In this economic environment it’s a matter of what the market will bear or bare. As in shake down cook down distill slow cook boil over then simmer down. Like that sticky residue on the rice cooker. Continued cutbacks and empty storefronts. Seattle is bit behind the curve or on some other curve altogether. A warped curve that looks different around the 48th parallel and west of Cascades. Whatever that means…take the messenger industry for example. More specifically take a little look at the Seattle messenger industry as a mini microcosm of microeconomic indicators from which to extrapolate some bullshit predictions about the entire world economy. It’ll make as much sense as anything you’ve been hearing from the experts in DC on CNN or NPR. I got your consumer confidence right here.
In the salad days heyday Seattle was rolling over 206 messengers strong. When a bike could still beat a fax machine and travel agents printed paper plane tickets on dot-matrix printers. When dot-com venture capital was littering the streets sidewalks and elevator banks. When investors thought Kozmo.com had a viable business plan. When vacancy rates were under 5%.
Today, we’re down to about 35 bike messengers in the Emerald City. The behemoth ABC is relatively small, with only 11 riders. Jimmy Johns has surpassed them as the biggest company in town (I didn‘t add their riders to the grand total). Fleetfoot is vaporizing. Stealth is hourly. And at Attention-to-Detail Legal, I now have only 1.5 coworkers on the street.
Bike messenger companies won’t go away completely but they’ll look different. Just like stock brokers and bankers look a little different in 2010. Developers investors construction companies architects engineers and lawyers… look different. Messengers start their own messenger companies and turn into owners who then lose their street cred get fat and go out of business. Corrections in the market by the market. Outliers reeled back in or just left out to dry up. Bullshit bubbles popped and pooped. Gravy trains derailed. Gravy dogs go to law school get married have kids graduate school medical school nursing school law firm mailrooms film school rock star organic farm Microsoft construction FedEx PDX bookstore coffee shop river guide ski patrol dishwasher writer. Moving on growing up dropping out selling out.