Assistant News Editor
Many of America’s businesses have been facing financial difficulties because of the recession; however, this trend did not seem to hold true in Murray until recently.
Ayman Hassan, owner of Baldy’s Grill, said he is seeing a definite difference in restaurant sales.
“Compared to a couple of years ago, sales are dropping,” he said.
The reason the delivery restaurant’s sales have dropped, Hassan said, is because of the country’s economy.
“I think it’s most likely because of the economy and the gas prices are so high too,” he said. “All the prices are going up. Everything is going up because the prices and cost of living is very high now.”
Hassan said the way to compete with other restaurants in Murray and continue to flourish is to give the customer bigger portions.
“(We should) give them more portions, increase the portions and make them feel like they get more for their money,” he said.
The goals for his business, he said, are to remain number one delivery in Murray.
Nick’s Family Sports Pub, however, has seen increases in business, floor manager Chad Berteokamp said.
“Business has increased quite a bit,” he said.
In the summer business slows down, but since the start of the fall semester, it has sped up, he said.
In order to protect itself from the suffering economy, Berteokamp said the pub would have to keep its reputation up and prices down.
“The first step is going to be advertisement and making sure everyone knows about us, that we have a good reputation and what a good business we are,” he said. “I think too, having better specials, and cheaper prices always brings better business, that and keeping a good reputation increases business dramatically.”
Several businesses are finding ways to cut costs. Debit cards are discouraged or no longer accepted at Gloria’s and Quarter’s Campus Grill.
Gloria’s daughter Julie Sears said Gloria’s restaurant can still take cards, but prefer cash because of card fees.
“They charge us each time we swipe a card,” she said. “When you’re a small business, you have to watch every little extra charge because it could add up to be several hundred dollars a week, just to take cards. That’s quite a bit of money.”
Businesses such as University Book & Bean are not only doing well, they are profiting in the midst of the economic downfall.
Megan Perkins, assistant manager said the business has grown in the last year.
“We’ve only been here for two and a half, three years, so compared to previous years, our business has actually grown tremendously, especially with our textbook side of everything due to rentals and special buy back and those things,” she said.
The textbook side of the bookstore is the backbone of the business, Perkins said.
“I feel like with us being locating near the college and the easy access for students, the textbooks will hold us together if the economy does suffer more than it is right now,” she said.
Lance Allison, president/CEO of the Murray Chamber of Commerce, said the University is a major factor in helping businesses.
“There is no indication that we will see a major decline (in business),” he said. “We’ve weathered the worst of it very well. Murray State University and the student population have a huge impact on helping us weather the storm.”
Another reason, he said, is because of the different kinds of businesses in Murray.
“Our diverse industry also helps,” he said. “We don’t have all of our eggs in one basket.”
Chris Wooldridge, district director of the Murray State small business development center, said Murray has been isolated from the economic downfall because of the mix of employers in the city.
“Murray has some cushion against economic downturns by having a strong mix of large employers which are relatively recession resistant as well as a strong small business sector,” he said.
The Murray-Calloway County Hospital and the University both represent large employers fitting in two areas: healthcare and education. Both of these institutions will remain throughout economic crises, he said.
“In addition, Pella, Kenlake Foods, Briggs & Stratton and other large employment firms appear to have been able to weather this economic downturn of the Great Recession relatively well,” Wooldridge said.
The community commerce, the buying and selling of products, and the large, well managed recessionary resistant management teams and well managed small business sectors, Wooldridge said, keep Murray alive and vibrant.
Despite Murray’s ability to stay isolated from economic hardships, Wooldridge said the fear of a double-dip recession or simple continuation of the present one will eventually reach small towns like Murray.
Said Wooldridge: “It must be noted that no community can stay unaffected from a protracted economic downturn indefinitely. If the Great Recession impacts continue to hamper economic recovery, or if a double dip recession occurs, the long term effects of the economic distress will begin to reach all communities at a higher level.”