Life has changed significantly for many people in small businesses on the Central Oregon Coast. In the last several months we in Newport have watched 2 car lots evaporate, one fine arts/office supply shop let go, a rather large and popular craft supply/home decor business sell out and close its doors, the only true sporting goods store in town black out its windows, and the list does go on. I’m talking about businesses that have been around awhile, businesses that have survived the coming of a Walmart and other calamities over a long span of years.
The Oregon coast has been, for many years, a retirement “community” which translates (economically) to low wage service oriented jobs and marginal to failing industries like fishing and forest related work. Some striving folks seem to feel that true engagement (social, political) requires a constant questioning (perhaps in defense of their time-honored jobs and very way of life) the ideas and efforts of many well-meaning people who are engaged in the serious and crucial work of saving the ecosystems of the pacific shore, forests, and near ocean which includes the fisheries on which we all depend, but seem, however, not to be so engaged in the culture of their adopted surroundings. All are caught between the proverbial “rock and a hard place.”
It is in this financial and cultural environment (aka “perfect storm” or catastrophe) that I find myself looking out the windows of my dear little stained glass shop. I look across the street and wonder if (hoping for the best) those guys are doing okay. My business neighbors, on this side of the Hwy 101, all share similar concerns for each other.
I opened Jones Creek Glassworks in May of 2007, before the rest of us knew what the financial experts had been warning. I have a very small overhead to keep the doors open; even so, I have given thought to closing. Ironically, it is the very economy that terrorizes us now that keeps me in business. What would I do if I closed my doors? Can’t collect unemployment, can’t find a job. So, I count myself lucky and grateful for all the wonderful customers and friends that support my little shop. I’m grateful to have work to do every day. I’m grateful that my work is to repair and make things that are beautiful.
While it is impossible for me, a native born Oregonian, to have the clear perspective of a person who has emigrated from a country where hope, luck and gratitude are luxuries for only a few, I do have a glimmer of an idea of what they must see so clearly. The bitter cup that we all drink from today, taking our share of the hardships of this world recession, is not the communion of a new existence. Our existence, the solid stuff we build our lives on in America, on the central Oregon Coast, is that good things will happen, anyone can be lucky, hope is as natural as breathing, and being grateful is how we know when to share what we have with the less fortunate. This is the existence that endures.
So, my holiday wish for you is that you be hope, expect good luck, and count your blessings! And I’ll be here in my shop doing the same.