For many York County businesses, this summer is 'pivotal' for survival

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

The summer season is proving to be a pivotal moment for small business owners in York County.

With pandemic restrictions lifting and vaccination rates increasing, it's now more important than ever for businesses to recoup losses from the last 18 months, according to Kevin Schreiber, the CEO and president of the York County Economic Alliance.

“I think every business that has made it to this point is looking at these next couple of months as integral," Schreiber said. “For many businesses that are able to hang on, they’re certainly hoping for positive economic activity over the warm weather."

With school out for summer, buzzing economic activity for businesses — especially those in tourism, outdoor recreation and hospitality — could start up again and generate much-needed revenue for businesses that suffered.

For Liz Johnides, the co-owner of The Markets at Hanover, the pandemic affected not only her business but the 40 other local, independently owned shops and restaurants that occupy spaces in her building.

Liz Johnides, co-owner of The Markets at Hanover, talks at the market's food court, about the businesses at the farm market Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Johnides said it's important for the public to support small businesses, like the craft vendors at her market, this summer. Bill Kalina photo

“The cost of cleaning and caring for this facility went up, and the cost to our merchants increased as well," Johnides said. “For most of the individuals here, this is their sole source of income. So when they had to close for months on end, that was damaging."

Heading into this summer, Johnides said she is hopeful for the future of her market and the businesses within it. On a recent weekend, the marketplace's ballroom hosted two weddings and an anniversary party.

“I look at our food merchants being able to once again do catering events," Johnides said. “Right now, businesses are continuing to shift and pivot to ways that they can grow again."

Joe Silbaugh, co-owner of The Markets at Hanover, talks with customers Joanne and Bruce Lorie of Reisterstown, Md, during lunch hour at the farm market Wednesday, June 30, 2021. The market offers a food court, craft beer brewery  and a variety of craft vendors. Bill Kalina photo

Schreiber echoed that sentiment, adding that many pandemic practices in the hospitality industry — such as outdoor dining and to-go dining — have continued because they are convenient for the consumer.

With cautious optimism, Schreiber said any business able to survive the COVID-19 pandemic is looking at the next couple of months as crucial for survival.

The best way for the average York County resident to help small businesses survive is simple: shopping, eating and living local.

”It's important for the public to recognize now more than ever they need to go back to supporting these small businesses," Johnides added. “This is the time — this is the tipping point for many of these businesses."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.