US to create our own opportunities. As part of a program I’m involved with, BusinessFirst Greater Richmond, we interviewed about 550 business owners last program year. More than 100 of those firms expressed they had plans to expand, with intentions to add jobs and investment. We’re excited to be working witha team supporting them and also those companies still dealing with some tough decisions. More details of that report can be found here and I think support your very encouraging observations.

  • Nice post Nathan. I think you sum things up pretty well; there are opportunities for small businesses to expand in the worst of times if they provide value for their customers.

    I have also talked to may business owners and managers that are responding more positively in the last few months. Sales seem to be good and outlooks for the future is positive. On the jobs front, in addition to the survey Sara Dunnigan mentions above, while informal, my observation of the job layoff announcements this summer were finally fewer than the hiring announcements.

    Residential real estate is still mixed with quite a bit of the activity in the investment end, but the home owners sitting on the sidelines appear to be making plans.

  • I’ve seen a lot of encouraging news online from residential Realtors all over and the local MLS shows numbers that are a lot better than they were, with houses selling faster and faster. I just saw a tweet earlier today that said one office had 13 out of their 139 listings sell last week with less than 5 days on market. (wasn’t here in Richmond, by the way)

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