WITHERING ON THE VINE

24 comments

Posted on 1st October 2012 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Whenever I see stories like the one below, I find myself focusing on the cultural and societal aspects, rather than what the writer was attempting to convey. The story captures the facts, but not the big picture of why this happened. It’s another sad story that has its roots in the delusion that debt financed spending equals wealth. The reason 30% of all the nurseries in the country have closed in the last five years is because they shouldn’t have been in existence in the first place. The demand for landscaping services in this country was falsely created by Ben Bernanke, Alan Greenspan and their printing presses. Greenspan’s interest rate policies created a false boom in housing. The false boom in housing led to a false boom in landscaping, renovations, decks, patios, appliances, and autos. Delusional Americans by the millions sucked the vaporous equity out of their houses and spent it on shit that made them feel richer. The took over $1.8 trillion out of their houses over 3 years and poured it into the economy, creating the illusion of true demand.

 

When the housing market crashed, the equity was vaporized, and homeowners were left with billions of debt and no cash. After the greatest housing boom in history, Americans are now left with near the lowest amount of equity in their homes in history. The boom started with Americans having in excess of 60% equity in their homes and today have less than 45% equity in their homes.

The demise of nurseries, Circuit City, Best Buy, millions of contractor jobs, and thousands of other small businesses can be directly blamed on the policies of the Federal Reserve. And now they are attempting the exact same medicine that created the misery in the first place. Their solution to a problem caused by excessively low interest rates and money printing has been to lower interest rates to zero and print money at hyper-speed. I just know it’ll work this time.

The story below glosses over the fact that the owners of this nursery made a choice to give their two daughters the weddings of a lifetime. It says this blew a hole in their budget. What is doesn’t say is that these people borrowed against their business to provide one day of extravagance for their daughters. How American of them. This is where the criminal actions of central bankers meets the stupidity, materialism and shallowness of the average American. If you can’t afford something, you don’t buy it. If you can’t afford an extravagant wedding without risking your livelihood, have a small affordable wedding. These people can blame their business failure on a struggling economy or circumstances beyond their control, but they made choices and are paying the price.

Until the people in this country come to their senses and realize that a debt financed lifestyle does not represent true wealth, we are destined to experience a depression for the ages. There will be thousands more small businesses that go under as the fake boom reaches its final bust stage.

” There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.”Ludwig von Mises

 

Chesco nursery is among many that are withering

After 25 years, Dilworth Nursery has closed. Nationwide, so have up to 30% in the last five years, an expert said.

By Anthony R. Wood

Inquirer Staff Writer

 The Dilworth Nursery in Oxford, PA is being auctioned off.  (Photo by Tony Wood)
 
The Dilworth Nursery in Oxford, PA is being auctioned off. (Photo by Tony Wood)
 
The landscape of the nursery business began changing – and most definitely not for the better – about five years ago, but Jackie and Rick Dilworth didn’t expect theirs to end like this.

On Saturday, they circulated among thousands of their possessions – patio furniture, wood cabinets, kitchen items, the inventory of plants – while the practiced voice of an auctioneer spoke faster than the speed of the typical human’s comprehension.

As the result of a conspiracy of circumstances – most notably the struggling economy – after 25 years, the 13-acre Dilworth Nursery in East Nottingham Township, deep in Chester County near downtown Oxford, is closed for good.

The property is for sale, and the Dilworths aren’t sure where they’ll wind up.

“We never anticipated we’d go out this way,” Jackie Dilworth, 51, said. But they also knew, she said, that given the state of the industry, they could not continue to operate their wholesale-retail nursery, which specialized in unusual plantings for public gardens, arboretums, and landscape contractors.

“The business is not going to come back in our lifetime,” she said.

It certainly won’t happen soon, said Charlie Hall, a horticulture professor at Texas A&M University and an expert on industry trends.

Although hard data aren’t yet available, Hall estimated up to 30 percent of nurseries nationwide had closed in the last five years.

In the 1970s, he said, the nursery business was growing at a 14 percent annual rate, but that had slipped precipitously by the end of the 1990s.

He said that today’s twentysomethings could help revive the nursery trade eventually, but that it could take 15 years.

