Riding out the storm. Weathering the storm. Just trying to hang on till the storm passes.




These are ways people are describing the state of business in Ashland during the current economic downturn. The owners of most Ashland businesses that don't rely heavily on tourism were surprised by how the housing crash hurt their bottom dollars. But rising fuel costs, inflation and poor stock performance factor in, as well.




"A lot of my customers are in the real estate business," said Lue Ann David, owner of Flower Thyme. "They're not sending flowers at closings like they used to. The landscapers and construction workers aren't popping in for bouquets."




She said her florist shop, which has been in business for 26 years, is seeing a real slowdown from the casual flower buyers.




"I really do feel like the real estate slowdown is having a trickle-down effect," said David. "People don't realize how closely connected Ashland businesses are with the home buying, selling, building and remodeling businesses."




Michelle Alexander, a bartender at O'Ryan's Irish Pub, sees first hand how the real estate slowdown affects business.




"I get a lot of people who walk in here and put three dollars on the bar and say that's all they have to spend today," she said.




Alexander looked at all the empty stools at the bar and said, "This time last year, we were packed with construction workers. There's hardly anyone coming in right now."




Eric Green, a third-generation home builder, said this is the worst he's ever seen in Ashland.




"There's nothing, and I mean nothing, going on right now," he said.




Ken Silverman, who has owned or managed Nimbus for the past 30 years, agrees that he's never seen skyrocketing fuel costs, a tanking housing industry and sluggish stocks all occurring at the same time.




Nimbus, which offers a wide variety of items such as men's and women's clothing, shoes, artwork, tuxedo rentals and a separate business called hisfavoriteshirt.com has only seen a slight decline during the current economic challenge.




"Retail is not for the faint of heart," Silverman said. "It's a gamble even in the best of times."




He attributes the longevity of his business to the variety of the store's offerings.




"That's been our business model forever," Silverman said. "Some months one item will take off and another slows down. My business is always changing, it's never static."




Silverman said the only adjustment he can make during slowdowns is to adjust the number of staff, something he wants to hold off on for now, until he sees how long the storm is going to last.




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