Jefferson Westside Businesses and Residents Have Varied Responses to Recession

State of the Economy Has Differently Affected Local Businesses
By: Sawley Vickrey

The recession is still having its way with some small-town businesses and residents.  But at least not all of them.

Serving perhaps as an example for the rest of the country, businesses and residents of the Jefferson Westside neighborhood of Eugene, Ore. have been affected differently by the country’s economic woes, showing that the worst effects of the recession are in the past for some.

“I figure if your restaurant hasn’t shut down yet, you’re probably going to be okay,” said Anne Gregory, a restaurant server and resident of Jefferson Westside.

Gregory works part-time at Sushi Domo on Green Acres Road in Eugene.  She was hired there in August of 2008, just before the economy took its dive.

Gregory said that although she noticed a drop in business after the recession began, Sushi Domo has not laid off any of its employees as a result.  In fact, the restaurant still steadily hires.

Inside of Wheel Works

However, the recession has been especially hard on Wheel Works, a bicycle and scooter store on Lawrence Street and West 11th Avenue.

“People by essentials in a recession, not bikes,” said Wheel Works owner Bill Cole.

His business annually dips during cold-weather months anyway, but his overall business has seen a “tremendous drop” this year.

He said that his business usually picks up when gas prices rise.  He opened the store in 2001 and saw the peak of his business in 2008 when gas prices were at their highest.

With gas prices back down, so too is Cole’s business.  With slumping sales and no increase in demand for repairs, Cole didn’t lay off any employees.  Instead he had to cut their hours, meaning that full-time workers are now part-time.

“I work 20 hours (per week), if I’m lucky,” said Kevin Campbell, a Wheel Works employee who once had full-time hours.

Rosie Gallego working at the front counter at New Frontier Market.

Unlike Sushi Domo and Wheel Works, New Frontier Market at Van Buren Street and West Eighth Avenue has not lost a step in business, according to Paul Sexton, an employee.

He said the market has gotten busier since he first started two years ago.

“A lot of the customers are those who live in the neighborhood,” he said.

Most customers just only buy a couple items at a time, while some do most of their grocery shopping at the market, Sexton said.

As the government works to recover the economy, businesses still do what they can.

The Eugene Weekly recently named Sushi Domo as having the best sushi in Eugene.   “Little stuff like that is how you keep your head above the water,” Gregory said.

Another way to help business is to provide discount coupons as New Frontier Market does.  For March, it is offering its customers coupons that take 10 percent off purchases of $25 or more and 20 percent off purchases of $75 or more.

Cole, meanwhile, has his eyes set on the future.  He said he believes gas will eventually rise to $6 or $7 per gallon.  That’s when he thinks his business will really take off.

“Scooters, mo-peds and electric bikes — I think it’s the way of the future,” he said.

About Sawley

Tortured but loyal fan of the Golden State Warriors, Oakland Raiders, Oakland A's, San Jose Sharks, Oregon Ducks and Chelsea FC. Life's easier with the R. Kelly Pandora station.
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