Economic Cutbacks Hit Oklahoma Businesses

Monday, December 8th 2008, 7:05 pm
By: News 9

By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Businesses in the metro are finding it tough to keep customers while the economy tries to rebound.

People are cutting back on some of the luxuries they've enjoyed in years past and businesses are looking for ways to lure those customers back inside.

People are starting to watch their spending and its hurting merchants.

Salon Endeavor in southwest Oklahoma City is open for business, but it's tough to get customers through the doors.

"This time of year gets crazy busy, but unfortunately we haven't seen that so far this year," Amber Johnson with Salon Endeavor said.

The salon started up seven weeks ago, while the economy was already in a free fall.

"I've had several phone calls saying that they can't afford the prices right now, they can't afford to get their hair done, actually asking me what they can do to do their own hair at home which I don't recommend, of course," Johnson said.

Signature coffee at Wholly Grounds is something customer Terri Wint can't resist.

"Well, one, it's fresh roasted coffee, and two, it doesn't cost me any more than buying it at the grocery store," Wint said.

The store has been around for five years and right now business is up and down.

"Some regulars aren't coming in, but at the same time, we're getting new people," Cogan Higgins with Wholly Grounds Coffee said.

And they're adding something new to the menu to keep those customers.

"We're starting to do some music on Friday nights," Higgins said. "We're doing a thing where you can put money on an account and come in and swipe a card and get coffee."

Experts say economic uncertainty is forcing families to budget every penny.

"People start to realize that when their budgets are affected then they need to look at their expense side and that's what's going on right now," Steve Agee with the Oklahoma City University Meinders School of Business said.

No one can predict when things will turn around, but Agee says offering incentives like those at the coffee shop do help.

As for the new hair salon, they're offering an array of customer discounts.

"I think once they see that it's going to be okay they'll actually come back in," Johnson said. "Everyone needs a haircut, right?"

Agee said it could be a couple of years before things turn around.

NEWS 9's economist said Oklahoma was recession proof until recently - when oil and natural gas prices dropped, forcing layoffs in those industries.