Politics

October 15, 2012

Off the Trail: Small business owners say candidates are all talk

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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John Merrill, owner of Merrill’s Bookshop on Water Street in Hallowell, says he believes his small business will suffer if Mitt Romney is elected president.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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Geoff Houghton, who owns The Liberal Cup on Water Street in downtown Hallowell, says he’s a fan of less regulation but doesn’t think that either Romney or Obama has a good grasp on small business.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

From his perch behind the counter at Kennebec Cigar across the street, Tim Giggey also has a pretty good sense of what's good for business: cheap gas and oil.

"What really affects this business is the price of gas and the price of heating oil. The guy who buys a $15 cigar when gas is cheap buys an $8 cigar when gas is $4 a gallon," said Giggey, who lives in town. "The price of crude coming out of the Middle East isn't affected by who's president. It's affected by bankers and big business."

He agrees with Houghton. Neither candidate knows much about small business, and most of the small-business talk is rhetoric.

He plans to vote for Obama. The president inherited a bad economic situation, and has improved it, he says.

Besides, he adds, Romney is unproven and untrustworthy, and doesn't have Giggey's best interest at heart, personally or otherwise.

"That 47 percent thing is too much of a bell to unring," he said.

Walk into Merrill's Bookshop on Water Street, and there's no question where shop owner John Merrill stands politically. He is decidedly left of center. He tapes political cartoons across his bookshelves, and isn't afraid of expressing his opinion.

Merrill has been in business for 22 years. He is known for stocking unusual, rare and scholarly books. His shelves are packed with first editions.

He is the shop's sole employee, and has no plans to hire additional help regardless of the outcome of the election. If Romney wins, Merrill's taxes are going up, he says. And that would be bad for his business and most businesses up and down Water Street.

"The key thing for small businesses like you see in Hallowell is the fact that you need increased consumption," said Merrill, who lives in Augusta. "This is one place where Romney and his team have it absolutely wrong. It's not a question of giving people more money at the top. No one is going to create more jobs unless there are people at the bottom who can afford to buy their products."

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:

bkeyes@pressherald.com

Twitter: pphbkeyes

 

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