Small businesses pinched by credit crunch

Posted September 30, 2008 5:22 p.m. EDT
Updated September 30, 2008 6:41 p.m. EDT

— Trickle-down economics is at work at Parnell Pool and Spa, where Wall Street's woes are beginning to hurt a Main Street business.

Luxury items like pools – an in-ground pool can cost $22,000 or more – often require customers to take out a loan or obtain some other form of financing. With the credit drying up nationwide as the U.S. financial system struggles, fewer people are buying pools.

"All the different types of funding for the home improvement industry have kind of dried up," said Doug Geibert, who runs Parnell Pool and Spa, a business his parents bought in 1984. "They just can't get the type of funding that we used to have."

Geibert said he has had to lay off some of his construction workers during the downturn.

"We just don't have enough work to go around for enough people," he said.

Parnell Pool and Spa has been doing more work on unsecured loans – jobs are completed before customers pay – than ever before, he said.

“We’re trying every avenue to get funding for people that want the pools and spas,” he said.

Geibert said he doesn't see the situation getting better anytime soon. Even with the bailout plan, lenders will be increasingly tight with their money, he said.

Jean Moore, owner of Moore Exposure, said the sluggish economy hasn't hit her Fayetteville marketing company yet.

"When your sales are down, it's not the time to go into a hole. You need to be out there more. You need to get your name out," Moore said as presses cranked out custom shirts for clients.

But she acknowledged there is potential of a downturn.

"There are companies that have million-dollar accounts with a big bank, and if that bank gets sold or gets in a financial crisis, you lost that account," she said.