Stock market numbers aren't the only signs of economic recovery

Angie Bey, who's worked at Long's for 13 years, calls it the "cream-filled" index.
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The stock market saw a second straight record-setting day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 42 points, to build on Tuesday's record, to close at 14,296. The S&P 500 gained a point to close at 1,541, just 35 points away from the current record. NASDAQ dropped a little to 3,222.

When you adjust for inflation over the past five years, the Dow is still a little shy of a record. But many people see the final number as a sign of a recovering economy. Eyewitness News set out to find other signs of recovery.

First stop: Long's Bakery on 16th Street, where they have their own economic barometer. Angie Bey, who's worked at Long's for 13 years, calls it the "cream-filled" index.

While the popular bakery never hurts for business (heck, there are lines for doughnuts at noon!) when the economy is humming along, Bey said they sell considerably more cream-filled confections, which are a bit pricier than regular doughnuts.

"We're selling more than ever," Bey said. "I guess everybody has a little more money to spend."

Lagatha Gary bought three for the road.

"I don't drink, I don't smoke or do drugs, so it does relieve all the stress. It just rejuvenates me," she said.

Next stop - Mars Venus Salon and Day Spa in Brownsburg, where they use the "cut and color" index. As owner Kristie Sylvester explained, the less money clients have, the longer they wait to have their hair cut or colored.

For instance, in good times, many regulars get their hair cut once a month.

"When the whole economy went south it was more like eight weeks," Sylvester said. "And we were seeing them every four weeks, so it was a huge adjustment for us."

She says hair styles also became simpler and easier to maintain with the "ombre" suddenly popular. That's where the hair is darker on top and lighter on the bottom, so highlights aren't needed as often.

But Sylvester said things are looking up. Clients who were laid off are getting jobs and coming back, more often.

"I feel the economy is getting better, you see how the Dow Jones did yesterday," She said. "And I see (clients) coming in more like every six weeks now."

Next stop - Bone Appetit, which sells dog food and treats in Brownsburg. Referring to the Dow, owner Suzanne Kudlaty said, "Sometimes I think there's a lag before we see that reflected in our business. but I would say we've seen an uptick in dog food sales."

So, call her gauge the "dog food" index.

Kudlaty said while pet owners don't think twice about buying a small bag of dog treats for $3 to $5, high-end dog food is another matter.

"Especially for people who have more than one pet at home," she said. "If times are tough at home, they may go to the grocery store brand when what they prefer to buy is something more nutritious and better for their dog."

But better, which includes dog food made of duck, salmon and wild game, can cost up to $69 for a 35-lb bag of food.

As for where her dog food index is now? Not as strong as the Dow, but inching up.

"I think it's on the rise. I think people are coming back to get better dog food," Kudlaty said noting sales go up as "people feel more comfortable with their financial situation."