ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Small business owners in college towns across the U.S. are hoping for the best when students return — and bracing for the worst.

That includes the owners of the bars, restaurants and other retailers on South University Avenue near the University of Michigan, which have been hit hard financially since the COVID-19 pandemic sent tens of thousands of their customers back home in mid-March.

Those that have been able to withstand the exodus thus far are praying they can hang on long enough to still be standing when business as usual resumes and are scrambling for new strategies.

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