Local Businsesses Struggle Due to Pandemic

By: Elizabeth Moore ‘24

     The COVID – 19 pandemic has impacted everyone around the world, and its effects are still being felt today, especially in the business world. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America estimates that COVID -19 has temporarily shut down over 43% of small businesses across America.

     Foodservice industries are considered the most vulnerable and projected to be the most affected businesses.  During a recent interview with Kelly Lareau, the owner of J. Lawrence, a restaurant located in downtown Bethel, she described her 2020 as a “good, bad and ugly story.”

     Starting in March 2020, the pandemic shut down businesses across the nation, causing panic and fear of the unknown. Many small businesses were forced to lay off many of their staff in fear of going bankrupt. Lareau shared her personal story of this year, saying that “When we were ordered to shut down, in March, it was extremely rough. We ended up laying off our entire staff, 28 people.” 

     Throughout the year, businesses were able to survive with financial help from the Federal government. Restaurants like J. Lawrence needed this money to keep their doors open. But, as the year progressed, the need for loans and help grew, due to a drop in revenue.  During the last few months, J. Lawrence has experienced a 75% decrease in revenue.

     The need for support from Bethel residents is necessary for businesses, especially during the pandemic.  Lareau reminds people, “Support local. If you do not feel comfortable dining in, remember that there is always take out.” It is so important to remember to shop local during this holiday season.

     Not only have food services been impacted, but also every small business. Kimberly Ramsey, the owner of The Toy Room in downtown Bethel, describes her feelings about the pandemic as “[being] terrified, wondering if I would be able to survive not allowing customers in to shop and also losing the revenue I get from people buying gifts for birthday parties.” The pandemic has impacted both businesses differently, but both are struggling through the same cause.

     Due to the pandemic, both businesses needed to make a change in the way they do business, especially The Toy Room. Selling toys during the holiday season is never easy. The craziness of the holidays can make things extremely difficult, not to mention but even harder during a global pandemic. Ramsey needed to make several changes since people were not able to shop in person. Ramsey says that “When it first hit, I had to close my doors to customers, so I took orders over the phone, through email, text, and Facebook Messenger – basically any way that customers could get a hold of me.” 

     Therefore, it becomes obvious the struggles business owners have been facing throughout the entire year.  The COVID – 19 pandemic has significantly impacted businesses across the nation and changed the way they operate.

     Please remember to shop local and support small businesses, especially through the holiday season.  Visit https://www.jlawrencect.com/ to order take out and have curbside pickup, or visit toyroombethe.com for some holiday gift ideas!

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