By Meaghan Kaiser
Lake Placid small businesses are thriving despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lake Placid’s Main Street is a popular destination for both tourists and locals. It’s packs with small and locally owned businesses such as Mary Ballou Design, Saratoga Olive Oil Company, and Sparkle Lake Placid.
COVID-19 negatively impacted many businesses globally. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America conducted a research article about how COVID-19 impacted small businesses. They surveyed more than 5,800 small businesses about the economic impact played.
The article states “41% of businesses reported that they were temporarily closed because of COVID-19. Small businesses’ responses to our survey suggest that many are likely to fail absent financial assistance. As March 2020, 38% of businesses viewed it as unlikely or only somewhat likely that they would be open as of the end of 2020.”
Despite many small businesses hurting during the pandemic, most of Lake Placid businesses thrived last summer and throughout this year. That is because there are many more people living and visiting the area.
“I think it’s all New York State people visiting. Because it seemed that everyone left the city and they were trying to find new places to visit. And aren’t flying to Europe. They aren’t flying to Colorado. Last summer, no one was flying anywhere,” Mary Kaye Small, the owner of Sparkle Lake Placid said. “So they chose to make this a learning experience by hiking and being outdoors. They really know that this area existed before COVID.”
Although there are many more people in the area, and businesses a thriving in revenue, many places are lacking staff. Nearby every store or restaurant is hiring. Stores are operating with shorter hours. Even larger corporations such as Starbucks close early in the afternoon.
“A lot of my friends work in the restaurant businesses. They only have eight to ten workers. They work twelve-hour days and limit their business to five days a week,” Christian Roberts a Lake Placid resident said.
Lucky Curreti started working at the Saratoga Olive Oil Company this past January. The store has been open for the past eight years.
“We’ve been fortunate to have stayed open the entire time. There was a month that we were doing curbside. We are is technically grocery so we have been able to stay open which has been great,” Curreti said. “It’s challenging but it’s been manageable.”
Curreti said business during non-peak tourism summer season has been busy because of the number of people in the area.
“I feel like people from downstate, couldn’t fly anywhere to go on vacation. They all just came up here. So there has been a lot even through all of this. It’s picked up because of summer but it does not feel terribly different,” Curreti said.
Kathy Sauers, a worker at Mary Ballou Design also said it’s been busy, even with the COVID restrictions within a small store.
“Everybody was compliant with masking, distancing. We can only have about six people in our small store. Everybody across the board cooperated and just really happy to be up here, where there wasn’t disease as bad as other places. So they were just really happy.”
Because Mary Ballou Design is a small store with a small staff, they typically would close during the “shoulder” season in March and April until Memorial Day because of lack of people.
“We would close because we had literally no customer all day. But we stayed open this past year and had about 15 customers, which can make a big different to a small store,” Sauers said. “So yes, there is definitely a difference in the number of people in the area.”
Lake Placid’s Main Street’s construction did not have a negative impact on business, even with the noise and the hassle of the one way road and lack of parking.
“Even with the construction, we still had good sales and it was still busy,” Small said. “The construction company kept everything at a flow. So the traffic was one way, but you could park in different areas, depending on where they weren’t working. I think it did not affect the people coming here at all.”