October 10, 2008 / 12:17 PM / 10 years ago

Wall St. woes spur new patterns on Main St.

GRAPEVINE, Texas (Reuters) - At one intersection of Wall Street and Main Street, retailers and shoppers say America’s economic woes are spurring new patterns in consumer behavior.

Street signs mark the intersection of Main Street and Wall Street in Windom, Texas October 8, 2008. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

“You need to find little places to save money because money is getting tighter. My husband and I have a lot of money in the stock market, it’s a worry,” said 36-year-old housewife Michelle Nicholson as she shopped for second-hand designer clothes.

The shop she was seeking bargains in, the Revolving Closet, stands almost literally on the corner of one road called Main Street and another called Wall Street in Grapevine, an affluent town just north of Dallas.

The notion of Wall and Main streets meeting has been much on American minds in recent weeks as everyone watches to see how the meltdown in the financial industry affects “Main Street” — a common metaphor for ordinary Americans and their consumer habits and preferences.

Revolving Closet manager Barbara Moloney said it was a good time for her niche market — second-hand women’s designer clothing.

“You see people emptying out their closets perhaps to get a little bit of extra cash. And then you have people wanting designer labels but retail prices are just too much now,” she told Reuters, adding the shop had just opened in July — a new business for new spending habits.

Shopper Nicholson said she fell into both categories, selling old clothes at the shop and seeking bargains there.

Elsewhere on Main Street Grapevine, which is dotted with small shops, flea market hawkers, wineries and restaurants, the impact on business of tightening credit, failing banks and sinking stock markets was more varied.

“I’m probably doing better than Wall Street, I’m not making any money but I’m not losing any money,” said Jim Spokes, a Canadian retiree selling handmade wooden craft items.

Jerry Binder said his business was up 50 percent this year compared to last, a fact he attributed to tougher economic times because he sells gourmet soup, dip and cake mixes — stuff people can make at home.

“People who are on a budget want to stay home and cook and all of my items are under $10,” he said.

Price did seem to be key. Hawkers at a small flea market selling lower priced items said Wall Street’s crisis had not trickled down to their markets yet.

“People don’t have the disposable income they once had, it’s tough times. So price is key,” said Don Rowe, who sells elastic book marks that go for no more than $13.

Editing by Eric Beech

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