Getting a round tuit

John McDonaghPicture a freight train getting derailed and tipping over with a load of freezers and refrigerators. Sounds like a colossal accident, right? Well, to Ken Ohman, this was the sort of thing that spelled opportunity.

Ohman ran one of the first wholesale pricing direct retail establishments in the county. At pennies on the dollar, he would buy merchandise and use the dents and scrapes as selling points that supported the discounted price, rather than looking at it like problem.

Given that Ohman’s Warehouse wasn’t a first-line merchandise retailer and didn’t have the advertising support of the manufacturers, he developed a variety of events and gimmicks
to get the attention of local buyers. One of those events was his annual Round Tuit Sale. This sale was based on the fact that many folks seemed to put off the purchase of furniture and appliances, lamenting that they would buy “once they got around to it.”

That’s all Ken Ohman needed. He found a supplier of round tuit tokens, and in one order eliminated the “once I get around to it” objection. He seemed to always have a pocket full of them regardless of whether it was his annual push on that theme or not.

As I consider the economic recovery and the amount of cash reported to be stockpiled in businesses and investor accounts, I am reminded of Ohman’s round tuit. And I can’t help but wonder if that’s exactly what we need right now. Rather than saying, “once the election is over,” or “once the market hits 12,750,” or “once they decide on the CRC funding plan,” maybe we simply need a round tuit in order to break the logjam.

Nearly three years ago I wrote:

If just a few of these folks who are waiting would “just do it,” to borrow a phrase from Nike, their collective decision could conceivably create the floor everyone is looking for and kick start the local recovery. (To read that column, go here.)

For our local economy, I do believe it is that simple. Those who have the resources to expand or invest, if they took action now, would create the opportunities necessary to assure the recovery continues and doesn’t stall out. Continuing to say “we’ll get
round to it once…” will continue to get us what we’ve had these
last three years.

Having the confidence to move ahead is much more an internal imperative rather than a view of the external environment, especially coming out of a recession. To a certain extent, companies who are doing well and have been for some time, found their round tuit and made a decision to move forward. Now it’s time for others to follow. Real estate prices in some sectors have
already stabilized, and those still declining will likely find stasis soon. Local retail fared well during the holidays, professional services firms are busy again and developers are dusting off projects and moving forward.

This is the new normal; the recovery is underway. Waiting longer to enter the recovery with
investment and expansion is nothing more than looking for a round tuit.

So, here it is. Now let’s get on with the recovery.

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