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Area businesses worry how Department of Defense furloughs will affect them

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LEAVENWORTH, KS (KCTV) -

Civilian workers at Fort Leavenworth are taking an unpaid day off Friday and there are a lot more of those days coming.

With thousands of Department of Defense employees on furlough, neighbors and businesses in Leavenworth, KS, wonder what that will mean to their bottom line.

"It's really disappointing for people who don't have a lot of money to begin with, much less my customers who have a little more disposable income. But still 20 percent hurts," said Kathryn West, owner of The Pot Rack.

West owns the upscale cooking shop in downtown Leavenworth. She wonders how upscale will play out when thousands of Department of Defense employees at Ft. Leavenworth get their first furlough paycheck.

"What I have isn't necessary to operate your home. Is it nice? Yes. Necessary? No. Prices are a little higher because of the quality. If you have 20 percent less to spend and you don't have to have it, what you have to have is going to get purchased," she said.

West said even though the furloughs are only scheduled for the next 10 Fridays, the loss of income will affect her through Christmas.

"I have to plan for Christmas, I've already bought for Christmas. I hope I can sell what I bought. If you don't know what's going to happen to a significant portion of your customer base, 20 percent disposable income going by the wayside is significant," she said.

Tom Gray is one of the D.O.D. employees on his first furlough day Friday. He said he won't be doing much beyond paying his bills for the next 11 weeks and he's already scraped plans for a vacation.

"You take 20 percent away from everybody and you've eliminated all discretionary income and also probably cut into requirements for paying bills. Subsistence. It may only be 11 weeks, but there the recovery time after that," Gray said.

Then there's the frustration of not being able to do anything about it.

"The people we've sent to Washington to do the business of the people, they're not doing it," Gray said.

RD Johnson runs High Noon Saloon and Brewery.

"It's hurting our business. A lot of people depend in the military and D.O.D. around here to make a living," he said.

He said they've seen plenty of ups and downs with the economy and the furloughs won't be helping.

"When people go out to eat or have a beer, this is expendable income. That's a problem for us," Johnson said.

Despite that, he tries to stay optimistic, looking for any silver lining he can find.

"(With the loss of income) maybe they'll stay in town and hit the local places to get a steak," Johnson said.

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