Speaking as an NPR junkie, all the news about the economy is at least somewhat scary, but people at Balticon were buying $30 and $50 at a time. And they weren't talking as though they were worried about money, and it was difficult for me to find help at $12/hour.
Some of you may believe that no matter how bad things get, a person can always afford a button. This is not how it works. If someone's low enough on money, they don't go to the convention or they go but they don't go into the dealer's room. I've seen a bad economy in the early 90s, and I had conventions where I could remember every 5 and 12 button sale because there'd only be a few in a weekend.
And it's not that the button business has no resemblance to the economy-- I can remember some years (in the 80s, I think) when my business exactly tracked the way the economy was described in the Wall Street Journal.
So anyway, what might have been happening? Is it that Baltimore is close to recession-proof DC? Is it that the recession hasn't hit ITish people? Is the population density high enough that money isn't sucked away by transportation costs? Nobody mentioned that they were spending their refund check, though that might have been part of what was going on.
One huckster told me that I needed to listen to both Fox and NPR to get some triangulation on the real world.
So, any theories? and what are you seeing personally about the economy?