Since last summer, Allen Wallace had been waiting for his New York State Liquor Authority license to open his new business, Soul Brewing Co., in Pleasantville.
Wallace received the license recently and scheduled his grand opening for last Saturday. Despite the growing health crisis presented by the coronavirus pandemic, he made the difficult decision to open, even though the Pleasantville Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting was postponed.
“I’ve been here a year without generating any revenue, so again, we were trying to be open last August, it just got held up with the licensing forever and ever and ever,” Wallace said. “They have a glut of people applying for licenses. All these things really hurt us, just as we get going. I don’t know what else we can do.”
Wallace is one of countless business owners throughout the area and Westchester and across the nation who face uncertain times. On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated that all bars and restaurants close to patrons except for takeout and delivery service. Wallace said he hopes to stay afloat with his takeout selection.
In Mount Kisco last Saturday afternoon, streets and stores were nearly empty at the time when dozens of organizations and hundreds of participants had been scheduled to march down Main Street in the Ancient Order of Hibernians’ St. Patrick’s Day parade. The sidewalks would have been packed on a mostly sunny day with temperatures in the 50s. Like myriad other events, the parade was canceled.
Robin White, the owner of the boutique New York Dolls on Main Street, was in her store alone hoping to complete a single sale. She had never seen anything like it in her 21 years operating the store.
“I’ve never had a zero sales day,” White said. “It’s tough. There’s no sales, there’s nobody in the store, there’s nobody walking around.”
On South Moger Avenue, Vivian Hoffman, the owner of the boutique Whim, said that with parties, graduations and wedding receptions getting called off, her business has quickly dropped off.
Typically, she regularly buys inventory from her suppliers but that need is screeching to a halt.
“I’m hoping they’ll hold off their fee or give us time,” said Hoffman, who also owns stores in Bronxville and Stamford. “We’re not taking in the cash. How are we supposed to pay our bills? That’s really my concern.”
Meanwhile, Cathy Deutsch, owner of Tiger Lily on East Main Street, said she’ll close Tuesday and reassess how the quickly-changing environment is progressing. If there are few customers and people are encouraged to stay home, it may make sense to close for a while.
She’s contacted her suppliers to tell them to hold off on more inventory.
“I just think people are facing the reality that we’re on the same trajectory as Italy, and that’s deeply concerning, frightening,” Deutsch said.
Pleasantville Mayor said he feared that the deteriorating economy could be a “crushing blow to businesses,” unless the country quickly gets a handle on COVID-19.
“The reality is we need to stop the spread of this (virus) and flatten the curve as you see in these epidemiological articles or you end up like Italy,” Scherer said. “There’s a chance to avoid that and that’s what we have to do.”
It isn’t all doom and gloom, however. Jennifer Kohn, owner of The Village Bookstore in Pleasantville, said as of Monday her sales were on target for March. She noticed that since increased calls for social distancing, more customers started buying multiple books, particularly since the libraries are now closed.
“People may not be going out for a while, so instead of buying one book at time, they’re going to buy two or three books right now and have enough at home, especially families with young children who are going to be home,” Kohn said.
In the event, people can’t come out, Kohn has online purchasing and she delivers. However, she has curtailed store hours because once the Jacob Burns Film Center closed last Friday, the early evening foot traffic has disappeared.
Another business owner, Jonathan Langsam of Falafel Taco near the Pleasantville train station, said so far there’s been ample amount of takeout and delivery, especially with the kids now home from school.
“We are getting foot traffic,” he said. “The kids come in. They’re not afraid.”
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/