KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Apr 18 2011

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Economic recovery…the signs are everywhere

Is it me or has this been the longest and coldest winter in memory? And when you add the effects of a collapsed economy, out-of-control unemployment and rising oil prices, I am not sure why anyone would want to get out of bed in the morning to face a new day of doom.

This morning as the alarm went off, my first thought was: ”Damn…I’m still alive,” Then I heard it, a “chirping” from outside. I pulled back the blanket, just far enough for one eye to peer out, and there was the perpetrator of that delightful noise, hopping around in the morning sun on the small table outside my window. What did she know to be so happy and full of life? Hadn’t she been watching the news and listening to the experts opine that all was lost and the worst has yet to come? As I stood looking out at a most wonderous morning, I realized she wasn’t listening to anyone. She was watching and looking for the signs of winter’s end and the dawning of a new spring and a time for birth, rebirth and growth.

As a kitchen designer, my business has suffered greatly over the past couple of years. With the near-collapse of the global economy, we in the residential design community were hit the hardest—especially the architects, interior designers, contractors as well as kitchen designers and appliance suppliers. We quickly learned that “few people remodel during the apocalypse,” and the dark and endless night created by economic fallout just seemed to go on and on. Was there no hope, no rescue? The talking heads on TV just seemed to heap more doom upon doom.

Finally, I decided to take a page from my little bird friend and stop listening and start watching for signs of change, recovery and hope. And to my surprise, signs were all around, but I could not see them, being so tightly wrapped in my own shroud of doom. As I walked my son to school—for the first time in months without heavy coat, gloves and muffler—I noticed there were fewer homes for sale in the neighborhood and it seemed that every other car dropping kids off was brand new. The parents standing in small groups were talking about their travel plans for spring break or the remodel or add-on to their house that they had put off for so long…the signs were everywhere.

Like a man possessed, I was suddenly besieged by signs from all directions. Porsche had just sold out its entire production run of a $235,000 model, while at the same time announcing the launch of a $600,000 Spyder 918. An electric Swiss bike was flying out the door for $80,000 a pop and Steinway launched a new John Lennon Collection starting at a mere $90,000. It was clear to me the wealthy and the affluent, who had spent the last few years living quiet and reserved lives behind gated driveways in a state of economic hibernation, were about to awaken from a self-imposed slumber.

But the clock has run out and the time for waiting for the other shoe to drop has passed. The wealthy want and need to spend and believe it or not, this is a good thing. This simple act of self-indulgence is what’s needed to kickstart our lifeless economy and get the everyday “Joe” back in the game.

Consumer spending is the backbone of the American economy and if the rich are spending, it is the first step to economic recovery. And everyone benefits…everyone! During the Reagan Administration, it was called trickle-down economics. When luxury cars, private jets and high-end homes are all in demand, that means people are getting back to work. When you have a steady income and a secure job, the middle-class begins to spend. The economy hasn’t completely “righted” itself, but its coming and as I learned from my little bird friend…”watch the signs.”

Kevin Henry

This entry was posted on Monday, April 18th, 2011 at 6:00 AM and is filed under Inspiration. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1.  pderas |

    Nice try Kevin.

    While it may be true that the disgustingly wealthy are tired of sitting on their pots of money, the middle classes are still in a funk. They won’t get out of it until their good-paying jobs come back and their homes magically re-appreciate. Even if that should miraculously happen, I don’t think they’ll be making the same mistakes they did before. And even if they wanted to do so, I don’t think there will be any banks lending them $150K on their home equity to do it with.

    Our work used to encompass the top 15% of the American population. Now we are competing for 1% of the population with 50% of the money.

    I too love the birds and, like you, I have a lot more time to enjoy them these days