Sign of the times: Even cheaper store kills off cheap store

Wed Jan 14, 2009 12:01pm EST
 
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(Reuters) - The global recession manifests itself in big and small ways, most gloomy, some quirky and often reflecting the inventive human spirit. Here is a look at some signs of the times.

* In a southern England town families hit by the financial crisis put a pound store out of business by flocking to a 99 pence shop that opened across the road. The Pound World in Poole saw its earnings plummet by 70 percent and was forced to close within weeks of 99p Stores launching on the other side of the High Street. "It's funny to think a shop can close down because of a penny difference, I suppose it's a sign of the times," customer David Fitzpatrick told The Star newspaper.

* The Delancey bar and nightclub in New York City's Manhattan has designated a special night out: "Laid off Mondays." It offers two-for-one drinks all night and a free shot of tequila at midnight "for everyone with proof of unemployment."

* A Catholic priest in Nashville, Tennessee, couldn't wait for the U.S. government's promised stimulus plan to help his struggling parishioners, so he started his own. Rev. Joseph Breen of St. Edward church handed out more than $100,000 from reserve funds and donations he had received for benevolent purposes. He gave the money to families of children attending the local school, at $250 per child. "I told them it's their money -- use it as they like," Breen told Reuters.

* Hyundai Motor Co, whose U.S. sales plunged in December, is offering a new incentive to potential buyers -- allowing them to return the vehicle if they lose their job within a year of purchase. "Shoppers are simply not prepared to make a purchase decision if they're concerned about their job prospects or their ability to make payments," David Zuchowski, Hyundai's vice president of U.S. sales, told Reuters.

* Looking to strike gold amid the financial crisis? A Chilean businessman is offering an option on a copper and gold deposit in the South American country's northern Atacama region at a bargain price. Chile is the world's No.1 copper producer, and prices have plunged around 65 percent since hitting a high in July. Alvaro Urzua offered to sell the option for $500,000, down from its pre-crisis price tag of $3 million.

* After some cash-strapped people canceled places on a Caribbean cruise, P&O filled the empty seats on the ship Ventura with last-minute bargain hunters. A "them and us" mentality quickly emerged, The Times of London reported, as some of the late-comers were not versed in cruising etiquette. A brawl between two British families broke out over who was drinking the better champagne, children threw food at stewards and the captain was booed when he tried to count down to midnight on New Year's Eve, it quoted disgruntled passengers as saying.

* In the 1985 film "Desperately Seeking Susan," Madonna ducks into the store "Love Saves the Day" and trades in her leather jacket for rhinestone studded boots. This week the shop in New York City's Greenwich Village, which sells vintage toys and clothing and 1950s and 1960s memorabilia and is known by some by its initials LSD, closed down after 42 years.

* The White House is for sale, a casualty of the U.S. housing crisis. In fact it's just a scaled-down copy in Atlanta of the U.S. presidential mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. The 16,500-square-foot (1,533-sq-meter) house, which the New York Times calls "a kooky symbol of this boom-boom city's ever-growing residential skyline," is up for sale by its owner, a property developer who has fallen on hard times, for $9.88 million.

(Compiled by David Storey; Reporting by Pat Harris in Nashville, Simon Gardner in Santiago, Richard Leong and Diane Craft in New York, John Voos in London; editing by Vicki Allen)

 
<p>Pedestrians pass discount high street stores, in north London January 14, 2009. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>