Monday, November 2, 2020

How has the pandemic affected your town?

I took the day off work last week and sat at an outdoor cafe with a stack of magazines. That's when I noticed that the shop that makes acai bowls had closed. We hadn't ordered from them for a while, and I felt guilty about that. There were other customers seated around me at the eight tables. But people soon left and for a few hours that afternoon, I was the only person there. 

The closing comes on the heels of other eateries in our town shutting down: The French restaurant where I had a birthday party for Dave. Our beloved vegan bakery. A sleek restaurant in the new building in town. The Mediterranean place. 

As I juggle my anxieties about our family's well-being during the pandemic, I'm also concerned about the well-being of our town. Every single time I drive by the sign on the Italian place in the next town over that proclaims "Eat or we all starve," it tugs at my heart. The National Restaurant Association estimates that nearly one in six eating and drinking establishments in the U.S. has closed permanently or long-term as of September, with more likely to come. Thousands of small businesses have shuttered, too.

We moved to our town in New Jersey because it's a community with heart. The main street has an array of restaurants and stores as core to its essence as our charming old homes and leafy trees. The staff at my favorite coffee shop knows my name and exactly how I like my iced coffee (light with almond milk and two Equals). Businesses reopened mid-June, at 50 percent capacity. The local independent movie theater, the one that has a special place in my heart because it was where Max first saw a movie seven years ago, is still closed even though they were allowed to open before Labor Day.

Some stores have online ordering and curbside pickup, including our bookstore (it's run by the parents of an adult child with autism, so I extra adore it). The siren call of Amazon Prime is strong, but I make it a point to shop from them and get gift cards for people for birthdays and other occasions, and I'll be doing our holiday shopping locally.  Once it's cold outside, I'm not sure how we'll feel about dining in tents with heaters if the tents are totally enclosed though we'll continue to order takeout. (Indoor dining just isn't an option we're personally comfortable with, though not everyone feels the same.)

I have all all the feels for the restaurant and small business owners doing their best to get by in tough times; government aid alone (if they even do get more) won't save them. Hopes and good wishes aren't enough—we have to actively shop and support our towns. Dining and shopping as good deeds: That's a win-win. 

1 comment:

  1. Ellen....
    A cute little local library bookstore closed forever because of the Coronavirus global pandemic. Our family used to shop there whenever we could. {It was not located in our city}. Several of my dog reference books were purchased at that library bookstore. I said several times that ‘when this is all over’ I want to go back there. It is sad. Both my dogs have died and travelled toward The Rainbow Bridge. When I heard that this library bookstore closed forever, it kind of emotionally felt like they passed away all over again. :(
    Peace and Love, Mary Lou


Thanks for sharing!

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