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Flat is the new up
Flat is the new up
Luan Schooler
Co-owner, Foster & Dobbs
Portland, Ore.

Schooler knew that she wouldn't hit her target of making her specialty foods shop profitable before 2009. The question was, how far behind would she be, and would she be able to hold on until the economy turned?

During the holiday season, we had the triple-whammy of the economy, huge snowstorms and scaffolding for our building that made us appear closed. The holidays were certainly less than what we had hoped for. All through November and December, people were anxious. In fact, I think consumers were grateful for the storms because it gave them an excuse to not go shopping.

While it was hard on the business, having the season be down, in a funny way it made people more relieved and more relaxed about spending in the new year because there was a sense of relief that we had made it through the holidays. We were dreading January and February, but the weather cleared up and the scaffolding came down and we were actually up a little from last year. It was not what we'd expected at all. And now, well, if flat is the new growth, then hurray - we're growing!

We're not yet profitable. We might not turn that corner this year because of the economy, but we won't lose ground. If we can hold ground through this, that'll be excellent.

We're still being pretty tight. Everything has to earn its spot on the shelf. And the employees are happy with as many hours as we can give and are understanding when we can't give more. I feel we're in as good a place as we can be. We're looking forward to nice weather bringing more people out - I'm already seeing it.

NEXT: Reevaluating the business

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