The Corvallis area is suffering from its highest jobless rate in 33 years. In the midst of all this woe, the last time I visited the Corvallis Winter Farmer’s Market, it was so packed with happy customers with their wallets out that I could hardly squeeze in.
This always happens. A recession means that more people are having financial trouble than usual. It doesn’t meant that everyone is having trouble. It doesn’t even mean that the people having trouble have stopped buying fresh food. Even as people tighten their belts in some areas (for example, eating out), they loosen them in others (say, home cooking).
The mass media gives a dumbed-down, homogenized, crisis-rich view of the world that is completely useless in decision-making. The idea of newspapers has always been that, by reading along, you feel engaged — without actually doing anything. As entertainment that’s fine, but otherwise it doesn’t accomplish much.
Last year Karen and I talked it over and decided to expand our book offerings, partly to recession-proof our lives and partly because we are constantly amazed at how few of the best books are still in print. It doesn’t seem right. So we started putting more of them into print. We had been holding steady at four books for years, but we expanded to twelve in a few months (that’s what I did with my Christmas vacation).
It turned out to be a good idea, since we’ve broken book-sales records every month for the last four months, and have been getting positive feedback besides.
Admittedly, our publishing business is not so huge that setting a new sales record is going to have us lighting cigars with thousand-dollar-bills, or even with matches. But what I’ve seen in our little publishing business and the Farmer’s Market renews my faith in the concepts that (a) watching the news basically serves as anti-Prozac, and should only be done by folks who are way too happy, and (b) even in bad times, there are opportunities — especially small ones — everywhere.