The Rebound of CRLS’s Favorite Businesses

Businesses+around+CRLS+are+once+again+reopening+and+being+patronized+by+students.

Eman Abdurezak

Businesses around CRLS are once again reopening and being patronized by students.

Jeremiah Barron, Contributing Writer

We’ve all heard of the economic impacts that lockdowns have had on small businesses, but just how bad was it, and how have local businesses managed to rebound in recent weeks?

A Facebook-conducted study of over 35,000 businesses found that as of February, 22% of small businesses had to temporarily close due to COVID-19 concerns and regulations. In Massachusetts, this figure is over 30%. On top of the restrictions being detrimental to business owners, employees of these businesses felt the effects as well. Over a quarter of small businesses had to reduce the number of employees, and nearly half of these businesses had to cut their workforce by 50% or more.

In Cambridge, the pandemic profoundly impacted local businesses—especially those reliant on students to drive their revenue. Harvard Market, the beloved convenience store on Cambridge Street, is one of these businesses. The owner of the bodega, Mo Hamza, shared that the “school, hospitals, and the neighborhood… the area itself” all played a part in him starting his business. So when the pandemic hit, it “was very bad for the business, like everybody else.” He says, “All these businesses, they have gone through a really hard time. It was hard for us because, like I said, we rely on the high school and the Harvard students.” 

As the pandemic nears its end, businesses are starting to reap the benefits, but not as much as they were expecting.”

On the other side of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School campus, Broadway Marketplace shares these same hardships. George Hickey, a current manager who has been employed at the market for 26 years, told the Register Forum, “Both [the] high school and the Harvard students are predominantly our clientele.” When the pandemic hit, “It killed us, literally一half our business at least.” June through August is when Broadway usually takes a hit on customers, as Harvard and CRLS students are not present. Hickey says, “The whole time we were in the pandemic, we were running below summer numbers that we would normally run.” 

Down Broadway, Angelo’s Pizza was forced to close for three months after the owner was hospitalized with a severe case of COVID-19. When asked for an interview, they responded, “There isn’t much to say, there was no business.”

As COVID restrictions start to relax, CRLS is reopening in-person learning, and local businesses are starting to see an increase in customers. Hamza says “We’ve noticed business is picking up a little bit, not like the way it used to be before, but at least better than when the pandemic hit.” Hickey agrees: “Since [high schoolers] have come back, [we have noticed an increase in customers] … but, it’s not as much as we need or would like.” This seems to be the general consensus. As the pandemic nears its end, businesses are starting to reap the benefits, but not as much as they were expecting.

Hickey believes this is because “Everyone is still concerned about the pandemic, and people aren’t sure what to do yet, none of us really know what’s okay and what’s not.” Still, Hickey remains optimistic. He explained, “You guys being back in school will help us for the next three or four weeks while you’re here, and it will give us an idea of what we’re gonna be able to do in September.”