Why am I writing this now? I notice more businesses being less able to keep the hours we expected them to keep in the past. Post-Covid (not that we feel quite “post” yet) small businesses seem to be saying, “Things are different.” They are opening fewer hours, offering fewer menu items, and providing fewer seats. Being closed during Covid taught small businesses a few lessons. One: life is better when you are not working 24-7. Two: you can often make just as much money with take-away as with in-house seating. Three: You are the boss. The rules for what was once common practice in providing a service (operating hours, staffing, in-person interaction), no longer apply.
Unfortunately the customer is out there in the parking lot saying, “Geez, I miss sitting inside and socializing with my neighbors.”
Therein lies the rub.
Small coffee shops and bars and, yes, even yarn shops, offer the opportunity to socialize with neighbors that other retail shops don’t offer. The onus is on these neighborhood shops to provide a milieu for the community. Who would have known that they had the burden of the entire community spirit on their shoulders? And yet they do. What is Main street without a coffee house? Nada. What is an afternoon without lunch at a brewhouse? Boring. Who visits a town when all the stores are closed? No one. Absolutely no one. Drive around and you’ll see small downtowns that didn’t make it and it is a sad sight…all those empty storefronts staring woefully at you.
So be mindful, my friends. Cultivate your community. Support your local businesses and community events. Don’t take anything for granted, because you may turn around and it will be gone. Then all you’ll have left is, “Remember when…” We all love the idea of the quaint Main Street, but if we all buy from on-line sites, because we got so used to not leaving home, and we don’t support that Main Street we love, guess what? Like all things neglected, it will go away.
That being said…I’m reducing my hours in September to Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 10:30-4:30. I’ll be back to Wednesdays through Saturday come October, when I’ll also re-start classes and events.