Bureau of Programming

Can Small Towns Survive Post-Retail?

Rachel Abrams and Robert Gebeloff, reporting for the New York Times, on Johnstown, PA facing an economic era after manufacturing and retail:

But fewer people can afford his products now that the good jobs are long gone, and Mr. Apryle has had to make adjustments.

A cash-for-gold sign hangs in the window. He started selling knickknacks on eBay. Eventually, he stopped wearing a tie.

“I might as well be comfortable,” Mr. Apryle, 46, said, gesturing to his wrinkled T-shirt and tennis shoes. “There’s no one here to impress.”

While local retailers were never going to prevent the decline of small towns, they surely helped stem the economic bleeding. Even in a soon-to-be era of telework, most of these towns seem doomed to die in our generation. The few that will survive will be sufficiently niche—think Marfa, TX or Oxford, MS—to continue to lure tourists, creatives, and the wealthy who bring in outside money.

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