Tag Archives: economy

A Time for New Beginnings

new beginnings

New Beginnings Resale Shop

In a time when many people are facing economic uncertainty and others are becoming more concerned about our impact on the environment, community-minded entrepreneurs are looking for ways to make a living and make a difference. For Janice Bergeron, owner of New Beginnings Resale Boutique in Limington, starting her own business also became a time of incredible personal growth.

Bergeron opened the shop in the Limington Meadows building on Route 25 in October of 2011 following a painful divorce. “The locals call the building the chicken barn,” she said, opening the door to the space where neat rows of clothing hang in well-organized sections. “People come in and say they are surprised at how clean it is. Local people say they depend on New Beginnings, that they buy all their clothes here.”

Bergeron, who grew up in Whitman, Massachusetts and moved to Maine a year after her marriage, was an at-home mom of seven for 27 years. Over the years, she often lamented the bags of clothing she discarded as the kids outgrew items, thinking how she would love to open a shop. After her divorce, she needed income to support herself, and the old dream of a consignment store became a reality.

“With the divorce, I was shaken. I didn’t have any skills. I wasn’t sure how I was going to survive.” At the time, Janice’s sister, Kathy Bergeron, was managing the Limington Meadows building–a space belonging to the late Charles and Cynthia Libby who were well-known antique dealers before their passing in 2006 and 2011 respectively. Kathy asked Janice, “If you could do anything, what would it be?” When Janice said she always wanted to run a consignment shop, Kathy suggested she take her tax return that year and open up the store. That was the beginning of New Beginnings, and the beginning of a new life for Janice.

“It’s given me confidence. It’s given my daughter confidence,” she said.

Janice stocked the shop from various sources. “A consignment shop went out of business, so I bought racks and inventory. I’d go yard-saling. I got two car-loads from a person who was simply looking to get rid of a bunch of clothes.”

As fate would have it, space at Limington Meadows became available at just the right time. “It was a huge leap of faith,” Janice said, and having sister Kathy next door has been helpful. “She’s been the key in teaching me the ropes.” The Limington Meadows shops include antiques, a bakery, a housewares shop, and a jewelry business as well as the consignment shop.

The biggest surprise for Janice has been the response of her customers. “I’ve been in consignment shops before and it’s not personal, like they expect people to just come and go.” But at New Beginnings, customers come in regularly, and there is a connection Janice didn’t expect. “I wasn’t expecting the positive reception from the local people. People are very excited by the option here.”

The boutique stocks children’s and women’s clothing, accessories, wedding and formal gowns, plus sizes, shoes, and jewelry. Janice’s daughter, Shania, works in the shop, as well. “She recently sold her first wedding gown,” Bergeron said proudly, acknowledging that the venture has given her teen confidence, too.

New Beginnings Resale Boutique is open Friday and Saturday from 9-4 and Sundays 1-4.

Sequester Savings #1: A Running Tally of How the Sequester is Affecting My Spending

dumpster diving photos 001

So, the sequester has the talking heads buzzing about how much, if any, effect the sequester budget cuts are going will have on the economy.

As a family whose income is going to be reduced 20% for five months starting sometime in April, we are already working on our family budget and figuring out how to “not spend” that amount–because we don’t think we should have to sacrifice the savings we already have (or even the savings we were planning on putting by) to the cowardice of our legislative and executive branches of our federal government. Cowardice, yes, because the brave move would have been to tell the people of this fine country, honestly, that we are in a mess and we need to cut spending and we need to raise taxes, both. Instead, they chose to “let the sequester happen” and take zero responsibility for their failure to govern or lead.

So, they won’t get a penny of my savings account. We will instead withdraw that money from the economy.

My plan is to post regular Sequester Savings entries. I won’t be able to keep an exact tally. How to account for “what I didn’t spend” as opposed to “what I did spend?” You don’t get receipts for NOT spending. Unless you create one. Like today.

Daughter: Can you go to Waterways (a local coffee shop)and get us some lattes?
Me: We can make coffee at home. We are saving money.

Total savings: $7.50 directly OUT OF THE LOCAL ECONOMY.

I’m also in the middle of baking a loaf of homemade bread. My usual loaf of 12-grain bread costs about $4. A quick search on the internet shows a loaf of white bread homemade costs between 36-45 cents a loaf. Huh.

It will be interesting to compare grocery totals for months pre-sequester to months post-sequester. I’m counting March as post-sequester since we are starting the economizing now.

This is list of things I’m cutting out:

$ coffees and lattes anywhere but home
$ breakfast out once a week at local restaurant
$ books–kindle, Amazon, bookstores
$ pizzas from pizza shops (making my own instead ALL the time)
$ lunches and dinners out–take turns making lunches at home, peeps?
$ clothes for me for the next five months; I’ll make do with what I
have
$ theater, movies, or a concert unless it is free
$ entertaining at home, i.e. parties–unless it is potluck it isn’t happening!
$ jewelry, makeup, shoes–almost goes without saying, right?
$ extra trips that burn gasoline

You may wonder if I plan on having any fun at all. Sure. Libraries have books last I checked, so I don’t need to buy them. Coffee at home is fine. My homemade pizza and bread–yum and fun to make. A game of cards of mah-jong with friends down the road is fine entertainment. Scrabble anyone? How about a walk, bike ride, swim?

