Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has forced small business owners to close their restaurants and bars for in-person service, but crowds were allowed to flock to big-box retailers on Black Friday and throughout the weekend.
Experts warn that up to a third of American small businesses may close forever, according to ABC, as governors around the nation have ordered them to curtail business. This is not to say, however, that the pandemic hasn’t created winners. Many large retailers and massive companies that have been allowed to continue operating are growing in the absence of local competition.
This economic trend played out across Minnesota this weekend as residents flocked to malls for Black Friday shopping.
Radio host Mitch Berg was early to point out this apparent discrepancy. He posted photographs of two adjacent parking lots; one was empty and the other was packed full. This is because the empty parking lot belongs to a local restaurant that Walz ordered to stop hosting guests, while the other belongs to the Eagan outlet mall, home to storefronts for several multinational corporations.
Science, Minnesota style: crowds at the Eagan outlet mall (a clump of big box National outlets), versus Jensen‘s restaurant right across the street (local standalone joint).
Remember – we’re all in it together. pic.twitter.com/8WtN8vmtuN
— Mitch "The Wałęsa Project" Berg (@mitchpberg) November 28, 2020
Other Minneapolis-based reporters also noted that large retailers were allowed to draw significant crowds. “Y’all. Mall of America is busy,” observed Nicole Norfleet of the Star Tribune.
Some Minnesotans reported on the crowds via social media, posting photos like the ones seen below.
One person even uploaded a video that appears to show a stampede of an estimated 200 shoppers rushing to buy video game systems on Black Friday at the Mall of America.
IM DEAD AT LEAST 200 PEOPLE RUSHED THE MALL OF AMERICA FOR THE PS5 and XBOX SERIES X AT GAME STOP JUST FOR THEM TO SAY THEY HAVE NO CONSOLES… AFTER WE WAITED 5+ HOURS pic.twitter.com/FLUQXW1H4w
— Nabil Yagami (Light)🧝🏾♂️ (@nabilvert) November 27, 2020
Meanwhile, many small business owners are not allowed to enjoy a similar influx of customers.
“It’s scary … I don’t have any other word,” Wendy Puckett told Fox 9 earlier this month about operating her business, Wendy’s House of Soul, in Minneapolis amid a second shutdown. “Your mind gets to spinning about not just my business, but I have a home so I have to take care about that too.”
Puckett is one of countless small business owners who are struggling to make ends meet.
Some have tried to continue operating, only to discover that the state is more than willing to penalize them. Larvita McFarquhar, owner of Haven’s Garden in Lynd, Minnesota, is currently embroiled in a struggle with a local health agency that is threatening to revoke her food service license, citing coronavirus-related violations.
Alpha News has reported on several similar stories since the beginning of the pandemic. Just days ago, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison sued a gym in Wabasha County, Minnesota, and has threatened to sue McFarquhar.