HESPERIA, MICH. — All of West Michigan has been hit hard by COVID-19, but that's especially true for our small towns, with small local economies.
In Hesperia, Michigan, that rings true. The owners of the local diner Daniel's decided to retire, after a long and difficult 2020. The youngest Trustee on the Village Board says there's no telling when it'll find a new owner.
“COVID-19 has hit us hard. We lost a staple of our community...with Daniel’s. It’s just unfortunate timing...that they were retiring and closing down the business,” Hesperia Trustee Sara Kies-Walker said.
But this town isn't giving up. The snowman in Daniel's parking lot proves that to be true.
“It’s not a buyer's market right now. Nobody wants to come into a small town like ours and put a restaurant up that could fail. So it’s difficult to watch,” Kies-Walker said.
For Village President Mike Farber, it's difficult to watch.
“We’ve been struggling. Businesses haven’t…we’ve lost businesses. None have come back. We’re trying to be very proactive about bringing business in,” Hesperia Village President Mike Farber said.
Farber has called Hesperia home for his whole life.
“It’s a beautiful little community,” Farber said.
He says they've actually had a few businesses open up during the pandemic. One, a new barbershop, to replace the old one that shuttered due to COVID shutdowns in early 2020.
“We’ve always had a barber,” Farber said.
No one knows how hard it is to stay in business in a small town quite like Trustee Jackie Slocum. Slocum opened up a small retail shop in downtown Hesperia in 2019.
Her business: seasonal, because the old building she rents doesn't have heat. Now, her store, the Lazy Daisy, sits vacant. She wasn't able to open this summer.
“There were restrictions on how many people you can have per square foot,” Slocum said. "My shop is so small, it would only allow me to have one and a half people in at a time…and that’s including myself."
If this problem seems small, it's not. It's one many communities across West Michigan are feeling.
“They are struggling. We try to stay local. Everyone is trying to take precautions to get over this. It’s just a small town,” Farber said.
Click here to support local businesses that are still open.