“It’s been a tough stretch for the nursery businesses and landscaping in general,” said Emelie Swackhamer, horticulturist at the Penn State agricultural extension in Lehigh County. For example, Waterloo Gardens retail shop recently shuttered its landmark Main Line store in Devon.

“People were using the equity they paid into their homes to pay for landscaping,” said Gregg E. Robertson, president of the Pennsylvania Nursery and Landscape Association. “That equity isn’t available anymore.

“The nurseries have been particularly hard-hit.”

Still, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties have about 1,000 remaining nurseries, he said, adding, “Horticulturally, it’s one of the richest areas of the country.”

Along with a housing slump that has weakened demand for nursery stock, the industry’s troubles are deeply rooted in demographics, the experts said.

More baby boomers are moving into condos and letting the condo associations do the work. And many of the boomers staying in their homes are losing their appetite for the larger plantings nurseries sell.

In some ways, Swackhamer said, this literally has become a harder business: People are putting more money into “hardscape” – patios, decks, even outdoor additions.

“I think people want that comfort,” she said.

The Dilworths evidently were in the vortex of the industry storm. “That’s the type of nursery that’s been going out of business because of the recession,” said Susan Barton, a University of Delaware horticulturist.

The Dilworths also confronted a problem common among family-run nurseries: a lack of successors. “There’s always issues with transferring the business,” Swackhamer said.

Three years ago, the Dilworths encountered a not-so-common financial issue. Their two daughters got married, and the weddings ripped a huge hole in the Dilworths’ budget. Eschewing a modern trend, they had picked up the entire tabs.

“We did it the old-fashioned way,” Jackie Dilworth said.

Neither their daughters nor sons-in-laws wanted to continue the business.

Thus, on Friday and Saturday, the possessions accumulated over a generation – from spreaders to Adirondack chairs to Barbie dolls – were offered by Petersheim & Longenecker Auction & Appraisal Co. A pair of snowshoes went for $40; a metal patio set, $115.

About 100 people showed up to pick over plantings that included dwarf pine, blue plume cypress, and forest pansy redbud.

One of those attending, John Wallace, said that although he was sorry to see the nursery go, he would be sorrier to lose his neighbors.

“They’re very good people,” he said, “hardworking people. We’ll miss them.”

24 Comments
  1. backwardsevolution says:

    “The reason 30% of all the nurseries in the country have closed in the last five years is because they shouldn’t have been in existence in the first place. [...] The false boom in housing led to a false boom in landscaping, renovations, decks, patios, appliances, and autos.”

    Everything was make-believe, imaginery, untrue.

    Risky borrowers with mortgages that did not reflect said risk bought things with money they didn’t have; the businesses only lived while the above existed.

    The home owners, and the businesses that fed off them, were the manure, the fertilizer. The FIRE industry was the plant. The plant prospered just long enough for the fruit to be picked by the elite.

    All in all, another successful growing season by the masters of deceit.

    1st October 2012 at 1:59 pm

  2. AWD says:

    What happened to the banks that loaned money to all these failed businesses?

    I wish Admin would do an in-depth article on banks, how many are holding loans and notes to all these failed businesses. How insolvent they are etc. I’m sure he has nothing better to do.

    1st October 2012 at 2:02 pm

  3. Administrator says:

    CHART OF DELUSION & AMERICAN IDIOCY

    f?id=49eb03ec796c7ac3001d68bd&maxX=620&maxY=406

    1st October 2012 at 2:17 pm

  4. Oscar Mannheim says:

    “the delusion that debt financed spending equals wealth”

    ” If you can’t afford something, you don’t buy it.”

    Thank you, Admin, for summing up all of economics, a pseudo-science if ever there was one. Toothless Gustavo the handyman understands that without having to read von Mises or anyone else, because he can’t read in the first place. But he’s doing just fine, thanks, because my nursery is debtless and we grow an organic crop in high demand with low overhead: contributions to the mayor’s campaigns and the local “police benevolent league” about covers overhead, and Monsanto hasn’t moved into the market quite yet.

    I have NO sympathy for spendthrift show-offs. As Marie Antwon-gillnet used to say: “Let ‘em eat shit.”

