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Do local businesses see the economy getting better?
Oct.11, 2010
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Many businesses see no positive changes, a couple see slight changes

By Jennifer Kotila
Staff Writer

DASSEL, COKATO, MN – Federal Reserve Governor Kevin Walsh, during a recent panel discussion at Georgetown University in Washington, said, “Markets are normalizing, if not normal. The economy is improving, if not improved.”

So, what does that mean for local, small-town businesses? Have they seen the economy improve? Not really, most say.

Many of the local businesses contacted said that business has not improved, even though the federal government is saying that the economy is improving.

The owners of both Peterson Pharmacy, Dassel, and Keaveny Drug, Cokato, said that customers are still not filling their prescriptions as they should. Customers have been stretching 30-day prescriptions out to 45- to 60-day prescriptions.

People are not going to the doctor like they normally would when they first get sick, said Kelly Keaveny. They are counting more and more on over-the-counter drugs to combat cold and other illnesses, he said.

Because people are waiting to go to the doctor, they are more sick when they go, and they end up paying for a stronger antibiotic or are put on dual treatments, Keaveny said.

With people filling prescriptions less often, there is less traffic in and out of the store, said Mark Peterson, owner of Peterson Pharmacy. Therefore, sales for cards and other goods at Peterson’s Pharmacy is down as well, Peterson said.

“As much as I’d like to say that the economy is getting better, around here, the unemployed are still unemployed,” said Keaveny.

At the Marketplace, Cokato, people are still buying, but buying more conservatively, said manager Larry Wasmund.

The Marketplace does a customer count, and has had the same number of customers, if not more, he said. But there have been less sales.

The owner of Red Rooster Foods of Dassel, Cam Ryan, chose not to comment, since they have only owned the grocery store since May and he did not feel he could give a fair assessment.

Most of the restaurants and cafes in Dassel and Cokato have not seen any improvement, either.

“I came up with more specials that I thought people would feel they could afford in order to try and keep customers coming in,” said Pam Braatz, owner of Daniel’s Family Restaurant in Cokato.

“If [the economy’s] improving, I’d sure like to see what part is,” said owner of Jay’z Bakery of Dassel, Jason Zimmerman. He has seen his costs go up while business has slightly fallen.

The Grounds Coffee Shop in Cokato always has seasonal ups and downs, said owner Danelle Erickson, but business did slow down gradually when the economy went bad.

Although has not seen anything getting any better, owner of Dahlin’s Farm and Home, Kurt Dahlin, said that, up until July, his sales had been close to double what they should be compared to the amount of inventory he is able to have on hand.

“Customer support is a big part of that,” he said.

Since Dahlin has moved to his new location on Highway 12 in Cokato, he has not had the capital to invest in the amount of inventory he would like in order to fill the building.

While many of the businesses have not seen improvements in the economy, some are optimistic.

“Business has picked up this year compared to last,” said Latté Da owner, Caryn Riebe. “I think when the news stopped talking about [how bad the economy is], people started coming out again.”

Although last winter was bad, all in all, business has been pretty good, Third Street Café owner, Janice Bapp, said.

“Local people want small towns to keep going, so they do what they can to help small businesses,” Bapp said. “This summer was good, as summers always are.”

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