Savannah store owner voices concerns about city’s future

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – State and national representatives are looking to help people and businesses grappling with the economic impacts of the coronavirus, distributing a $2 trillion dollar economic care package; the largest stimulus bill in U.S. history.

Business owner, Lori Collinsworth, said even with the government assistance, she thinks the “fabric of our city could never be the same.”

“Everyone started to get frightened about going out, so our revenue started to tumble our revenue went to probably about 60 percent of what we were doing and that lasted for about a week and then the stay at home order came through and then our revenue tumbled to the point that I didn’t want my shifts to come in at 3 o’clock in the morning and make the croissants and the danish because they were sitting there unsold,” the owner of Savannah Coffee Roasters stated.

Collinsworth said she let her staff go both for their safety and so they could register for unemployment—describing the hospitality industry largely being comprised of students and individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who live paycheck-to-paycheck.

“It is so devastating for jobs, for their houses, for their cars, um you know, for their families, it is. And there’s nowhere that anyone can go, you know it’s like you can’t say well, ‘let’s go to Atlanta where life will be better,’ it’s all the same,” Collinsworth relayed.

Eight years ago the local business owner said the city had a very different landscape—describing vacant buildings and rundown storefronts—all replaced by today’s bustling downtown with streets lined by local restaurants, shops, and other small businesses. Collinsworth said the future of Savannah’s local businesses could be jeopardized by high rent without the customer base to generate the revenue they need.

“I am fearful that we’ll  start to lose some of our local businesses, I mean the city has never looked so full, I mean when you walk down Broughton Street and it’s full of local businesses, but with the high rents that they have, I think that a lot of businesses will just end up closing doors,” Collinsworth remarked.

Savannah Coffee Roasters donated pastries, bread, and 40 gallons of milk to Emmaus House before they suspended their operations. The local store owner said the city will need to focus on giving in order to pull through what she believes will be several months of struggling—encouraging people to seek opportunities to support Savannah’s small business community and the people they employ.

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