Downtown areas affected by pandemic, but some changes are positive

Joplin Area Coronavirus

JOPLIN, Mo. — Pandemic restrictions on the economy could lead to a significant change in which businesses survive another year, and which close for good.

But what does that mean for Main Street in Joplin?

Erik Bartlett, with The Runaround in downtown, said, “We had that period we were closed and we had to stay in front of our customers.”

The store is celebrating ten years in business this year, but they’re not hitting that milestone the way Erik Bartlett thought.

“It changed the way we communicate with customers, how we stay in front of them.”

It prompted them to open an online store, which Bartlett says was a good idea that he’ll keep.

But he is just down the street from Instant Karma, a restaurant that didn’t survive.

It’s a potential trend that prompted a national Main Street group to survey businesses across the country.

Lori Haun, Downtown Joplin Alliance, said, “And they’re anticipating 25 – 30 percent of small businesses will close within the year, just because of the complications that will arise from this.”

Lori Haun with the Downtown Joplin Alliance says it’s not unique to Main Street, but a concern for any small business owner who may also be juggling other issues.

“With the uncertainty and with not knowing where we’re going and how the sales are going to be and stuff like that, it’s time to make a change.”

Also the case for “The Runaround,” but, in this case, it’s a good change.

He’s planning to expand to non-athletic footwear with a second downtown store called Bartlett’s Shoe Company.

Erik Bartlett, The Runaround: “A lot of people would say it would be a bad idea. I, I’m always optimistic. I think it’s the best time to do it,” said Bartlett.

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