U.S. Consumer Confidence Down, Says Guy Trying To Sell Van

Top Headlines

Local

Boss Able To Seamlessly Blend Constructive Criticism With Personal Attacks

SAN JOSE, CA—Marveling at the ease and deftness with which he communicates the two messages simultaneously, employees at local advertising firm Wavelength Solutions told reporters Tuesday that their supervisor Eric Crowell has a unique ability to seamlessly blend constructive criticism with cutting personal attacks.

Neighborhood Starting To Get Too Safe For Family To Afford

CHICAGO—Explaining that the sense of unease she felt walking to and from her home had declined markedly over the years, Humboldt Park resident Kirsten Healy expressed her disappointment to reporters Thursday that her neighborhood was becoming too safe for her family to afford.

Area Dad Informs Busboy He’s Ready To Order

NASHUA, NH—Raising his arm into the air while leaning outward from the table in a bid to command attention from the other side of the restaurant, area father Walter Bierko called over a busboy at DiCapri’s Italian Eatery to inform him that he was ready to order, sources reported Wednesday.

Winning Argument With Aging Parents Less Satisfying Than It Once Was

CINCINNATI—After firmly telling them that she was okay paying city prices and that she would not move back to her hometown just because it was cheaper, local woman Ellen Wallace, 40, confirmed Thursday that winning an argument with her parents has become much less satisfying as they have gotten older.

Rescuers Heroically Help Beached Garbage Back Into Ocean

ATLANTIC BEACH, NC—In what many described as an inspiring display of selflessness and teamwork, a group of rescuers heroically saved a beached mound of garbage by helping the stranded trash back into the ocean, eyewitnesses reported Thursday.

Man Races Against Time To Take Out Trash Bag With Widening Puncture

RIO RANCHO, NM—His pace steadily quickening as he rounded the corner out of his kitchen and made a beeline for the front door, local man Henry Parnasse reportedly found himself locked in a race against time Wednesday morning to take out a trash bag with a widening hole in its side.

Man Pushed Off Plate Of Chicken Wings By Larger Male

WARMINSTER, PA—Looking on as the intense display of aggressive behavior played out over several minutes, sources at Flannigan’s Bar & Grill confirmed Thursday that local man Pete Samuelson was pushed off a plate of buffalo wings by a much larger alpha male.

Grandma Guts It Out Through Lunch On Sunny Patio

MALVERN, PA—Making the audacious decision to dine outdoors with her family despite a noticeable lack of umbrellas or awnings, grandmother Diane McGilvery, 83, reportedly gutted it out through lunch Friday on the sunny patio of a local restaurant.

Parents Formally Announce Transfer Of Expectations To Second Child

GRAND JUNCTION, CO—Explaining that the adjustment made the most practical sense for all parties involved, local parents Beth and Ryan Morgan held a press conference Friday morning to announce the official transfer of expectations from their oldest child, Jeremy, to his younger sibling, Angie.

Motorcyclist Salvaged For Parts

SIOUX FALLS, SD—Following a multiple-vehicle accident on Interstate 90 that temporarily halted traffic in both directions, sources reported Friday that a motorcyclist involved in the crash was hauled off and salvaged for parts.

Detective Not Sure He Was Close Enough To Partner To Endlessly Pursue Killer

DETROIT—After his partner of three years was gunned down last week while the pair were on duty, Detective David Killian of the Detroit Police Department’s Major Case Squad told reporters Wednesday he was unsure whether he had been close enough to his murdered colleague to single-mindedly pursue the killer for as long as it takes.

Man Pretty Cocky Since Beating Cancer

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL—Whether he’s bragging about his newfound appreciation for life or arrogantly refusing to take anything for granted, local man Daniel Oretsky, 38, has been acting insufferably cocky since winning his two-year battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, sources confirmed Tuesday.

Area Man Under Impression He Got Dressed Up

PROVIDENCE, RI—Explaining that the dinner he would soon be having at an upscale restaurant required him to wear something a bit special, local man Kyle Finnegan was under the impression that he had just gotten dressed up, sources said Thursday.

Man Honestly Thought Breakdown Would Be More Obvious To People

MAPLEWOOD, MN—Explaining that he had assumed the deterioration of his physical and psychological state would be readily apparent, 3M sales associate Mark Uhler told reporters Wednesday he honestly thought his ongoing breakdown would be more obvious to everyone around him.

Report: Dad Wants To Show You Where Fuse Box Is

YOUR LOCATION—Noting that it’s important to be prepared in case of emergencies but it’s also a good thing to know in general, your dad announced today that he wants to show you where the fuse box is.

Neighborhood Busybody Reports Sound Of Gunshots

INDIANAPOLIS—Once again sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong, neighborhood busybody Sally Christensen, 54, reportedly took it upon herself to report the sound of gunshots to law enforcement early Tuesday morning, sources confirmed.

Being Older Than Daughter Babysitter’s Only Qualification

UTICA, NY—Possessing no particular proficiencies or training whatsoever, local 12-year-old Jessica Radloff was reportedly hired to babysit Hayley Carden, 7, this week based solely on her qualification of being older than the child she was asked to watch.

