No end in sight

We’ve just returned from four days in North Carolina and I can report that the recession has the Northeast in its grip. The only thing that was unchanged, year over year, was the weather. While Toronto suffered in a gloomy 18C, the Outer Banks were a sunny, sultry 33C.

In historic Beaufort, North Carolina, the twelfth town settled in the United States, half of the white clapboard homes on the prime eight-block stretch of Front Street facing the water are for sale. A shop owner told us that a recession always arrives there a year earlier than everywhere else and lasts a year longer. He pegged the beginning of this downturn as occurring a year ago with no end in sight.

Restaurants that have not changed menus and moved to bistro prices are struggling to even be half full. The only places doing well are the likes of Wilber’s, home of the best barbecue in the state. The establishment, opened in 1962, is still going strong in two locations in Goldsboro. Of course, two can eat bellyful combo plates of chicken, pulled pork, potato salad and cole slaw accompanied by constant refills of sweet iced tea for under $20.

You could shoot a cannon from Fort Macon through Nordstrom outside Raleigh. Toronto’s Pearson Airport was all but empty coming and going. Hang on to your hats, it’s going to be a long and bumpy ride.

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