On the other hand, I’ll miss eating out, I really will.

But the main point is this, Federal Government: I’m not bailing you out with my savings. I hope the economy feels the pinch. I hope, finally, you duly-elected officials start doing your jobs, work together, and figure out how to balance this budget, starting with entitlement reform and ending with closing the most egregious tax loopholes.

Oh, and raise the minimum wage while you are at it. Have you seen the stats on wealth inequity lately?

Federal Government Employment Really Bigger Under Obama?

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Graph From Political Loudmouth on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Political-Loudmouth/281168802721

I just saw a graph on Facebook that supposedly shows that the Obama government actually employed fewer people than the last three Republican governments.

Can this be true, or is it some sort of skewing of facts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics? If it is true, why don’t we know this?

Are our society, politics, and government so large now we citizens cannot get a grasp on what is really happening? This is unhealthy in a democracy or any kind of government.

Time to re-localize ourselves–local government, local education, local economy, local community–all within our immediate grasp, not too convoluted to analyze, transparent…

Election Day–Does It Really Matter Who Wins?

U.S.A. Election Day

Ralph Lauren vneck sweater / J.Crew twill jacket / Levi’s Made & Crafted mid rise jeans / Converse shoes, $14 / Tommy Hilfiger bag / Tommy Hilfiger Sid Cable Knit Multicolor Scarf, $98 / Tommy Hilfiger perfume, $52

I am voting today–and I’m going to check a box for President–but I’m really only going because of the state and local races and questions, where I (perhaps naively) believe my vote actually makes a difference in my life and my community. When it comes to the Presidential race, eh, shrug, not so much.

Either Obama is going to win and we’ll continue with this gridlock as the Republicans block everything for the sake of politics…or Romney is going to win and we’ll start hearing, “I inherited this mess…so don’t blame me” as the Dems begin to block everything for the sake of politics. And they’ll all start talking about 2016.

Meanwhile the Federal Reserve and corporate cronies will go ahead and do their own thing, laughing (at us) all the way to the bank.

Read what economists think about the affect of the election on the economy on CNN.com

Day 35: The Tea Party Solution?

Liberty Tree

At the Museum of American History, a representation of the Liberty Tree, a gathering spot for the Sons of Liberty in Boston (the original Tea Party) where they tarred and feathered tax collectors, hung tax collectors in effigy, and held protests and demonstrations against the ruling British government.

Dear Reader:

Here’s some good news. A couple savvy freshman “Tea Party” Republicans have a solution to the debt crisis they have unleashed on our stymied country. Prayer.

From this morning’s WASHINGTON POST: “Outside the House chamber, Boehner summoned members of the holdout GOP South Carolina delegation to his second-floor office just off the Capitol Rotunda. But he appeared to make little headway and, within minutes, freshman Reps. Mick Mulvaney and Jeff Duncan left the meeting, saying they were heading to a nearby chapel to pray for their leaders.”

Boy, I feel better, don’t you?

Outside the History Museum

The ‘Rents and I spent the better part of yesterday at the Museum of American History where we saw a demonstration of how people washed their clothes prior to the invention of washing machines, participated in an interactive, theatrical performance about the abolitionist martyr, John Brown, and browsed the Revolutionary and Civil War exhibits.

"John Brown"

John Brown was an abolitionist so convinced of the immorality of slavery that he resorted to violence and extremism, planning a raid on the Harper’s Ferry, Virginia arsenal in order to arm a slave uprising. Such an uprising would have led to the death of both slave and slaveholder. Slavery was a heinous institution in a country which supposedly valued personal freedom above all things. John Brown was, of course, morally right. He was courageous, taking bold action while others went about the business of trying to end slavery using less violent means. But what about his methods? Is violence justified? Do we believe throwing society into chaos is the one and only way to make things better?

The uprising failed, John Brown was captured, and then he was hung, a martyr of the abolitionist cause. The South refused to yield to Northern pressure, and in the end, massive and tragic violence ensued in the struggle to abolish slavery once and for all in the United States of America. The Civil War claimed 620,000 American lives. The South was ravaged. Resources were wasted. If we had it to do all over again, would we not try to find a peaceful way to bring about the end of slavery? Better yet, wouldn’t we sit down with our Founding Fathers and insist on freedom for ALL right from the very beginning?

Washboard In Tub

The temperature is rising back into the 100’s today in D.C., and I imagine tempers are heating up to dangerous levels on Capitol Hill as some lawmakers seem unwilling to put aside extreme positions in order to prevent possible financial chaos in a country already struggling with unemployment, rising prices, and uncertainty about the future. If we aren’t careful, those Depression Era washboards and tubs might be our future.

Our founding fathers built this country on compromise. In fact, when the Constitutional Convention came together in Philadelphia in 1787, a conflict between large and small states almost derailed the entire process. The “Great Compromise” was adopted, saving the Constitution.

So why is compromise suddenly a dirty word?

Don’t all sides have a point here? If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, if we don’t get our debt under control, and if we don’t begin the difficult process of moving over to a sustainable way of life, we might have nothing left to do but pray.