By Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor
T.M. Ward Coffee Company is a 145-year-old family owned business in the heart of Newark. It’s located just a block from two federal buildings so the bulk of the customers are federal employees. But most of them haven’t been around since the partial government shutdown took effect last week. Scott Sommer, president of sales, says it’s starting to take a toll.
“It’s been kind of like a ghost town to be honest with you. The afternoon’s a little because people are out. But each day this week I definitely think it’s getting slower,” Sommer said. “Our business on the road is even slow too because places are closed that we service, government wise too.”
Foot traffic has also been light at other area businesses. Stephen Dale, who owns Queen Pizza and Deli, says he’s normally packed at lunch time, but not lately.
“It’s definitely been a bit slower. Hopefully coming to a conclusion soon. We’re all hoping,” Dale said.
Making matters worse, says Sommer, the economy has yet to fully bounce back.
“It’s not good timing because the economy hasn’t been good. We’re running huge coffee sales now to get the people in,” Sommers said. “At least to maintain it. And that helps.”
It’s not just businesses located near federal buildings that are taking a financial hit. Companies that contract with the federal government and provide services such as office cleaning and security have also been impacted.
One example is FJC Security Services, which has numerous government contracts. Among them, the Statue of Liberty.
“You’re put in a position where you may or may not be able to continue to employ people who provide our service and obviously when you’re talking close to 1,000 people nationally, you run into — depending on how long the furlough extends — if you will be in a position to collect on your bills and pay on invoices and all those sorts of things,” Vice President of FJC Security Matthew Horace said.
And with no clear resolution brewing yet out of Washington, merchants are a bit nervous.
“Yeah it’s getting old. And each day I think it’s getting a little bit worse. Not treacherous,” Sommer said.
Not treacherous, but it’s certainly taking a bite out of profits.