February 2, 2009

Phrase coined in bad times endures

Will the last person leaving Seattle turn out the lights remains an enduring message, say the two men who put the phrase on a billboard 38 years ago.

It just won't go away, said Jim Youngren, who with fellow real-estate agent Bob McDonald put the message on a billboard when Seattle was facing tough economic times.

Now, with Boeing, Starbucks and Microsoft announcing layoffs, their message is reappearing on blogs and posters throughout Seattle, The Seattle Times reported Monday.

In the last 38 years, the phrase has been copied around the world with the word Seattle replaced by Detroit, New Jersey and even the Planet, the Times reported, noting it's also been used for other occasions such as Will the last person with ethics on Wall Street turn out the lights.

McDonald, 71, and Youngren, 68, went on to prosper in real estate and have some advice for would-be investors today:

Don't panic. Things will come back, Youngren said. When the market is down like it is now, usually the smart people are buying.