By Matthew Bandy
Businesses on Main St. in Kutztown have adapted to the COVID-19 closures of both KU and non-essential businesses, as enforced by Governor Tom Wolf.
With KU, and the county as a whole, under a stay-at-home order, some of these businesses have changed their practices to adapt to the current business environment.
Firefly Bookstore is one such store. Their main patrons were the KU faculty, staff and students. After the shutdown order was enacted, one of the co-owners, Matthew Williams, was forced to send most of his staff home.
“With the state-mandated shutdown and quarantine, we’ve had to completely reorganize around being an online and mail order business…and since our employees have been necessarily placed on furlough, we are doing all this with a limited staff,” said Williams via an email, interview.
Firefly Bookstore, to counteract this loss of in person patrons, has been using social media as an “important vehicle not only for generating sales leads but also for directly communicating with our customers through messaging.”
Stores like Young Ones and Paisley & Company have adjusted their regular practices as well. According to Young Ones’s website has completely shut down their store, offering online services only. Paisley & Company has shifted to online only as well, adding a porch-side pickup for locals. They communicated these changes via Instagram on March 21.
Many of the restaurants on Main Street have adjusted their practices as well. The Kutztown Tavern offers a limited menu for takeout. Tommy Boys pizza has remained open, offering takeout and delivery services. Pops Malt Shop, as well, has remained open for takeout and delivery. A representative of Uptown Espresso noted that “in response to [the pandemic] crisis, Uptown has modified its hours. We are still open, but the hours are now 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. Monday-Friday only. Takeout or curbside pickup are available.”
Some businesses have been deemed essential and have, for the most part, remained open. This includes the bigger chain grocery stores like Giant and Weis but also the smaller stores like Mr. Food. Second Nature, as well, has been deemed essential and has remained open to allow locals to purchase their selection of essential groceries and goods.
Businesses like Lucky 13 have been closed until quarantine is lifted. This has not stopped Lucky 13 from operating their online store. Students of KU made up a large portion of their patrons, so Lucky 13 has had to reschedule or cancel many of their appointments. In an Instagram post on March 30, Lucky 13 announced they would reschedule all appointments as soon as the stay-at-home order was lifted.
James Maybaum, a senior at KU currently living off campus, has noticed some of these changes on Main Street. “Most stores have new hours and are doing delivery and pick up only. There are ‘for rent’ and ‘for sale’ signs all over Kutztown’s Main Street.”
The closure of these businesses has affected some of the remaining students as well. Maybaum said that the closures have prevented him from getting a job at nearby businesses, like he had planned to. “Because of that, I have been mostly going to the food pantry.”
The absence of the larger KU student body is felt throughout the town. “Obviously, with the school closed, the entire community is affected… it’s been a huge adjustment for everyone,” said Williams.