Lack of proms

Laurie Freysinger, owner of Harmony Formals, adjusts a tuxedo on display in her shop.

Proms — normally one of the hallmarks of the school year — have been canceled by school districts across the state in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

While a disappointment to many students, the loss of prom also has major repercussions to the bottom line for some local businesses, adding a further financial dent into what has already been a difficult year.

“It’s a huge hit — it’s really a huge hit to someone who does tuxedo rentals as their main source of income,” said Laurie Freysinger, owner of Harmony Formals.

Although Harmony Formals offers many other products, including novelty clothing, gifts and even music equipment, tuxedo rentals make up the majority of the store’s income for the entire year, according to Freysinger. Most of those tuxedoes get rented for prom, usually making May the busiest time of year for the store.

“It is a really severe loss,” Freysinger said. “I mean it — everything. Tuxedos are my business, and without them, I have nothing.”

While Freysinger said she has heard of some possible plans to hold proms during the summer, she has concerns over whether people still will be willing to rent a tuxedo. With many residents having lost their jobs during the pandemic, some may not have the funds needed to afford such a luxury.

Freysinger has had orders placed for tuxedoes for a few weddings planned for the summer. However, she is concerned whether a second virus surge might take place as the county opens up more, potentially threatening those ceremonies and losing her out on even more revenue.

Freysinger has been successful in obtaining some help through financial assistance programs. However, she does not qualify for many of them, as she is the only employee at her store.

While she has enough funds to remain open for around half the year, Freysinger said things will become difficult come June and December, and she may have to cut back on some of the novelty items she stocks if she can’t find another source of funds. Until then, she’s trying to come up with some product to sell to bring people in.

“Because there’s a whole lot of money that has to be made up without the tuxedoes,” she said.

Freysinger is hopeful the community remembers her when buying gifts and can lend support where they can. She says that some frequent customers have been bringing in clothes for her to repair as a way to help

Another industry feeling the financial sting are flower stores. Travis Crytzer, owner of Loeffler’s Flower Shop and Blossoms and Blooms Boutique said that although prom flowers are not as popular as they once were, not having any orders represented a definite loss in business.

“We would be doing upwards of 40 or 50 corsages and boutonnieres (per school),” Crytzer said.

On top of proms, Cryzter has seen many other summer events canceled that are usually money makers. Dance recitals and graduation ceremonies have been canceled, while weddings have been scaled back. Crytzer was fortunately allowed to reopen in time for Mother’s Day, which provided a major boost after the weeks away.

Despite the difficulties, Cryzter said he remains optimistic about the future. He’s seen a strong response from the community since reopening, and hopes that people might send flowers as a gift to other people while remaining separated by the pandemic.

“I’m a very optimistic and positive person, as I keep saying,” he said. “Loeffler’s is approaching our 100-year anniversary, so the store has weathered many storms and I’m confident we’ll weather this storm and come out stronger in the end.”

Sean P. Ray can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at sray@meadvilletribune.com.

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