Bryan has been working in Gastown for 15 years and has been cutting hair for over 25. He has been featured on numerous local newspapers and radio shows as the local insider.
With his vibrant personality, and witty jokes you quickly become best friends with Bryan and can't wait to share your stories with him the next time you visit. Check him out. You are guaranteed to leave with a smile on your face.
Bryan of London Barbershop
375 Water Street - Lower Mall the Landing
Tel: 604 662 4546 CELL: C/O David Hutchinson 778-839-5442
One of the best barometers for how the public feels about an issue is the neighbourhood barber shop, and clients at Bryan of London, a Gastown stylist, had plenty to say about the U.S. economic meltdown and its effect on Canada.
“I’m not concerned,” said David Stagg, a 64-year-old retired Vancouver advertising executive whose stock portfolio is diversified and spread throughout the world. “I don’t put everything in one sector. My portfolio is all over the place.”
Rich Sandor, a North Vancouver car salesman, said: “The economy has absolutely affected our business, but I don’t think it’s the subprime issue that’s doing it.
“The big effect on my business is the fuel cost. People who paid $50 to fill a gas tank two or three years ago pay $100 now. Most people can afford that, but they perceive they cannot.”
Largely because of the subprime mortgage crisis in the U.S., American banks and financial institutions are floundering, and consumer spending there is down. U.S. homeowners, many of whom were given mortgages with very little down payment, have suffered foreclosures.
Stagg says that while there may be a ripple effect here, especially for people who have invested heavily in American stocks, he doesn’t see Canada affected the same way.
“The American banking system is completely different from ours,” said Stagg. “Our banks are regulated. Banks go out of business in the States on a fairly regular basis, but you never hear that happening in Canada. Canadian banks always make money.”
Stagg calls the subprime crisis basic stupidity.
“The crunch that Americans allowed themselves to get into was the U.S. federal government relaxed the mortgage rates and allowed [institutions] to give long and big-percentage mortgages to people who didn’t have any visible means of paying them,” said Stagg. “When the market took a tumble, people realized the mortgage was more expensive than the house was valued at.
“In parts of California there are whole neighbourhoods that were brand-new five years ago, and are now empty.”
Barber Bryan Holman, acting as the moderator in the shop discussion, said his customers often talk about the economy, and many are concerned.
“I have a lot of brokers, and they say they’ve never seen it this bad,” said Holman.
Another customer said anyone who is in the market for five or 10 years and invests in good companies should relax. But he felt anxious for someone who’s 75 years old and counting on stocks to pay for their golden years.
John Hollander, a Gastown building manager, agreed.
“I’m not concerned about my own investments, but stocks and RRSPs are dangerous if people are counting on them for a return on their money,” he said, adding that inflation is also a factor.
“Even if you make money on the market, a loaf of bread might cost you twice as much as when you first invested.”
Hollander likes to invest in precious metals, despite the fact he took a bath on a gold stock. He’s recently been buying silver stocks.
Sandor was more concerned about the things that make life in British Columbia pricier than in the rest of the country: house prices beyond most people’s income, higher gas prices and provincial taxes.
Asked about new carbon taxes, Sandor was divided.
“As a car salesman, I think it blows chunks because it affects my industry,” said Sandor. “The reality of it is I think it’s something we’re going to need to do. But the real solution is better public transit.”
Sandor said he isn’t that concerned about the stock market because he doesn’t invest in stocks and doesn’t have any RRSPs. But Stagg said anyone who has a savings account or a life insurance policy has a stake in the market, because “that money is being pushed through the marketplace.”
A few doors over at the Steamworks Transcontinental restaurant, general manager Marnie Burnett said she hasn’t seen the U.S. market crunch affecting her business. A lot of her customers are brokers and workers in the financial district.
“They’re still coming for lunch,” said Burnett.