Who's Succeeding During The Economic Slump? In many places around the country, the economy is down — but not everywhere. As economic changes alter how we work and play, some sectors are actually benefiting. Companies that sell bikes and charter boats are experiencing an unexpected boon.
NPR logo

Who's Succeeding During The Economic Slump?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/92960426/92960402" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Who's Succeeding During The Economic Slump?

Who's Succeeding During The Economic Slump?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/92960426/92960402" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


As the economy heads south, it's awfully hard to escape the effects. The stock market is down. Gas prices are up. It seems to affect the price of just about everything. But only just about. There are actually a few jobs that seem to be doing quite well. And over the next few minutes, we're going to take a telephone tour of the country and talk with some people who are doing perhaps unexpectedly fine.

First up, Baltimore, Maryland. Fran Lessans is the president and CEO of Passport Health, a company that specializes in immunization. She joins us from her office. Thanks so much for being with us.

Ms. FRAN LESSANS (President and CEO, Passport Health): Thanks for having me.

SIMON: How has your business been affected by the dollar?

Ms. LESSANS: We've not been hurt. We never saw the folks going to Europe, anyway, because you don't need to be immunized to go there. So a lot of the folks who were planning to go to Europe decided that they would go elsewhere where the dollar could go a little further. There are wonderful places to go, like Thailand - China, India are booming for business. And of course, Central and South America are very close, and the dollar goes far.

SIMON: I have to ask, Ms. Lessans, does anybody ever yelp with pain when you give a shot?

Ms. LESSANS: Truthfully, usually they yelp before they get the shot.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. LESSANS: It's the fear of the anticipation.

SIMON: Right.

Ms. LESSANS: Most people can't believe they got the shot after it's over. And they're still, you know, cringing, when are you going to do it? And it's done.

SIMON: Good shooting to you, Ms. Lessans.

President LESSANS: Thanks.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: And now, a little bipedalism. We called Skip Flythe, who owns Flythe Cyclery in Raleigh, North Carolina. Mr. Flythe, thanks so much for being with us.

Mr. SKIP FLYTHE (Owner, Flythe Cyclery): You're welcome.

SIMON: Has business been good recently?

Mr. FLYTHE: Very good. A lot of people are not traveling on vacations so they're tending to, you know, purchase, fix up old bikes, that sort of thing. A few are commuting to work, yes. But most people live too far out in bedroom communities.

SIMON: Yeah.

Mr. FLYTHE: And cannot commute in.

SIMON: Americans have an impression that the price of everything is going up. Is that true with bicycles?

Mr. FLYTHE: Yes, sir, very much so. You know, I've seen price increases in the last, oh, 10 to 15 years of maybe $5 to $10 a bike each year, but this year it's $75 to $100 plus.

SIMON: What do you think the increase is due to?

Mr. FLYTHE: They tell us it's due to petroleum products that are used in the bicycles - tires, seats - and aluminum prices are so high. On top of that, then you've got transportation.

SIMON: So have you had someone come into your store and say, I'm going to get a bicycle for $300, and I won't have to buy gas this summer at all?

Mr. FLYTHE: They're coming in, and they're saying, I want to buy a bike to go the short distances. Or, once I get home, and I don't want to crank my car back up, and I want to ride to the store. That's what we're seeing a lot of.

SIMON: Skip Flythe owns the Flythe Cyclery in Raleigh, North Carolina. Thank you so much, Mr. Flythe.

Mr. FLYTHE: Yes, sir. Thank you.

SIMON: And now to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where we caught up with Captain Sonny Schindler, part-owner of Shore Things Charters, which charters fishing boats off the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Captain SONNY SCHINDLER (Part-Owner, Shore Thing Charters): We have two boats now that run almost every day, or try to. We have eight kayaks. And we have a lodge right on the waterfront.

SIMON: Now, you specialize in these inshore charters.

Capt. SCHINDLER: Yes, sir. Most of the times, we're out there fishing. We're within site of land.

SIMON: The fuel costs must have affected you, though, because you still have to get offshore, don't you?

Capt. SCHINDLER: Believe it or not, it actually helped our business. The fuel cost put a damper on most people buying boats, so a lot of people are chartering us now, just - it makes more sense. It's always cheaper to charter, that's our motto.

SIMON: So business has been good.

Capt. SCHINDLER: Business is incredible. There's really no complaints. Just not enough sleep.

SIMON: You're one of those rare businesses in this country now.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Capt. SCHINDLER: Call me in the winter.

SIMON: Still, in all, given the rising prices of fuel, have you had to raise your prices?

Capt. SCHINDLER: We did raise our prices, but we really only had to up our prices $25 because we don't go very far. We're finding more fish in places that are closer. It's just so much cheaper.

SIMON: So, so many other businesses across the country are laying off people and having problems, and you have more business than you can handle.

Capt. SCHINDLER: Well, times are tough, but if you're going to spend your money vacationing somewhere or...

(Soundbite of cell phone ringing)

SIMON: Sounds like you've got another call coming in.

(Soundbite of cell phone ringing)

Capt. SCHINDLER: That's somebody calling for a trip, I apologize.

SIMON: No, it's fine. You're a busy man. Have a good summer. Good luck to you.

Capt. SCHINDLER: Yes, sir. Appreciate you calling.

SIMON: Captain Sonny Schindler. We also heard from Fran Lessans in Baltimore, Maryland, and Skip Flythe in Raleigh.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.