Opinion: What does the coronavirus mean for small businesses?


Ethan Murphy, Reporter

Virus cases continue to grow across the country, but what does that mean for small businesses in a college town like Boone?

Managing the spread of COVID-19 poses a challenge in itself, but considering the returning student population of around 20,000, it is futile. This will not only hurt those directly impacted by the illness, but local businesses as well. 

Normally, a spike in the population presents greater opportunity for small businesses as more people visit their shops. Now, the uptick in residents poses a threat to those who don’t follow safety regulations while out.

It doesn’t take an economist to figure out that an unwell population stimulates the economy significantly less than a healthy one. More, if numerous employees contract the virus, businesses would have to shut down or slow services greatly at the very least as seen with Ale House. 

Even if customers maintain their health, these times have only increased the sense of isolation and paranoia pervading modern society. As people go out less in accordance with safety measures, social interaction falls to almost nothing. All at a time when family and friendships seem the most integral to one’s mental health.

In short, even without widespread cases across Watauga County, small businesses will suffer with tourism bringing in over $240 million in 2016. Presuming this an indicator of things to come for counties across America, as tourism slows so too will the national and global economy will decline  as well. 

 I will not go so far as to say that this will trigger something like a depression, but the future has reached new heights of uncertainty. As people move forward, so must the businesses that employ them and sustain them. Without a healthy and outgoing population, local businesses have no market, but without local businesses, people lose their consumptive choice—something integral to a society depending on free markets and the exchange of goods.