Reopening Small Businesses: Barclay Rex Smoke Shop is Fired Up

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New York City's Financial District is starting to show signs of a local economy that is reopening. Small businesses have been the most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and will have the greatest challenges recouping losses.

Barclay Rex, founded in 1910 is the oldest cigar and pipe tobacco shop in New York City. Now in its fourth generation of family ownership, the business has endured many economic cycles and the past year is certainly one for the books.

Small businesses like Barclay Rex, which depended mostly on walk-in customers were particularly hard-hit with the normally busy streets emptied of foot traffic.

In 2020, the store quickly pivoted to storefront pickup and online sales using social media for promotion but the loss of walk-in business was dramatic. A vital part of the business is a member's club where smokers can socialize in a private lounge.  

But Sales Manager Sal Berritto is optimistic that a rebound is underway, "We've seen the worst year in the history of economics for our country. But hopefully, businesses will come back. Hopefully, people are getting sick of working at home."

A comeback will be slow and difficult but for a business that has survived in Manhattan for over a century, it's a marathon, not a sprint.

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