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Fossil Dad: Business on the Frontlines of the New Reality

he plague changed our economy. The “old” days may never return. Here is a sample of what’s going on in business. Will retailing be the same? Will real estate suffer in the coming months? Will we see the end of movie theaters, at least, so many of them? Are our habits changed forever?
Taso Lagos is program director for Hellenic studies in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. Photo credit: Patrick Luhrs.

Mill Creek resident Taso Lagos blogs as a middle-aged new parent. The following fictional letter is satire based on real events.

The plague changed our economy. The “old” days may never return. A sample of what’s going on in business: 

Amazon.  Everyday feels like an invasion of Amazon delivery vehicles. Online shopping has gone through the roof and continues to grow. Yet, the quality of delivery seems spotty. I’ve seen Amazon drivers do illegal U-turns, come to an apartment complex twice because they are lost, zip out of driveways in front of me with poor driving skills, and recently a late-model Mercedes stop at my neighbor’s with Rap music blasting out of it.  Bezonomics?  If this is the best Amazon can do, time to unload the stock.

Costco. Their immediate response to the virus impressed. Lines shorter these days than before, but not the same experience. I miss my “priest” Paul at the check-stand, dispensing regular Biblical wisdom. Now I arrive an hour early to get in line before it opens and in 15 minutes I’m done – in and out the door. Kudos for making senior hour before stores open permanent. 

Starbucks. Love them or hate them, but they flourished (somewhat) during the crisis, keeping it caffeinated with all their drive-thrus. Yet, if you go to Buffalo’s on 35th and Seattle Hill, first responders get a free latte. Which would you choose?

Sprouts. My go to health store now for veggies and cereal for my daughter. Cheaper than Albertson’s, which is nearer my house. Then this:

Overheard at Sprouts between customer complaining about an out of stock item to a clerk:

Clerk: “We’re on rations. We only get a limited supply of what we order.”

Customer: “What’s next?  Long lines like Venezuela?!”

Clerk: “We’re doing the best we can!”

Boeing. Saddest story of them all. A once proud company now on its knees. Ten thousand jobs cut in the Puget Sound area. Air travel may not return to normal for some months (a few say years!). What do Boeing’s problems mean for real estate in the area?

Delta. I stick with them because one of my frequently used credit cards is tied into Delta’s frequent flyer program. A few years ago, on a flight from Amsterdam to Seattle, a passenger asked the flight purser for crackers for his hungry toddler, but she refused. Another time, we were stuck on the tarmac for five hours at SeaTac waiting to leave and after the long wait, the purser announced over the intercom that we all get free beverages. Really?! That’s all we got for five hours of strapped to our chairs looking out at all the planes coming and going? Yet, during the plague, they refunded me and my family’s tickets (with some prompting from the credit card company!). 

Angel’s Haircuts. Jenny is a great haircutter and she did not raise her price because of Covid-19. Other cutters have dramatically increased their prices. Capitalism? Yes, stupid, but is it ethical? You tell me.

Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. No longer just favorites of angel investors anymore. I’ve yet to taste meatless meat, but I will soon and can let you know. I think Beyond Meat is an intriguing stock. My stockbroker thinks that it’s an “emotional” stock, like Zoom, meaning, people buy it right now on sentiment because of the virus. Impossible Foods not yet listed as a stock. 

Will retailing be the same? Will real estate suffer in the coming months? Will we see the end of movie theaters, at least, so many of them? Are our habits changed forever? Can we still be human with social distancing? 

Businesses work to figure out the answers right now. For now, just sit back, hang tight and keep your powder dry. 

(Journalistic integrity: I own shares of Amazon, Costco, Boeing, and Starbucks.)

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