By Margot C. Lester, Columnist
New Store Updates
The south Orange County literati have reason to cheer. A new, independent bookstore, Flyleaf Books, will open in mid-November at Chapel Hillâ€™s Midtown Market (752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.; flyleafbooks.com). The shop is owned by Michael and Jamie Fiocco, Land Arnold and Sarah Carr. Jamie Fiocco, Arnold and Carr â€“ veterans of book selling from the retailer and publisher side â€“ will run the store.
â€œAs we each were separately thinking about how to put our experience to work in Chapel Hill-Carrboro, we ran across Ron Strom, the owner of Midtown Market,Â whoÂ at the urging of hisÂ 18-year-old daughter, Hannah, was determined to find a local, independent retailer to co-anchor his center alongside Fosterâ€™s Market,â€ Jamie Fiocco recalls. â€œThatâ€™s how the idea began.â€
Despite the economic downturn, the trio decided to go for it.
â€œFor us, aÂ good opportunity in the right communityÂ trumps a national economic slowdown,â€ she continues. â€œWe think that Chapel Hill-CarrboroÂ is the right place for an independent bookstore to thrive, a community that honors independent businesses and understands the importance of buying local and how local dollars help communities grow. We are, above all, readers ourselvesÂ andÂ our passion is fostering a community dialogue about books and authors and local happenings.â€
Though the store will open for business next month, it will observe its grand opening in January.
In other new store news, Mikynâ€™s Asian Market is upfitting its new space at 104-F Carrboro Plaza and could be open as early as next month.
Not too small to fail
Ninety-seven U.S. banks have closed so far this year. Only two were in the Old North State, and none was around these parts. So why should we care? There are at least a couple of reasons, according to Christian Lundblad, Edward M. Oâ€™Herron Distinguished Scholar and associate professor of finance at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.
â€œOne: These failings are indicative of the widespread nature of this financial crisis â€“ this is not exclusively about the large banks that get much of the press,â€ he says. â€œTwo: To the extent that consumer and business confidence needs to continue this process of turning around, news of more of these failures has the potential to further rattle the economy and jeopardize the nascent recovery we may be observing.â€
And then thereâ€™s the ripple effect. These failures create real problems for real people â€“ employees, loan recipients, etc.
â€œOn the policy side, we should help those that suffer most in this transition â€“ some kind of stopgap unemployment benefits and longer-term retraining opportunities if it looks like this industry or any industry will be forever altered,â€ he suggests. â€œAnd to the extent that some local banks may play an important role in credit allocation to particular communities, we need to think best about how to make sure this does not severely limit the ability of poor or minority communities to purchase homes, open new businesses, etc.
â€œThere is an emerging concern that the disappearance of many of these local banks might halt what is called the democratization of finance â€“ certain communities have had access to financial products and credit in ways they never had in earlier decades. While this clearly came with some significant problems associated with excess debt, it also facilitated things like entrepreneurial activity in communities that were previously shut out.
â€œThe disappearance of some of these banks may have important implications for the ability of certain communities to pursue good business opportunities and jobs.â€
Itâ€™s not death, destruction and pestilence for everyone. Some executives think things may be moving up, according to a survey by CDW IT Monitor, which monitors the information-technology industry. It found that 63 percent of execs at companies with at least 1,000 employees see the economy improving between now and the end of the first quarter 2010. In February, only 43 percent were that optimistic. Additionally, only 10 percent of those big-company execs expected layoffs during that period, down from 17 percent in February.
Suzanne Gordon, chief information officer at SAS, the global software giant in Cary, agrees.
â€œI think the economy is going to get better, although how quickly is anyoneâ€™s guess. But I am optimistic,â€ she allows. â€œWhatâ€™s interesting is that in past recessions, certain global regions were impacted more significantly than others â€“ but this time, the entire world felt the impact due to the true nature of operating within a global economy.Â
â€œWill some regions come out of this recession before others or will it happen universally around the same time?Â I think it will improve region by region, but with more overlap than in the past.â€