The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on small towns. Along “Main Street America,” stores are cautiously reopening, and some people are venturing out, but life is just not the same.
Nicole Defour opened Quench Cafe in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, in 2009 after moving in with family when the New York investment firm she worked for, Lehman Brothers, collapsed in the mortgage meltdown.
And while the setting may be different, the feeling of financial loss is familiar, with revenue down 90%. Defour is only able to pay her rent by not paying her own salary.
“It’s personal,” she told “CBS This Morning” co-host Tony Dokoupil.
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“A town that has already been around for 100 years or more has already been through a lot. It was through the Great Depression. It was through world wars. It’s been through the financial shocks of the last 20 or 30 years. So people there know how to reinvent themselves. Their challenge will be to reinvent themselves yet again,” he said.
Yet re-invention could be tough for people like record store owner Tom Lefevre.
In record stores, people tend to browse and talk to the person behind the counter. “It’s definitely a personal experience,” Lefevre said.
That experience has changed a bit at Main Street Juke Box, a shop that’s already survived, among other things, the age of digital music.
It’s been a couple of months since someone walked in the door, Lefevre said. But, it’s not the first time he hasn’t had business for that long.
“Twelve, 13 years ago, I was across the street, … and there was a fire, and I lost my whole business,” he said. “I was down for probably a couple months until I got insurance money, and then I landed in here.”
Insurance, however, won’t cover the losses from the pandemic. “It was a big shock to be honest with you. I was kind of angry, too,” Lefevre said.
The anger and sorrow along Stroudsburg’s main street isn’t much different than anywhere else. But if you’re going to go through a bad time, Defour said her town is a good place to do it.
“People are just asking how am I doing because they want to make sure we stay around and we stay, you know, relevant and we get through this,” she said. “I can feel that. I can feel that they really care when they ask me how we’re doing. Like how do you put a price on that? That’s amazing.”
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