    1st October 2012 at 2:19 pm

  5. AWD says:

    My house is an ATM

    ar126153511894626.jpg

    1st October 2012 at 2:19 pm

  6. backwardsevolution says:

    AWD – you will eat those bad loans. They are QEing (quietly escaping) onto your back. Remember, the elite get the fruit; you get the chicken sh&t.

    1st October 2012 at 2:22 pm

  7. Maddie's Mom says:

    “Stupid is as stupid does.”

    Forrest, Forrest Gump.

    1st October 2012 at 4:23 pm

  8. DaveL says:

    I got a letter and business card from a plumber Saturday, offering me a 20% discount on work. WTF. A few years ago those fuckers would hang up on you if you had a leaking pipe.

    1st October 2012 at 6:18 pm

  9. Kill Bill says:

    Monsanto hasn’t moved into the market quite yet. -OM

    Do a search for Romney, Monsanto Rider

    1st October 2012 at 9:09 pm

  10. Kill Bill says:

    Life is a box of candy. Brainless sugary shit. -Not Gump

    1st October 2012 at 9:26 pm

  11. Administrator says:

    1st October 2012 at 9:47 pm

  12. Novista says:

    backwardsevolution

    Almost right. I’m thinking — you can’t have securitization without loans — that every loan in America ended up in RMBS or CMBS.

    With TARP and the rest of the smoke & mirrors that ‘saved the world’, =ALL= loans were surreptitously paid out from the $X trillion (Barofsky’s $23T?) and that QEternity is burying away that empty paper.

    1st October 2012 at 10:30 pm

  13. Mr. Fishgrunter says:

    “We blew our livelihood on an event that nobody outside the bride and groom will give two shits about in six months.” It’s a very American competition: what’s going to be more expensive, the wedding or the divorce.
    I can’t believe anyone would wish to deny homosexuals the visceral thrills of the Rollercoaster of Matrimony. It makes using home equity to buy a ski boat seem like fiscal genius.

    1st October 2012 at 10:37 pm

  14. ASIG says:

    On the chart that shows household equity at 45%. Realize that 30% of home owners own their homes free and clear. That means that the other 70% of home owners have less than 15% equity in total.

    2nd October 2012 at 2:15 am

  15. Willy2 says:

    Nonsense. Yes, Greenspan & Bernanke did “print” some money. But US citizens were willing and facilitated by a number of factors that benefitted this borrowing spree.

    People are simply unable and unwilling to borrow anymore. Take a look at the balance sheet of the FED and you’ll see that in and after 2008 the FED “printed”a giant amount of money. did it cause the US citizen to go on a borrowing spree again ? NO.

    2nd October 2012 at 6:51 am

  16. Administrator says:

    Willy2

    Are you really as stupid as you seem?

    Consumer debt is at an all-time high. This is after banks have written off over $1 trillion.

    It is better to have people think you’re a dumbass than open your mouth and prove it.

    2nd October 2012 at 8:09 am

  17. Tina says:

    This makes me so sad.

    I know my local, family-owned nursery is holding on by its teeth.

    Hope they make it, they have their buildings paid off, at least.

    2nd October 2012 at 7:32 pm

  18. Jackie Dilworth says:

    Whenever I read a blog like this I focus on the facts. The economic fall America took – had it been a known variable in our economic plan we would have acted accordingly. You don’t run a business for thirty one years (the last twenty five in Oxford) without being conservative financially. Gee did everyone on this site realize the magnitude of Wall Streets ills and plan accordingly before the crash? Please read Mr. Wood’s article again. The section where he references the two weddings is not in quotes. I never said they blew a huge hole in our finances. Wall Street blew a huge hole in our finances and it was literally overnight. I’m guessing everyone here though didn’t lose a penny. We had land for sale, unfortunately after the crash banks did a 180 and stopped providing loans for land. They also wanted fifty percent down of the list price. Our assests were crippled. I’m guessing everyone here saw that coming too. @AWD you and everyone else will not be eating any of our debt. This is why we liquidated our existence. We have equity and have chosen to pay and move on. We will not consider bankruptcy. Excuse me for allowing my family two lifetime celebrations. We worked hard and didn’t take vacations for thirty one years as many folks do each year. Finally to all the Gurus here and beyond, God Bless you. God has a plan for us. He is in control. Praise Jehovah Jirah!

