Part of my job at Lehman’s is to figure out what the future holds, and to make sure our family’s company is ready for it.
Here are some of the things I’ve noticed lately:
Dentists say that molar damage from tooth grinding is up. What does it mean? It tells me that people are worried. They’re not sleeping as well as they used to. The economy probably bears a lot of blame for this. That also means that when people do have tooth damage, they are probably waiting longer to get it fixed. (Among the Amish, who are well known for being careful with their money, a common response to expensive tooth problems is just to pull the tooth.)
I heard that vasectomies are up 48%. This possibly reflects on the state of the economy. Any parent knows that getting kids safely from birth to the place where they can have effective and successful adult lives is an expensive process! But, it may also point to a darker truth…potential parents may not want to bring children into such a troubled world. (Since birth control is often frowned on among the Amish, some local doctors perform them “on the QT” after hours.)
Our service department is busy with wood stove repairs much earlier than usual. Some of the stoves we’re working on are a decade old or more. One needed to be partially disassembled so so that we could remove the mouse nest from behind the baffle plate. Another came with orders to fix it “regardless of cost.” By bringing their old stoves out and rehabbing them, folks seem to be demonstrating a desire to return to more practical, money-savings way of life.
Gun sales were up last year. I believe most of this was a response to fears that new laws were coming that would tighten the requirements on gun ownership. But, like the trend in vasectomies, it may also point to a darker reality. Old Timers claim that during the Depression, folks made legendary sacrifices to share with others. Do rising gun sales mean mean that Americans today are more likely to defend what they have rather than share it?
Shark attacks fell last year. (I haven’t heard what’s happening this year.) For all the publicity shark attacks get, who would have guessed that they would be falling? And, why would they be falling? The short answer is that people are taking fewer expensive vacations. Our store in Kidron is widely known as an attraction worth visiting. Our customer traffic is about the same. But, we are seeing more people coming from nearby, and fewer from great distances.
Gardening is way up. We’re seeing lots of new gardeners that want to know how to do it. They not only want advice on gardening, but on how to preserve their harvest. Of course, we’re happy to help any way we can, even if it doesn’t necessarily mean selling more products. That’s why we have our resident gardening expert, Karen Geiser, at an advice booth in our store most every Thursday and Saturday. She spends hours helping folks with gardening issues, ANY gardening issue (even those that can’t be solved with products we sell at Lehman’s).
Take all these facts together, and it tells me that people are getting ready. Ready for a future where, possibly, things are tough. There also seems to be a strong trend toward self-sufficiency.
I think that self-reliance and readiness are great. To the extent that we can, we should each try to achieve a greater measure of both. America will be a better place because of it, if we do it with thought, care and respect for others.
What are you doing to be more prepared for a self-reliant future? I’d love to hear from you!