What feature of the American retail landscape has disappeared in the last 10 years that was especially meaningful to you? Why do you miss this place?
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From local mom and pop stores to big chains, the retail spaces we frequent can sometimes take on an outsized role in our lives. Many of those stores have closed their doors in recent years — the product of a changing retail landscape that’s only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Victoria Reeve, a piano teacher in New Haven, Connecticut, that place was Foundry Music, an old-fashioned sheet music shop that first opened its doors in 1975. Until last year, it was one of the last-standing stores of its kind.
“It was packed with sheet music for every instrument,” Reeve said. “You could just spend hours browsing through the stuff if you were a real classical music geek. I could just get lost in the place.”
Reeve, who teaches piano at the Neighborhood Music School located next door to Foundry Music, said the shop was a source of exploration for her students.
“When you walk into that shop, it’s actually a visual to them that there’s so much music being written — and that shop doesn’t even have the half of it. But it gives them the sense of intrigue of the endless possibilities on the instrument that they’re learning,” she said.
In November, Foundry Music, like so many businesses struggling to cover costs amid pandemic disruptions, closed its storefront for good. Owner Marcia Killian is still taking online orders, and hopes to reopen a storefront some day.
“For a very long time they just kept going, doing curbside orders, and then we got the really sad news that they were closing. They just couldn’t manage any longer. And so it’s gone,” Reeve said.
“It’s something which my kids and younger generations just won’t know — which is just so sad and heartbreaking, really.”
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What do I need to know about tax season this year?
Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.
How long will it be until the economy is back to normal?
It feels like things are getting better, more and more people getting vaccinated, more businesses opening, but we’re not entirely out of the woods. To illustrate: two recent pieces of news from the Centers for Disease Control. Item 1: The CDC is extending its tenant eviction moratorium to June 30. Item 2: The cruise industry didn’t get what it wanted — restrictions on sailing from U.S. ports will stay in place until November. Very different issues with different stakes, but both point to the fact that the CDC thinks we still have a ways to go before the pandemic is over, according to Dr. Philip Landrigan, who used to work at the CDC and now teaches at Boston College.
How are those COVID relief payments affecting consumers?
Payments started going out within days of President Joe Biden signing the American Rescue Plan, and that’s been a big shot in the arm for consumers, said John Leer at Morning Consult, which polls Americans every day. “Consumer confidence is really on a tear. They are growing more confident at a faster rate than they have following the prior two stimulus packages.” Leer said this time around the checks are bigger and they’re getting out faster. Now, rising confidence is likely to spark more consumer spending. But Lisa Rowan at Forbes Advisor said it’s not clear how much or how fast.