My family and I took a drive down U.S. 27 in southern Kentucky and north Tennessee yesterday.
We've driven the road before, but not for several of years. If what we saw was any indication, the down economy continues to take a toll on small businesses in small towns.
Empty storefronts, some with broken glass, dotted the main drags in the towns we passed through. There have always been some vacancies, but number seemed to have grown significantly since our last time through. Plenty of stand-alone restaurants were also shuttered, along with a bunch of sites formerly occupied by auto service businesses.
We stopped in one of the towns to stretch our legs by browsing at a local merchant. When I suggested times must be hard because I'd noticed the local Krystal had closed, the proprietor responded the town's only Burger King had closed too. But she said the town still had its McDonalds. And it always seems to be busy.
There's still enough business to keep some businesses open. Just not as many as there used to be.
When you hear or see someone touting economic recovery, take a look at storefronts along your local streets and shopping centers. I suspect what you can see with your own eyes gives a better read of what's going on in this economy than some government report generated out of Washington DC.
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