Breaking News Bar

Chester chamber director says times are tough, but shop owners have stamina

  • A deserted State Street on Tuesday, with Jodie's Farmhouse and Bakery closed to the right.

    A deserted State Street on Tuesday, with Jodie's Farmhouse and Bakery closed to the right.
    Gwendy Garner photo

  • Chester's municipal block on Swanwick Street is very quiet on Tuesday.

    Chester's municipal block on Swanwick Street is very quiet on Tuesday.
    Gwendy Garner photo

 
By Renee Trappe
rtrappe@localsouthernnews.com
updated: 3/25/2020 2:16 PM

From her perch in the Chester's Welcome Center, Linda Sympson can see thousands of vehicles crossing the Chester bridge each normal weekday. Some are coming to work in Chester, others are just passing through to jobs in other communities.

Today, what she sees looks like a ghost town.

"Our streets are dead," Sympson said Tuesday morning. "This morning, there was no traffic at all," she added, both on the bridge and in downtown Chester.

Like other communities all over the United States, Chester's small businesses are feeling something more than a pinch. Shoppers are confined at home, and when they go out, it's to go to already-overcrowded stores in search of basic necessities.

And that pass-through traffic -- which buys gas and coffee and breakfast on weekday mornings -- has dried up.

"Walmart, Dollar General, our convenience stores, Motor Mart, Rozier's ... they are all slammed," Sympson said. She can't find a package of toilet paper, either, and is grateful some stores are starting to limit how much paper goods customers can buy at one time.

"But I cannot see that many people are going to shop for a new car, or for clothes," she added.

Sympson, however, said she has a good feeling about Chester's small businesses, and their ability to survive this downturn.

"They are owned by local people," she said, "many of them one- or two-person shops.

"They have a lot of stamina and I believe they will get through this. They have loyal fan bases."

Sympson urges Chester residents to double down on shopping local.

"As soon as this ban is lifted and these shops, stores and restaurants open, support them. Get out and do business there," she said.

"We need to do everything we can do when this ban is lifted."