Millions of small businesses have closed over the last year due to Covid-19. In a study conducted by Yelp, an estimated 800 new businesses were closed each day from March through August of 2020.
Several locally owned businesses within the Leeville area have shut down as well. Some of the many businesses include Popes Cleaners, TC Artworks, and 30 Pounds 30 Days weight loss. These are three different businesses previously located in the Leesville Towne Shopping Center on Strickland Road.
TC Artworks was a local small business that shared the love of making art with people of all ages. But when Covid-19 began, Tamara Clark, owner of TC Artworks, had to move her business from the Leesville Town Center shopping center to her own home due to slow business. Even afterward, with very little business, Clark shut down TC Artworks altogether. In a final message to her customers, Clark said, “My business never recovered from the mandatory 4 month shut down last March and then the mandatory number of students I could have in my space.”
I had gotten to speak to Clark on how her business suffered from COVID-19. Clark mentioned how hard it was to keep people interested in her art business. “I depleted all my savings and my retirement trying to keep my doors open,” said Clark.
One business many locals in the Triangle know is Jellybeans Skating Center. In elementary school, I remember so many birthday parties being held at the Wakefield location on Common Oaks Drive. The roller rink holds so many memories to me, and I’m sure it does for many others in North Carolina. Jellybeans Skating Center has permanently closed all locations after nearly 25 years of business
The Corporate World
Even corporate businesses have filed bankruptcy and closed many of their locations. Here are several corporations with local stores that have closed.
Stein Mart was a discount clothing store primarily situated in the Southeastern part of the United States. Over the last decade, with the growing use of online shopping, the business began to decline.
Stein Mart filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in August, blaming the pandemic for its financial distress and collapse. The chain had 2279 stores nationwide, and over 9000 employees, all of which announced to permanently close after the business filed for bankruptcy. In a USA Today report, said “We anticipate all stores will close by the fourth quarter of 2020, with closing dates varying by store.” One of these locations was situated in Stonehenge Market on Creedmoor Road.
Brooks Brothers, a retail store that specializes in business clothing, first opened in 1818. The business was largely successful in the last 200 years, expanding to have 424 retail stores globally; they even tailored for presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Woodrow Wilson, and Theodore Roosevelt inauguration suits. When the pandemic hit, this centuries-old international business suffered, as the need for tailored work suits diminished. Brooks Brothers have since closed 51 of their US locations since filing for bankruptcy. The location at Crabtree Mall has yet to close.
Food First; Bravo and Brio restaurants parent company
Food First Global Holdings, the parent company of restaurant chains Bravo Cucina Italiano and Brio Tuscan Grille, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 10. Food First acquired the brands in 2018, but as of May 2020, the bankrupt corporation agreed to sell. Brio Tuscan Grill had a location at Crabtree Valley Mall, which has since been permanently closed at the beginning of quarantine.
JCPenney was a retail store that was founded almost a century ago. Along with many other former large corporate retail stores, JCPenney has been on a decline since the rise in competition with online businesses. The business had already begun to shut down several locations before Covid-19 due to the growing presence of the online shopping experience. They filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in May and has since shut down several more of its stores, including their location in the North Hills Shopping Center on Six Forks Road.
Pier 1 Imports
Home goods retail store, Pier 1 Imports, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2020. Pier 1 operated over 900 stores nationwide. The company announced in May that it plans to start a wind-down of business as soon as possible. Their location in Brier Creek was one of the stores that have been shut down.
During times where small businesses can’t keep their doors open, it’s important to keep supporting them. Many people spend their whole lives trying to build the business they dreamed of, and the pandemic has certainly crushed many of those businesses.