cover image Saving Main Street: Small Business in the Time of Covid-19

Saving Main Street: Small Business in the Time of Covid-19

Gary Rivlin. Harper Business, $29.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-306596-3

Journalist Rivlin (Katrina) presents an illuminating account of how several small businesses weathered the Covid-19 pandemic. Rivlin introduces readers to TJ Cusumano, owner of an Italian restaurant in Old Forge, Pa.; Glenda Shoemaker, who runs a card and gift shop in Tunkhannock, Pa.; and the Maloney family, founders of a chocolate business in New York City, among others. They all faced tough decisions, such as having to lay off employees and find ways to pay mortgages and vendors, as well as dealing with the pain of potentially losing their life’s work. Rivlin shows his subjects’ struggles to keep afloat, as when Cusumano established a “pop-up market” to sell food supplies before they spoiled, and when the Maloneys slashed prices in an attempt to boost sales. Rivlin also highlights problems that small businesses have faced for decades, which made them especially vulnerable when the pandemic hit. In particular, he writes of how large corporations crush small businesses by offering low prices their competitors can’t, and how the Small Business Administration often enacts plans “rigged in favor of the large and dominant” (2020’s Paycheck Protection Program among them). This one’s full of insight and shrewd reporting. Agent: Elizabeth Kaplan, Elizabeth Kaplan Literary. (Oct.)