More than 12,000 U.S. stores have closed in 2020 alone reported by CoStar Group. Novato stores, among others, continue to shut down mainly due to both the pandemic, and other factors including rent being too high, revenues being down, taxes, and overpriced items.
Art Zorro, an art supply store, permanently closed at the beginning of the year due to a decrease in sales and with online shopping taking control of the retail world.
“At Christmas people actually came into the store, took pictures of the goods, and started talking about the prices on Amazon right in front of me,” Art Zorro owner Tracie Lirette said.
An infographic made by Digital Commerce 360, a business that tracks hundreds of sales and performances of different e-commerce companies, revealed that consumers spent $861.02 billion online in the U.S in 2020. This shows a 44% increase in online sales from 2019.
“They didn’t buy anything,” Lirette said. “At that moment I realized the jig was up. It wouldn’t get better soon, and I knew it. I had to admit the truth. I had to move on.”
A survey from the Novato Chamber of Commerce Stores showed business revenues decreased over 50-75% in 2020 compared to the previous year. Brick and Mortar stores, like Art Zorro, were especially being targeted by these closings. CEO Coy Smith of the Novato Chamber of Commerce focuses on how businesses are doing economically. Smith found that the businesses most subjected to closing were mostly stores accustomed to walk-in customers.
“Restaurants, fitness centers, beauty and personal care services, and retail were all hit very hard the past year – they are the most vulnerable,” Smith said.
A Novato business that relied on profit from walk-in customers, the Starbucks on San Marin Dr, was closed on February 1st and the space it left is currently empty. Senior Yazeed Hamami was a Starbucks employee there for three years and decided to leave to focus on his schoolwork.
“I’m upset that the store closed, especially because a lot of people were probably affected financially, like my co-workers and the surrounding businesses,” Hamami said.
The Starbucks, two blocks away, was popular among students at San Marin. Students and staff would go there after school or during lunch and use it as a place to hang out.
“I’m going to miss being able to walk with my friends and grab lunch together super close by,” junior Alexis Reich said.
Starbucks was also popular because of the community it created. Multiple old and new San Marin students worked there along with clubs being held there.
“One thing I really liked about that particular Starbucks was its community,” Geometry and fundamental math teacher Kim Laboezzeta said.
In a study from First Round, an investing company, about 80% of originators of businesses detailed building a community of clients is as critical to their commerce. 28% portrayed it as their canal and doorway to their success.
“On my way to work I would stop there, and you would see other teachers along with, maybe two, maybe five different people that worked at our school kinda all doing the same thing and it just made that sense of community,” Laboezzeta said.
With the increase of stores closing in Novato, the soccer store, All Season Soccer closed on Mar. 31st.
“It is closing due to the restrictions on youth sports, due to COVID-19,” All Season Soccer owner Peter Serchia said.
Serchia plans on looking for a smaller place where he can sell soccer essentials like cleats, socks, shorts, soccer balls, or shin guards rather than mugs or replica jerseys.
“Going to look for a smaller space, to continue to do and provide things that they use on the field,” Serchia said. “For instance, we’re going to provide uniforms and equipment, cutting out all the other stuff and focusing solely on what’s on the field.”
Sophomore Waldon Diaz was one of the many soccer players that went to the store for new gear and was displeased with the store closing.
“It was important to me because I had a local soccer store to go to if I needed to buy anything for myself like shin guards or socks, ” Diaz said. “I feel bad about it closing because it was a close and convenient soccer store.”
All Season Soccer is in the works of being replaced with a tanning salon called Island Glow. The tanning salon was previously in a smaller area near All Season Soccer, but decided to move into the bigger space.
“It would be nice for everything to go back to normal, and for COVID to stop killing people,” Serchia said. “Stores opening would be awesome, but having everyone healthy and safe and not die, I think would be better.”