The Atlantic - Harmony Audio
For 45 years, Harmony Audio Video, has been my dad’s life: the reason he left home early every day, the reason he was chronically late to pick me up from school, the reason he didn’t take a single vacation for 25 years. Growing up, the store was my life too.
More than 400,000 small businesses have closed since the start of the pandemic and many thousands more are at risk, according to the Brookings Institution–affiliated Hamilton Project. Mom-and-pop stores across the country are liquidating, breaking their leases, putting up handwritten goodbyes. If you listened to American politicians, you might think the government lavishes support on small businesses. But that has long been more rhetoric than reality
How many of these businesses will eventually be replaced, and what will be lost if they aren’t? It’s easy to compare prices. It’s harder to put a value on the cranky independence of small-business owners, or their collective importance to community spirit and even the American idea. “What astonishes me in the United States is not so much the marvelous grandeur of some undertakings as the innumerable multitude of small ones,” Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1835.My dad, so happy to be back, acted like he’d never told me that he was folding up shop. He was in retail (bad), but the products he was selling were for the home (good). For now, for at least a little while longer, he’d be cranking up the volume in the sound room, where he belonged
Text by Francesca Mari, read the full story here
Photographed for The Atlantic in San Francisco, CA