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From a toy store in Cleveland, the Main Street view of the federal budget

Kai Ryssdal Apr 10, 2013
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The phonebook-sized budget bills about to circulate through Washington, D.C., will eventually affect the actual economy. Small businesses included. Entrepreneurs and mom-and-pop shop owners are watching the negotiations.

Steve Presser is the owner of Big Fun Toy Store in Cleveland, Ohio.

“I follow it and of course I care about it. The big question for me and most of my peers and colleagues is how it will affect us,” Presser says. “You know, health care, all the big buzz words affect the small business owners just like it affects the big one.”

But Presser says small storefront business owners like him, who rely heavily on cash flow, are even more vulnerable than larger companies. Particularly when small factors like a rainy day, or bigger changes like layoffs in the local community can dramatically affect sales.

That makes budgeting a trying process, even though he doesn’t confront the same political obstacles as members of Congress.

“We all have to try to get as creative as we can about budget making,” says Presser. “My small business is like the government’s large business: we have to do cuts, we have to decide what’s important.”

While Presser hopes that Congress will put concerns like his toward the top of its list of priorities, he remains skeptical.

“Do I believe that they’re really listening to the small person on Main Street? I think they’re not listening enough.”

Business, however, is improving for the owner of two toy stores.

“I’m starting to see people spend a little bit more money in my store,” Presser says. “I’m now smiling. I’m a little bit more optimistic than I was two years ago.”

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