Economists like to theorize about the business cycle — boom, bust, boom, and bust again. Debbie and Frank George are finding that rollercoaster all too real in downtown Alameda.
In the bright days of 1996 they bought a small shopping mall at 1419 Park St. and converted it into one big furniture store, . Now in the darkness of the recession, they are turning it back into a mall. Their own store will retreat to a space in the back, occupying about 3,000 of the building's 10,000 square feet.
But retiring to the back of the building was not an easy decision for the Georges, who first opened their pillow store on Park Street in 1972.
"It's the economy," said Debbie George. "We had to do something."
Doing something in this case involves offering much of their inventory, including handsome grandfather clocks and comfy armchairs, for half-off.
And that's not all, she said. "We had to lay off our own kids." The eldest, Monty, 35, may move out of state for work. Twenty-seven-year-old Jennifer is staying home with her family. And Aaron, 25, is making a transition to the food industry.
Debbie, president of the Park Street Business Association, was active in the restoration of the and Cineplex. She hopes a business that stays open during the night — perhaps a steakhouse or sports bar — will rent the storefront space in the Georges' mall, benefiting from the new evening activity the theater has stimulated.
And when the economy booms again, the Georges will be ready.