By the numbers
* 148,000: stores closed in the U.S. in 2008
* 73,000: stores expected to have closed in U.S. by end of June
* 8,768: local businesses with less than 200 employees
While thousands of major stores close, several local small businesses are thriving in the midst of a slow economy.
"The products that we carry are recession-proof," said William Bulls, owner of Premier Beauty on Rossville Boulevard. "Hair and beauty supply is almost comparable to food. People adjust the amount of money they spend, but they still buy it."
Mr. Bulls is one of several local business owners experiencing success despite the recession.
The International Council of Shopping Centers estimates that 148,000 stores closed in the United States in 2008 and predicts another 73,000 will have closed by the end of June.
However, many local small businesses are weathering the times, said Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce officials.
Latest figures list about 8,768 businesses in the Chattanooga Metropolitan Statistical Area with fewer than 200 employees.
"What we're seeing is that it is a challenging time, but for the most part, small businesses are hanging tough," said J.Ed Marston, vice president of marketing and communications at the Chamber. "They had plans in place to weather times, and they're doing so."
Sharon Kelley, owner of Kelley's Senior Services, opened Sharon's Adult Day Care in Cleveland, Tenn., in April and expects to open another adult day care business in Chattanooga in July.
"If you give quality service, people are going to want to use you," Ms. Kelley said.
However, surviving in recession does not come without struggle, said Gary Ball, owner of Tower Construction in Chattanooga.
"It's awful out here," Mr. Ball said. "In residential construction, we're not doing anything. In commercial, every bid list has 10 or 15 people on it and, if you're not careful, you'll end up taking a bid just to get work to pay employees and taking a loss."