Total Weirdo Spends Mother’s Day At Cemetery

ST. MARYS, OH—Apparently content to hang around dead people rather than celebrate like a normal person, area weirdo John Mills spent most of Mother’s Day at a local cemetery, creeped-out sources confirmed.

Child Visiting Ellis Island Sees Where Grandparents Once Toured

ELLIS ISLAND, NY—Pausing to imagine the throngs of people who must have arrived with them that day back in 1994, 12-year-old Max Bertrand reportedly spent his visit to Ellis Island this afternoon walking around the same immigrant station his grandparents once toured.

Email From Mom Sent At 5:32 A.M.

DENVER—After waking up and finding the message waiting on his computer, local man Drew Swanson confirmed to reporters Thursday that his mother had sent him an email at 5:32 a.m.

Man Proud Of Food He Ordered

DEDHAM, MA—Noting how the man grinned with satisfaction after his Buffalo Chicken Ranch sandwich with a side of spiced panko onion rings arrived at his table, sources at Chili’s Grill & Bar confirmed Tuesday that local diner Matt Schoesse ...
End Of Section
  • More News
Up Next
TV Listings
Just Like Everything Else!: Fox 8 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. ABC Pete's wife is still on him about building that darn shed, these kids are going to be the death of Sheila and Dave, and the hot next-door neighbor is up in EVERYBODY'S business! Sunday nights on ABC couldn't be any more familiar!

Special Coverage

Sleep

Productivity

U.S. Consumer Confidence Down, Says Guy Trying To Sell Van

BROCKWAY, PA—In more bad news for the U.S. economy, consumer confidence is down sharply this week, particularly among those in the market for a used 1994 Chevy Astro, van owner Dennis Schram reported Tuesday.

Schram and his 1994 Chevy Astro.

"It's a good van, with a little less than 100,000 miles on a rebuilt engine that got regular oil changes. It's got LT-package trim, a Bose cassette-stereo, and front captain's chairs, and I never smoked in it," said Schram, 43, who owns his own roofing business. "With all that, $4,200 doesn't seem like too much to ask, so I have to conclude that the average American, worried about jobs and the prospect of war with Iraq, is reluctant to spend right now."

Schram said that, in addition to the weak labor market and unstable Mideast situation, a prolonged decline in the financial markets has dampened consumer confidence and, consequently, eroded consumers' desire to buy a gently used recreational van that would make an ideal second vehicle.

"It's a shame, because it's a great van for camping, hauling stuff, and just tooling around town," said Schram, placing a larger "For Sale" sign in the vehicle's rear window. "Gets pretty good mileage, too, which is important at a time when most median-middle-class households—those earning $40,000 to $60,000 a year from combined income—list long-term sustainability of their current lifestyle as a primary concern."

"Actually," Schram continued, "the only problem she really has is that, like the economy, once she gets going, she can take a long time to change direction."

The feedback Schram has received from potential buyers has convinced him that the economy, not the van itself, is the problem.

"Of the calls I've received, 92.6 percent said they were unable to afford the vehicle at its current Kelley Blue Book-approved price point," Schram said. "Roughly 30 percent indicated that my price was acceptable only if I were willing to take payment in monthly installments, although nearly 15 percent said it was too high regardless. To me, that signals a lack of faith in any impending recovery from the current slump, as well as an unwillingness to make big-ticket purchases for as long as it lasts."

Brockway resident Frank Hopkins, the 7.4 percent of prospective buyers who did not consider the price too high, is expected to meet with Schram after work next Monday to discuss the viability and performance history of the van. Schram said he hopes Hopkins buys the van, for the sake of all Americans.

"Although my experience may or may not be representative of a larger socioeconomic trend, my interactions with potential consumers seem to reflect the general movement toward saving extra income and away from automobile purchases," Schram said. "This is unfortunate, as it keeps currency out of healthy circulation—especially where I'm concerned—and also because this van is a lot more practical than you might think. The mileage is better than most pickups, and you can fit a whole four-by-eight sheet of plywood in the back if you take the seats out."

Schram admitted that his decision to sell the van is a hedge against a possible Christmas downturn.

"The outlook for the holiday retail season is fairly bleak," said Schram, who traditionally sees a falloff in roofing business during the winter months. "Without an upturn in consumer spending on, say, my van, an already shaky Schram-family economic picture could worsen. That means no bike under the tree for the kids, which will just bring the mood down further. It's a self-feeding cycle, you know."

According to Schram, the U.S. economic boom of the mid- to late-'90s was driven by exuberant consumer spending, which prompted a housing boom that increased demand for skilled tradesmen like himself. As a result, Schram was able to purchase the van in 1995, a move he does not regret.

"These days, I just have to spend differently, not less," Schram said. "A drop in consumer confidence almost never causes a simple drop in overall consumer spending. What it produces is a fall in spending on durables. People put off upgrading their computer, buying a new washing machine, or buying a pre-owned van with no rust in the wheel wells—which is a real find for this part of the country, believe me."

Despite the decrease in sales of durables, Schram said not all items suffer during economic downturns.

"The weird thing is which goods benefit, most notably 'comfort products' like chocolate, alcohol, and sundries, an effect that extends all the way to DVDs and home furnishings," Schram said. "But not used vans. Simply put, if I don't move this thing soon, I'm gonna have to take a part-time shift at The Cheese Shoppe to help pay for Christmas."