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  • Jenny Heinzen York

Welcome to 2012

IT SEEMS LIKEIT SEEMS LIKE JUST LAST YEAR, or was it the year before, or maybe the year before that ... that I was writing a New Year column about how things really would be getting better.
     It can be a difficult job to look for an upbeat angle that makes the dismal situation we've all been in feel like it's coming to an end. But I remain tireless in this endeavor, so I will continue my string of upbeat start-of-year columns as we start 2012.
     Here's one thing that makes me feel upbeat. I sense a real change in the mood of the American people happening right now. To be sure, Washington has probably never been such a mess, nor has this country been more divided in the period since oh, say, the Civil War. But looking on the bright side, I think Americans are actually becoming unified in their frustration. And I think the American people are far smarter than a lot of the political braintrust in this country, and we're much more apt to go out and try to fix things ourselves.
     It's time to stop waiting around for our friends in D.C. to fix things. If they've proven one thing this year, it's that they are not up to the task. This has to be a much more grassroots effort, and it has to start with each one of us.
     During High Point, I chatted with a member of a large furniture buying group. He told me that the 500 member stores in this group had made a commitment to hire at least one new position each of the next five years (for operations with 15 or more employees). The stores also agreed to increase the amount of domestically produced furnishings that they buy by 10% each year over the next five years.
     In the grand scheme of unemployment and overseas production, these efforts won't move the needle much. But, when you look at them on a microeconomic level, these are major moves for small businesses. If more of our companies would look for ways to make these changes over time, the increments could get pretty substantial. This is precisely how this country and its various dysfunctions can be fixed - one small step at a time.
     With the start of another new year, Home Accents Today is adding to our editorial calendar, as we do each year in order to keep our content fresh and our readers satisfied.
     This is a big year for research projects, including our popular Retail Operations survey in June and the Universe Study in December. We will dig deep into the recent U.S. Census data for a look at who is the new consumer, then later in the year, we will get to know many of them through a partnership with Apartment Therapy - the go-to website for the home design-savvy younger generations.
     We are excited to be back on the road, too. Our last market stop was High Point, and it was a great one. Can the trend continue as we head to Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago and L.A. this month? And into February for New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco?
     I think the answer is yes, but I guess you knew I would say that. At least on this columnist's page, the glass remains half full.

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