Some firms’ customer base may get slimmer during time of recession
PAY FOR SERVICE or DO IT YOURSELF
Dog owners are always relieved to see Eddie and Holly Anthony arrive at their door with a scoop and a shovel.
“Everybody is like, ‘Thank God, you’re here,’ because they don’t want to do it themselves,” Eddie Anthony said.
The thing they don’t want to do is the thing they pay the Anthonys $10 to do: Pick up dog feces in their yard.
The husband and wife duo behind the company Oopsie Poopsy started their business earlier this year when Eddie was laid off from a job making parts for the oil and gas industry and couldn’t find work.
He heard about pooper-scooper businesses popping up in Denver after a law requiring
homeowners to pick up dog waste within 72 hours passed there. They scraped together the money for a van splashed with their logo and bought some clean-up equipment. Now, they’re getting three to four calls a day.
“We hope to expand into Montrose and Glenwood by the end of the year,” Eddie Anthony said.
Business is steady for the Anthonys. They kept prices low, even though Eddie suspects they could have charged more in a different time.
But not all service providers have fared well in a turbulent economy.
Locally, unemployment has nearly doubled in the past year and home sales are down 50 percent. When wallets get thin, the customer base sometimes gets slimmer for businesses that provide services a person can do at home or on their own.
Marcos Orellana, owner of Busy Beaver Landscaping, isn’t as busy as his company name suggests. Last year, he had his pick of yards to landscape and maintain. Now, business is “very slow,” he said.
“We have work, but nothing like last year,” Orellana said. “Before, we could look people up and call them. Now, we can’t select the customers.”
Layoffs in the oil and gas industry led to diminished business at Grand Junction Truck & Car Wash, company Manager Sue Hollingshead said. The truck wash used to wash trucks all the time for energy outfits, but Hollingshead said car wash sales have been sliced in half “since Halliburton laid off its crews.”
The truck wash has added credit-card machines and an air shammy to entice customers, but Hollingshead isn’t sure it will work with everyone.
“If you can use a hose and a bucket, they’ll do it at home,” she said.
The gaps between wants and needs widens sometimes in a recession, as Stephen Landsberger has noticed.
His business, Environmental Air Duct Services, offers drier vent and air duct cleaning.
Landsberger said business is down 35 percent this year. Many people he’s talked to are too worried about the economy to spend money, he said.
“What I offer is cleaner air, which is something next in line to groceries and things like that,” he said.
Even laundry choices have changed. More people are doing it themselves instead of paying someone else to do it for them, according to Claudia Pacatco, an employee at Washboard Laundromat, which offers coin laundry and drop-off services.
“We’ve seen fewer people” drop off laundry, she said.
Still, there are bright spots and services people still are willing to pay for.
Haircuts may have to wait a week or two longer than usual, but most customers at La Belle Amie aren’t choosing to cut out hair care and spa services, manager Val Kennedy said.
Kennedy said people still want to feel good, especially with financial or other woes waiting for them at home or the office.
So they aren’t doing away with the spa. And they aren’t downgrading to cheaper facials or massages.
“They’re doing it to pamper themselves, so they aren’t choosing one or the other,” she said.
Business is also good at Doggie Playtime, a local pet care and dog-walking service that, like Oopsie Poopsy, offers dog cleanup services.
Owner Corye Donham said business has increased lately, and she even added a service:
She’ll take care of a “pet wedding attendant” before and after the ceremony.