Morning Brief: Small Businesses Wary of Bailout


Chris Kelly, a 31-year employee, awaits customers at Champion Billiards & Barstools in Rockville, which is holding a going-out-of-business sale. (By Kevin Clark -- The Washington Post)

Small businesses are concerned that the government's announcement this week of what amounts to a bailout attempt for consumers and small-business owners like him may not get help.

"Didn't the government already give out a ton of bailout money? I haven't seen that trickle down, yet. The banks are still not releasing it," Michael Greenwald, the owner of M&M Appliance in Northwest Washington, told staff writer Dion Haynes. The new money would "be great," he added, but "I'll believe it when I see it."

Meanwhile, while many Washingtonians were sleeping off their turkey feasts overnight, thousands of others jammed parking lots and lined up on city streets Friday morning eager for the next round of holiday consumption: shopping.

Despite the economic downturn, or perhaps because the ongoing fiscal uncertainty has made bargain hunting more important than ever, crowds were waiting outside big box stores across the region for much of the night.

Washington's immigrant communities are getting hit with particular speed and force by the economic downturn reports staff writer N.C. Aizenman today.

Ethiopian cabdrivers suffering from a drop-off in customers have cut back drastically on lunches at the District's Ethiopian restaurants, which, in turn, are now grappling with how to survive.

Korean construction contractors and real estate investors reeling from the housing crisis are having trouble affording tuition at the area's hagwons -- the private, after-school academies to which Korean parents traditionally send their children. At least one has closed, and another, Best Academy, with branches in Springfield and Sterling as well as Ellicott City, has slashed its prices by almost 40 percent.

In the midst of a weak economy, some Washingtonians traded traditional plans for a simpler Thanksgiving -- perched atop a barstool, sitting in front of a beer and fries.

This Thanksgiving, bartender and server Chris Babor of the Argonaut Tavern in Northeast Washington asked his boss whether he could open the place up earlier, about 1 o'clock instead of the usual 8 p.m. holiday time.

And after a steep drop in its share price made it much less likely that executives could ever parlay recent stock option awards into profits, United Therapeutics of Silver Spring changed the terms of the options.

By Alejandro Lazo  |  November 28, 2008; 9:37 AM ET  | Category:  Biotech , Economy , Economy Watch , Morning Brief , Retail , Small Business
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