My Greater Area Of Operations (GAOO) here in New Home is fairly limited: I drive 13 miles one way to class, 5 miles the opposite way to the gym or rabbit shelter, and between that to the business that I go to (literally at this point the grocery story, the Big Box Construction store, and the used book store). That said, I tend to go by them enough that small changes strike me.
That is why, this weekend, I was oddly struck by a series of businesses that remain unopen.
The businesses - a party store, two clothing stores (one a national chain), a discount store, a national chain pet store, and the afore mentioned regional book store - had an event which caused a closing of their section of the outdoor strip mall. Given that on any given Sunday - the day I typically go there - the parking lot was full and business was almost seemed pretty good, I assumed that they would quickly have repair work done and be remodeled.
I was, apparently, wrong.
Of the 6 stores, only three have reopened - the party story, the discount store, and the regional used book store. The other clothing store is "open" - but only buying clothes, not selling any (which seems remarkably odd to me). The other two - both national chains - remain closed.
This honestly surprises me.
It is not that these two stores are the only ones of their kind - there are several others scattered across the larger New Home Area. But they were certainly busy every time I went by and (I had assumed) some level of profit generators.
I suspect one of two things is at work here. The first is simply that it is taking longer for these locations to open due to repairs, availability of materials for repair, insurance money, etc. - or simply that they are arguing with the landlord about who is paying.
The other - a little more ominous - makes me wonder if it is a version of a soft closing.
It is easy enough to justify of course, given the current environment - especially due to the fact that the facilities are already damaged. Rather than spend the money to revamp the store, simply break the lease (probably allowed under the "Acts of God" that show up in most leases), eat the losses, and move on. In a way it is like employees that work at a company that seem to disappear in the night and nobody remembers that the left until weeks later when they need to contact them for something.
I do not know that this is an "indication" of economic stability, but I do intend to continue to watch it. If a sign, I expect to see it multiplied many times over in the coming months.