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Bostonians feel ups, downs of economy

  • Story Highlights
  • Hardware store owner in Boston slams "negative story after negative story"
  • Worker laid off twice in two months says he's trying to stay positive
  • Layoff also brings on feelings of rejection, worker says
  • Gallery owner says business is down but not "devastating"
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By Bob Crowley
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Editor's note: CNN has asked its journalists across the country to offer their thoughts on how the economic crisis is affecting their cities. In this installment, Bob Crowley reports from Boston, Massachusetts.

Gallery owner Sue Stein says she is adjusting to the economic slowdown.

Hardware store owner Brendan Kenney says "people who have money should go out and spend it."

BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Brendan Kenney has seen enough bad news about the economy.

"I'm also getting tired of being worried," he says.

His family has been running a small hardware store in Brookline, Massachusetts, just outside Boston, for about 56 years. He says business has slowed down a little, but mostly because winter is normally the slow time of year for them.

Though he hopes the stimulus plan will help his and other small businesses, he believes people shouldn't be afraid.

"I think the American consumer holds a lot of power," he continues. "I think people who have money should go out and spend it."

Like many in the Boston area, Kenney doesn't want to hear more discouraging stories and sees that as part of the problem.

"It's just negative story after negative story, kind of creating a crisis of confidence." Video Watch Boston-area reaction to the economic slump »

South of Boston, Jose Nieto, from Plainville, has his own reasons to be discouraged. Between September and October of last year, he was laid off twice.

Nieto, a civil engineer who works on road construction projects, had felt fortunate. After losing his job of 14 years, he was able to find employment after only being out of work for two weeks.

After being on the new job for three weeks, however, he got called into the boss's office.

"I said, 'Oh, no. My God, not again.'" He was faced with looking for work in an industry that traditionally slows down in the winter months.

"It's more than losing your job. It gives you a feeling of rejection," he says. Yet, Nieto feels this is a time to learn valuable lessons, especially for those who need to dip into their savings when unemployment checks don't cover all of the bills.

"I think a lot of people will learn from this situation, and, going forward, they'll try to save more money."

He has been trying to stay healthy, busy and positive. Passing the time working on projects in his basement workshop and taking yoga classes has helped him get through the rough spots, and his luck is turning. He was offered a job that starts in March.

"It is a relief, because I'm employed," he says, "however, I'm taking a job for much less money."

Nieto believes that most employers cannot afford to hire at the salaries they could offer in the past.

Like Kenney's hardware store, Sue Stein's American craft gallery, also in Brookline, is not seeing any major shifts in her business, yet.

"Our business has been certainly down, but not devastating," she says.

Fire Opal, her gallery, sells everything from earrings to pottery to scarves, all made by artists from around the country.

To keep her business healthy, she says, she is trying to make adjustments like buying less merchandise. But she is changing her approach to her customers as well.

She says she tries to keep "understanding that people are having a hard time and trying to find things that are more in their price range."


Like Kenney and Nieto, Stein is also trying to stay optimistic.

"I think if we all are very careful," she says, "we'll sort of ride it out and then things will adjust."

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