The Seattle Times is doing a series of occasional columns that will examine the economic downturn's consequences at the grass roots level. Today's story by Jon Talton highlights how locals are coping with rising prices for gas, groceries, and housing. The paper is inviting readers to share how they are coping with economic hard times. If you have been affected by the current economic slump and are willing to have your story and photo published in the Seattle Times, you can visit this link to share your story.

Here is the thing. I believe the news isn't all doom and gloom. And, I am a champion for balanced coverage. I know for a fact that some businesses are actually thriving in a down economy. Alice Cunningham, co-owner of Olympic Hot Tub Company, tells me that hot tub sales for year-to-date 2008 are actually stronger than in 2007, and 2007 was a very good year. She says people are being more thoughtful and deliberate about their hot tub and home sauna purchases, but they are buying nevertheless and making choices that offer more amenities than was the case last year.

Melinda Wade of Sport Boats Northwest is actually expanding to a larger showroom. Even during these very challenging economic times. She said, “Our customers are looking to relax and unwind. Talk of a poor economy isn't slowing them down. At least not at OUR dealership. She added, “At Sport Boat Northwest we carry high-end product lines, with high quality fit and finish. Sales continue to rise, and we're looking forward to an exciting summer!”

Could it be that “big boy” toys and amenities to provide comfort and joy in the backyard are recession proof? I don't know the answer, but I do know that there are plenty of positive stories about how local companies and individuals are thriving, even during these challenging economic times.

Maybe we haven't heard enough about them because they don't want to call attention to their good fortune while others are struggling. Still, bright spots are shining on a number of local businesses. If you are one of them, I challenge you to share your story so readers can get a more complete picture of how things are really shaking out right now. Again, what kinds of positive stories can you share? Now would be a great time to chime in. Here is the link to make it easy.