    3rd October 2012 at 10:18 am

  19. Administrator says:

    Actually, the people who frequent this site did see it coming. I began writing about what was going to happen in early 2008. Many people saw it coming.

    I referenced what was said in the article. I didn’t make it up.

    My post focused on Wall Street and the Federal Reserve creating the situation which led to the demise of your business.

    You did not refute my contention that you likely borrowed against your business to pay for the weddings. Am I incorrect?

    My wife and I came from relatively poor families who could not afford to pay much towards our wedding. No one borrowed to throw a humdinger of a wedding. We threw a wedding we could afford without going into debt. That is an option. Life is made up of choices.

    3rd October 2012 at 10:37 am

  20. Eddie says:

    I have not previously commented on this thread.

    Let me just say that as a fellow small business professional, that I completely identify with you, Mrs. Dilworth, and that I’m running scared as I watch events far beyond my personal control impact the business I’ve built over 20 plus years.

    My best to you and your family as you negotiate your way ahead.

    3rd October 2012 at 10:38 am

  21. Jackie Dilworth says:

    We did not borrow against our business for the weddings. A personal asset of land that we had on the market to sell was to pay not only for the weddings, it also was going to make us debt free and have a nice nest egg. Unfortunately the largest market crash since the depression occured. Our asset was crippled overnight by the banking systems paniced response. Our business income dropped 75% again overnight. Even without the two weddings we would still have to liquidate our business next year. We have had the unfortunate experience of having a business crippled by an economic downturn as well as our asset, which we had available to cash in for such situations. You are correct about life being about choices. I now wish I had sold the land to developers during the boom. People were literally begging to buy it for development. Unfortunately we were too passionate about our plants and we wanted to continue running a truly ‘green’ business. We hoped to sell it to someone who wanted a farmette, since they would be our neighbors. God is in control and has a plan for our lives. I hope now you and your followers can stick to the bigger issue at hand. Mr. Wood emphasised the weddings otherwise it would have been a pretty boring story. God Bless – Thank you Eddie for your kind words.

    3rd October 2012 at 5:42 pm

  22. Administrator says:

    So God decided to screw you for putting thirty years of your life into that business?

    Why would God do that to you?

    God has nothing to do with what happened to you. Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, the National Assoc of Realtors, Obama, Geithner, and the Wall Street shysters destroyed your livelihood.

    Saying it was part of God’s plan is bullshit. God has nothing to do with our economy collapsing. It was caused by powerful criminal men.

    God doesn’t want his name associated with what has gone on in this country for the last 30 years.

    3rd October 2012 at 6:17 pm

  23. Eddie says:

    Admin, I think I understand your anger. In fact I know I do, and I share it. But….

    My concept of God is way different than most here, I think. But I understand folks wanting to have a higher power they can lean on when times are hard. I don’t think this lady is blaming God for her troubles. She’s just depending on her faith to pull her through.

    My forebearers, who were pioneers here in Texas, were much more devout Christians than I am or ever was.

    I’ve always believed that they were so God-fearing because they got to see His wrath in a really up close and personal way, and on a regular basis. My life….has, comparatively speaking, been a piece of cake. I believe that’s because I created some good karma sometime, somewhere. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but I don’t think so.

    I also believe that tolerance is one of the broad principles that made this country great. My only gripe with some who claim to be be good Christians is that they are not tolerant of other peoples beliefs. Just sayin’….

    Maybe this post is out of line. Feel free to delete it if it is.

    3rd October 2012 at 6:58 pm

  24. Administrator says:

    Eddie

    I never delete someone’s comment. I appreciate your point of view. I’m glad you’ve become a regular commentor.

    I understand people relying on the good grace of God, but God gave us free will. He is not directing our every action.

    Evil men have committed evil acts. Millions of Americans have committed the sins of envy, sloth, greed, etc. This is why the country is in its current state. God is not to blame. God will not come to our rescue.

    People need to accept the consequences of their actions. People need to hold those who have committed crimes accountable to the law. God will not fix this for us.

    Our institutions of finance, government and religion are racked by evil and corruption. We need to tear them down and rebuild them.

    3rd October 2012 at 7:37 pm

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