Coronavirus and Small Businesses

By Sydney Black

The United States, specifically New York, has become an epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak. Schools across the nation have closed and people have isolated themselves from the rest of the world almost entirely. On a local level, Armonk is not a hot spot in the same way that New Rochelle or other surrounding areas have been, but the outbreak is still having a profound impact on our community, specifically felt by  local businesses. For example, DeCicco’s has made significant adjustments to its business to keep residents safe while shopping in its store as well as keeping much needed products in stock. Around Armonk, many other small businesses have had to make tough choices in this environment, including when and whether to stay open- This includes many popular restaurants as well as services, such as Tazza, being forced to temporarily close.

The Coronavirus has already begun to take a massive toll on the economy, especially small businesses. On a national level, a late March poll by The Hill, an American Political Newspaper, found that one in four small businesses are two months or less away from permanent closure. In a town such as Armonk that is interwoven with small businesses, their contributions to the town are sizable.  Consequently, small business closures can have a disproportionate impact on local quality of life. But, there are steps that can be taken to help such businesses. 

Armonk, as a community without malls or big box retailers, is highly dependent on small businesses.  As such, it is critical for residents to support local businesses in order for them to be able survive this crisis.  This may seem like a distant problem but it is really closer than ever. Neal Schwartz, President of the Armonk Chamber of Commerce, believes that “businesses that (have) supported the school and residential community need to be ‘paid forward’, possibly in the form of gift cards or other means.” Additionally, this could also be a time for great economic innovation. Schwartz noted, “In a Darwinian way, those that are best able to both weather the storm and re-invent themselves will prosper.”

Not only will the coronavirus affect the current business landscape in Armonk, but it will also change the way consumers purchase items and the way businesses market their products. Stephan Fisher, who is currently managing his family’s Moderne Barn Wine & Spirits, believes that there will “be a shift towards a digital future, with more people working remotely” following the outbreak.  Already his family’s store has seen strong adoption of digital ordering and curbside pickup or delivery. The future will definitely bring an interesting blend of traditional retail shopping with the relatively new, digitized methods brought to the forefront by Coronavirus.

Ultimately, the Coronavirus will have drastic consequences on Armonk and the surrounding area. Many small businesses have already begun to suffer from a decrease in in-person shopping due to social distancing measures, yet citizens of Armonk can pledge to help by supporting the small businesses that for so long have made Armonk the place it is and continues to be.