50-mile Cruise through Orleans County on May 16 will highlight small businesses

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 May 2020 at 1:29 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: Adam Johnson has this sign at 39 Problems in Albion. He looks forward to when his business can reopen.

HOLLEY – A 50-mile trip throughout Orleans County on May 16 will highlight small businesses in the community, and their tenuous condition as many have been shut down or severely limited due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Adam Johnson, owner of the 39 Problems bar and restaurant in Albion, is organizing the “Cruisin’ Main Street” event.

He welcomes all small businesses and farms to join on the ride that begins 9 a.m. in Holley at the Business Park off Route 31. (Participants are urged to arrive about 8:30 to begin lining up.)

The route will go from Holley to Kendall, along Route 18 to Carlton and then south on Route 98 to Albion. The caravan then heads west to Medina and ends in Lyndonville. Johnson expects the trip will take about 2 hours.

“I feel like a lot of the small businesses aren’t getting enough attention from Albany,” Johnson said today.

He sees Main Street business districts, which include family-owned businesses, largely shut down. Meanwhile the corporate retailers seem to be flourishing and can’t keep their shelves stocked.

“You can go to big box stores but not the mom and pop stores,” Johnson said. “It seems backwards.”

Johnson has been closed since late March. He supports the state going on PAUSE, and closing many of the businesses while the virus was spreading in the state.

But he said the state and country know more about the virus now, and hospitals are now better equipped with personal protective equipment and other supplies.

“We bought extra time,” Johnson said. “We can take precautions. We can do it safely. We have to start somewhere. We have to take the first step forward.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has the state on PAUSE until May 15. Some regions may be given permission to reopen in phase 1, which includes manufacturing and construction. If the number of hospitalizations and infections don’t increase, the regions can move to the next phase out of four phases.

As a restaurant, Johnson might not be given the OK until phase 3 or 4. He worries about his own income, and also for his employees. Some of them have told him they haven’t received any unemployment or a federal stimulus check. They are borrowing money from friends and family to get by.

The caravan on May 16 is intended to raise awareness about small businesses in Orleans County, and how critical they are to employing many people and providing much needed revenue for the local governments.

“Bring your car, motorcycle, truck, Jeep, tractor, whatever to show your love,” Johnson posted on Facebook on Thursday. “Small businesses, bring your work vehicle, show off who you are and what you do!”

He saw the popularity of a similar event on April 5 in Genesee County. Bruce Scofield of Scofield Roll-Off organized the Corona Convoy that included 160 truckers.

The May 16 event starts in Holley with vehicles urged to line up on Maziarz Drive in Holley. Johnson urges people to be out along the route to wave and show their support (while practicing social distancing). Participants can join for the entire 50 miles or for shorter stretches.

The route will pass by the nursing homes in Albion (The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center on Route 31) and in Medina (Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center on Bates Road). Johnson also hopes some of the vehicle can pass by Medina Memorial Hospital. He wants to show support for healthcare workers.

Johnson is working with local officials to finalize a route for the 50-mile trip. A map will be posted soon on the 39 Problems Facebook page.

A tractor with disc equipment to get fields ready for planting heads north on Main Street in Albion on Thursday evening. Farmers are welcome to be part of Cruisin’ Main Street.