Morning Brief: Price At The Pump A Bright Spot

There is some bright business news these days.

The recent plunge in gas prices from their historic highs this summer has meant relief for small business owners and drivers.

Stacie Banks and her family use their van and two Honda Elements to deliver arrangements of orchids, chrysanthemums, carnations and Gerber daisies throughout the Washington area from Lee's Flower and Card Shop on U Street in Northwest D.C.

"It is helping us out a lot, needless to say," Banks said. "We use a lot of gas around here."

But for many, the good news is overshadowed by ever-deteriorating home values, job losses, spending cuts, the credit crisis, bank failures, foreclosures and so on, economists said.

Now back to the bad news: Fueled by rising unemployment and food prices, the number of Americans on food stamps is poised to exceed 30 million for the first time this month, surpassing the historic high set in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina.

At the Department of Human Services on H Street NE on Tuesday, the benefits office was busy. D.C. resident Harry Washington, 54, had come to apply for food stamps after losing his job at a Dupont Circle restaurant that closed for renovations last month.

Over the past three years, he has received food stamps several times to tide him over between jobs.

"This all has been going on awhile. It just depends where you are on the totem pole whether or not you have felt it," Washington told staff writer Jane Black.

Over at FedEx Field, there was a wait of another kind on Tuesday. A line snaked around FedEx Field as thousands of people waited -- some for as many as five hours -- to receive a free turkey, the trimmings and a bag of toys from about 30 Washington Redskins players lined up inside the main level concourse of the stadium.

"We're going deep into a recession," said Tomika Carter, 35, of Suitland, who recently got a second job to bring in extra money. "Things are kind of tight."

The event, known as Harvest Feast, has been held for the past six years, and yesterday's crowd was said to be one of the largest.

And finally, Richmond-based furniture firm RoomStore and another investor have agreed to buy the bulk of Mattress Discounters for about $4.5 million, dramatically less than its $80 million price tag in a deal that fell apart last year.

By Alejandro Lazo  |  November 26, 2008; 8:14 AM ET  | Category:  Economy , Economy Watch , Morning Brief , Small Business
Previous: Morning Brief: Lay-Offs Hit Washington Families | Next: Morning Brief: Small Businesses Wary of Bailout

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