Bye bye, Miss American Pie

The small-business levee is dry.

Lockdown proponents across the media are smugly patting themselves on the back, proclaiming that stay-at-home policies didn’t harm the economy. Try telling that to the millions of small-business owners who were irreparably damaged by prolonged and irrational restrictions.

With many big corporations deemed “essential,” and a stock market propped up by the Federal Reserve, it’s easy to see economic strength and miss the glaring weaknesses.

While Walmart and Target continue to beat earnings expectations, small businesses struggle to survive. Nearly two-thirds of them are hitting only half or less of their pre-lockdown monthly revenue levels, according to Alignable’s June Road to Recovery report.

Then there are the businesses that never recovered at all. The Biden administration recently projected that more than 400,000 small businesses have closed permanently, but that’s likely a massive underestimate: Already by June 2020, the Hamilton Project had counted 400,000 closures. ­Opportunity ­Insights data, meanwhile, show that by the end of May 2021, there were 38.9 percent fewer small businesses open ­nationwide than at the outset of 2020.

Small business forms the US economy’s backbone, accounting for more than 99 percent of all business entities, and before 2020, around half of growth domestic product and jobs.

And these businesses bore the brunt of lockdowns. The Alignable report found that 37 percent of small businesses couldn’t pay their rent in full and on time. Millions of small-business owners have six-to-seven-figure debt liability, much of it personally guaranteed.

And as if lockdowns weren’t enough, those small firms desperately trying to save their businesses now can’t find workers, thanks in large part to government interfering in the labor market via enhanced unemployment benefits and direct stimulus payments that incentivize not working.

If the government actively set out to reward big businesses and punish small ones, how would it look any different?

This is an American tragedy. Small businesses provide economic freedom for tens of millions of people.

Which ought to make it crystal clear why it happened. We’re looking at an American tragedy right enough, but killing off small business isn’t all of it. The incremental erasure of entrepreneurship has been ongoing for years now, and is but a single component of a much larger tragedy: the end of America That Was itself.

Understand: whether it’s automobiles, single-family homes, Christianity, honest elections, speech, guns, or small businesses, there is absolutely NO aspect of freedom and self-determination they won’t try to undermine, discredit, and ultimately do away with.

Update! A small-business story that ain’t nothing but pure-tee, hunnert ‘n’ ten proof America, in all the very best ways.

BUCKSTOWN, Pa.—The Duppstadt’s Country Store, sitting high on a plateau along the Lincoln Highway between Stoystown and Reels Corner, has served Somerset County residents and weary travelers since 1903. When you open the heavy wooden door and hear it creak with age, you get the sense you have entered somewhere special.

Not because it has stayed frozen in time, but because it has stood the test of time—surviving all the winds of change while adjusting and prevailing through every decade it has stood on its perch.

From Civil War veterans stopping on their way to Gettysburg to celebrate the anniversaries marking that pivotal battle to the World War I troops on their way to the 10th Regiment of the Pennsylvania National Guard headquarters for Company C before heading to areas of conflict to today’s young families shopping for necessities, this place has seen it all.

It was here both shoppers and the owners saw Flight 93 pierce the clear blue skies on September 11, 2001, shaking the ground under them when it slammed into a field just over the hill in Shanksville.

Anyone in the store that day or next door at the Lincoln Cafe diner stood momentarily frozen at the sight of the black smoke rising from the crash. Many of those same people then rushed in their cars to the fire stations where they volunteered and were the first on the scene to help a clearly helpless situation.

The Duppstadt family is the third family to own the store since it opened in 1903, according to Mike Duppstadt, one of five siblings who co-owns the business. This store was started by the Williamson family, who operated it for a while before Jack and Helen Spangler bought it and called it the Clover Leaf Farm store. Duppstadt’s parents bought it in 1971 from the Spanglers.

As I speak to him, Mike is sitting outside the store on a long wooden bench with his sister Michelle. All five siblings have full-time jobs outside of the store. He is a contractor, she is a nurse, and they rotate shifts working at the store along with nieces and nephews.

Next door, his wife Robin and their daughter Kate are handling the kitchen of the Lincoln Cafe diner. The family just bought it in March. The cheeseburgers are arguably the best you’ll ever find, and they’ve added a bakery case in the front of the diner with sugary raised donuts that are divine.

I just bet they are at that. Somehow back in my frequent endless rides through backroads Pennsylvania, I missed this little store, but Salena Zito’s article almost makes me want to get back out on the road again for a visit. Read on, it’s good stuff.

6

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