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    Albany local businesses feel chill of recession

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    Cafe Raj, a popular Indian food restaurant on Solano Avenue of Albany, suffered a 30 per cent drop in sales revenue in recent months due to ongoing recession. Photo by Linda (Linjun) Fan.

    The chill of a nationwide recession has struck businesses in Albany. Restaurants, retail shops, and hair salons in the city are losing profits significantly.

    “People are really hurting, ” said Rosemarie Eichner-Raja, owner of Cafe Raj restaurant.

    Eichner-Raja and her husband have been running the neighborhood restaurant on Solano Avenue for nine years. Several hundred loyal customers used to visit the restaurant frequently for its tasty Indian food.

    Many of them visit the restaurant less often now. Old customers told the couple that they had to skimp on eating out. The restaurant’s monthly revenue dropped by 30 per cent compared with its revenue a year ago.

    Cafe Raj is not alone. A number of businesses in Albany are experiencing a significant drop of sales revenue. It’s estimated that sales revenue citywide could decrease by about 15 per cent this year, according to a Febuary budget report by city staff.

    Rosalva Gutierrez, owner of Albany Hair Salon, said her customers are paying less visits and cutting out services. Not a single customer could be seen in the shop Thursday afternoon, which is located near Cafe Raj on Solano Avenue.The hair salon’s revenue has dropped by one fifth in recent months.

    “I can still pay my bills, but who knows how long it will last, ” Gutierrez said.

    She said her business has suffered the heaviest blow from the current recession since its openning 12 years ago. She might have to close the salon if the recession lasts for the following year.

     

    Albany-Berkeley Optometry, a glasses shop  on Solano,  is also losing customers. A musical bell would ring whenever a customer walks into the shop.

    “It has been quiet in the past two months,” said Chona Guernsey, office manager of the shop.

    She said sales has dropped by about 15 per cent. Several customers even cancelled their frame orders recently.

    She is worried about further revenue loss, but is confident in the business’s survival.

    “People need their glasses. It’s a necessity, ” Guernsey said.

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    Cindy Kihm (front), owner of Solano Lighting, has posted discount tags on half of her stock to boost sales. The shop has lost one fifth in sales revenue since January.

     PriPri Cafe, a small restaurant located at 1309 Solano Ave., has closed recently.

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