Though most Brunswick businesses have not been drastically affected by the current economic crisis, many local store owners have had to make adjustments after seeing a gradual decline in sales.

Paul Harrison, owner of Little Dog Coffee Shop on Maine Street, said he had noticed a decline in business since last winter when "oil prices really started to shoot up."

According to Harrison, the changing economy has led to fewer people buying coffee by the cup, and more people buying it to brew in their own homes.

"You definitely notice that there's not quite as many people and that we sell a lot more coffee beans," said Harrison.

To cope, Harrison said that he has been watching inventory carefully, adjusting staff hours, and making more of the shop's food in-house.

But Harrison added that sales at the Little Dog Coffee Shop do not "mirror the market," and that it was important to him that the shelves remain full and that there is enough staff to help customers.

"You have to have your business look like it's an inviting, full place to come to," Harrison said.

Doug Lavallee, the manager of Scarlet Begonias, also said he has observed a recent decline in sales. Like Harrison, he remembers it starting last winter, though the restaurant has felt the effects of the economy's downturn in different ways than Little Dog.

For one, Scarlet Begonias keeps a very low inventory of long-keeping items, instead relying on frequent deliveries of fresh supplies. According to Lavallee, most of the produce Scarlet Begonias uses is not local, and thus has become costly as gas prices stay high.

Nevertheless, Lavallee said that he has been lucky enough not to have to cut staff. He also said he thought the economic downturn wasn't affecting Brunswick as strongly as other parts of the country.

"Hopefully this is a short-lived recession, if that's what they're calling it," he added.

Like Harrison, Dave Hunt, the owner and sole employee of Vinyl Haven Records, recognized that his business is at least partly fueled by the desire to escape the concerns of daily life.

"A lot of people come in here just to look around and they're going down memory lane," said Hunt. "They laugh and show each other covers and talk about what was going on in their lives [when the record they found was popular]."

Hunt has repaired and refurbished high fidelity supplies in different places for over 40 years. His experience makes him confident that, in addition to the nostalgia his business provides, the nature of its services keep it fairly safe from the hits the market is taking.

During the last large-scale recession in the 1970s, Hunt said he and his business were "insulated from real economic downswing," because people are more likely to "bring something in to be fixed than buy something new."

"I don't think I've seen a general downturn in business," said Hunt.

The recent news that Grand City Variety on Maine Street is closing in December was sobering for many small business owners in Brunswick, though many remain optimistic and prepared to endure the uncertain times ahead.

"You've just sort of got to take it month by month," said Harrison.