Al’s column

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GETTING BETTER?: No one is declaring the recession over nor is anyone celebrating our return to prosperity, but there might be cause to raise an eyebrow. The U.S. Census Bureau reported retail sales totaled $355.8 billion in January, an increase of .5% from December, “indicating that the industry is slowly emerging from the economic troubles of last year.” An optimistic outlook that the Bureau supports with facts and figures it amassed. It said January sales represented a pickup of 4.7% over January of 2009 and the improvement was acknowledged by The National Retail Federation’s chief economist, Rosalind Wells. “We continue to see the economy show subtle signs of improvement. While the recovery still has a long way to go, we remain encouraged by the latest retail sales figures.” Why not?

DIFFERENT STROKES: Everyone copes with challenges in a unique way. In Texas, two leading flooring retailers decided to become recession-proof and accomplished it an inimitable fashion. Two of the state’s most prominent flooring retailers have merged. Scott Steel, owner of three My Flooring America stores in the Houston region, and Kelby Frederick, owner of two Flooring America units in the Dallas area, joined their family-owned-and-operated stores. All five units bear the name My Flooring America. The two families have a combined 61 years of retail service in the Texas region. Not only do they benefit from the economy of scale, but together they plan to open a sixth store by the end of February.

THEY CARE: The Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) has received a 2009 Business Achievement Award from the Environmental Business Journal in recogni- tion of diverting post-consumer carpet from America’s landfills. CARE won a Project Merit award in the category of Sustainability and Resource Protection. Georgina Sikorski, CARE’s executive director, said her organization was cited because of its work in “finding market-based solutions for the recycling and reuse of post-consumer carpet, [and] for diverting over 1.3 billion pounds of carpet from the landfills since 2002.” The award further notes that in 2008, carpet recycling reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 1.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and employed more than 1,100 people. Well done.

NAGLE KNOWS: Like most active people in the flooring industry, I have been receiving Nagle’s News monthly for years—maybe decades. The ubiquitous Nagle seems to have been here forever and he’s tapped into everything. I enjoy his observations, personal and cogent; information, often first-hand and processed, and the knowledge that is the mosaic of the newsletter. In his February edition, Nagle presented his usual list of Neutral Observations and I would like to add my observations to his. “1. In 2008, 14,700 lawyers and legal staff jobs have been lost.” I feel sorry for the 14,700, but in this most liti- gious country on the planet, 14 thousand lawyers wouldn’t be missed. “2. 50,746 students took the Law School Admission Test in October 2009, a record.” Shouldn’t the 50,746 have called Nagle before taking the test?

MORE NAGLE: “3. It cost twice as much to live in New York City than in the average U.S. urban area. The least expensive is in Pryor Creek, Okla.” I spoke to George Steinbrenner and he is prepared to start the season as the Pryor Creek Yankees. One positive: if they have a bad season, they are already up the creek. “4. China has more assets in the U.S. than the U.S. has in China.” So what? China has more assets in the U.S. than we have in the U.S. That’s all the space there is. Love that Nagle’s News.

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