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Small Towns In A Slow Economy

October 14, 2008, 7:21 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Small Towns In A Slow Economy
Small town South Dakota can only hope the national problems get fixed before the full impact of a slow economy trickles down to Main Street. Business owners in small times face challenges during normal economic times, much less hard ones. 

Just to break even, the Strand Theater, lining the streets of downtown Britton, needs to bring in $800 a weekend. 

"That's about what we take in if it's good,” Pam Lunzman said. “If it's a really bad weekend and not so great movie, we could bring in $300 to $400 and lose money.” 

In other words, there is not much wiggle room for the business if times get tough. Lunzman does the theater’s books and says it's open because businesses in town sponsor it and the owner pumps in money from his other businesses to keep it running. 

Lining the other side of Britton’s downtown street is Dizzy Blondz. 

"We try and buy products that are affordable to keep them with in what our customers will pay," Kelsi Heer said. 

The boutique sells purses, hand-made jewelry and basically anything else related. Business is fine for now but the shop cannot afford to lose too much as it tries to expand beyond its local customers. 

"Built a Web page that's up now and running, just have to figure out how to market it so people from the broader area can find it on the internet," Heer said. 

The small-town theater across the street could use the extra traffic too. While its movies are a little older, the tickets are also cheaper, so even a tough economic time could help business. 

"Well, we hope that it would entice people to stay in the community more instead of driving away to go to the bigger communities such as Aberdeen to see the movies," Lunzman said. 

And give the Strand a better chance of, at least, breaking even. 

Two businesses in downtown Britton have closed recently. The businesses owners we talked with say that hurts them as well because they helped attract people to town.

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