How Bad Is The Economy For Tulsa Businesses?

Tuesday, February 24th 2009, 5:03 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- With the economy slumping, many local businesses are coming to grips with the new economic reality.  How bad has it gotten in Tulsa?

To get the nuts and bolts of the recession, The News On 6 went to businesses that deal with nuts and bolts.  National statistics show new car sales are down and that people aren't bringing in their old cars to get serviced.

Drive along old Route 66, and it's all about cars.  For generations, mechanics thrived here along the Mother Road.  Now, the recession is the mother problem.

"It definitely hurts. You have to watch your bottom line, watch your employee hours, and cut your expenses. It's hitting everybody," said Scott Borst with Robertson Tire.

At one Robertson Tire location, business is down 15%.  The manager says it's going hand-in-hand with the stock market.

"November of last year is when we started seeing a decline, and it's gotten progressively worse," said Scott Borst with Robertson Tire.

Borst say the phones are busy, but the walk-in traffic isn't there.   He's had to cut his workers' hours by a third.

"Routine maintenance has fallen off, people think they can push that back a little further," said Scott Borst with Robertson Tire.

Revenue is also down at collision centers.  Tommie Duncan says drivers are dealing with the dings.

"It seems that the aesthetic appearance of the vehicle is not as important, in some cases, as just to get them back and forth to work," said Tommie Duncan with Route 66 Collision Center.

One business that's held steady is used parts stores and salvage yards.

"Credit's bad everywhere, you know, so we're seeing more people come to us to fix those cars, rather than trading them in on something new," said Shannon Latham with Economy Auto Parts.

But, mechanics say their approach won't change.

"You just try to get the best service you possibly can, and give the best value for the customer's dollar," said Scott Borst with Robertson Tire.

Even if customers are more reluctant than ever before to hand over that dollar, repair shops say they're facing a double-challenge because tax season is always the slowest time of year.       

They're hopeful that business will pick up once customers get their tax refund checks.