Local Workers in The Dark

by Ishani Ghosh ’23

Source: CafeMerica

Published Dec. 23rd, 2020

Small businesses throughout Montgomery Township have been affected by the pandemic since it began in March. Coffee shops and cleaning businesses are barely a fraction of the small businesses that are trying to recover from the pandemic. 

Robert, the owner of CafeMerica, a small coffee shop located on Belle Mead-Griggstown Road, described how the pandemic had drastically affected his sales. “After we re-opened at the end of May, it was very tough to meet our expenses. We were getting five orders a day.” 

He explained that prior to the pandemic, the shop had been open for only a month or so. He said that business had been going well, but the pandemic changed that. “When we first opened at the end of February of this year, a lot of people came and sat inside and did work… It was a happening place. Unfortunately, this lasted only for two weeks and we had to close for two months due to the pandemic.”

Robert explained that his inspiration for the store had come from his roots. “I always felt that coffee brings people together. It is a nice social thing to do. I come from a culture that loved coffee and drank it all the time. As far as the menu goes, I wanted to add more than just a coffee, so we can have something for everyone.”

Many other small businesses have also been affected, including Leticia’s Cleaning Service. Beginning as a small, family-owned business, this business quickly spread into other townships. 

The owner, Heber, said that before the pandemic, their business was growing quickly and what began as a slow business quickly became an expanding one. “[The business] was growing fast and we came to have 18 workers and we were cleaning around 30 houses a day.” However, after the pandemic began, their work slowed and they were forced to halt their entire business temporarily. “At first our whole business stopped during the beginning of the pandemic, we stopped working.”

He also said that he and his employees often felt uneasy entering homes to clean them, as they were not sure if the homeowners had taken any precautions. “Yes we did feel like that when the pandemic was in process and since we started to work slowly again we learned that we could protect ourselves by taking the right precautions.” 

Now with the vaccine on schedule to be available to the general public in the next two to three months, these businesses might finally be able to get back on their feet. However, until then, these businesses are finding ways to continue expanding and keep optimizing their resources.

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