Local businesses navigate pandemic
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It hasn’t been business as usual for local businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Some businesses, such as restaurants, are struggling but some businesses have seen a boom in business.
Southwest Builder Supply is one such business and their doors are open.
“We are staying very busy and our employees are extremely exhausted at the end of the week,” said co-owner Debbie Murphy. “It is a bittersweet moment, we really appreciate the business.”
Hardware stores have seen an uptick in business with people coming in for supplies for projects they may not have been able to get done due to work.
“We’ve seen a lot of people from surrounding communities and a lot of Sun Valley residents,” said Murphy. “A lot of people from Des Moines have come to their places at Sun Valley and are working on projects they have ongoing.”
With the doors still open, Southwest Builders are taking precautions to limit the spread of the coronavirus in their store. Wiping down counters, doors and even their phones has added a little extra duty for employees who are also gathering supplies and answering questions for customers.
“Sales are up,” said Murphy. “We have already paid out vendors which we usually do in the summer and are needing more stock, we just can’t seem to get it fast enough.”
Another business in Mount Ayr that has seen increased sales is NAPA Autoparts, despite moving to an online and curbside only business.
“Business hasn’t really slowed down,” said owner Rick Bender. “We are seeing people we have never seen before and cars from other states.”
NAPA has closed their doors to customers, but still offer online sales and will bring you the parts that you need, which has caused the employees to adapt to a new sales style. The credit card machine has been moved to the front of the store and employees must now walk from the back to the outside to deliver the correct parts for customers.
“We are walking a lot more steps,” said Bender. “Sometimes they aren’t sure of the part they need and we go outside five times or more before we get them the correct part. They can’t bring us the part inside anymore like they used to.”
While a few businesses are seeing more customers than normal, it isn’t that way for all Mount Ayr businesses.
Country Blossoms, a floral shop, has really seen a hit in business.
“We are missing a lot of school events,” said owner Angie Glendenning. “We are non-essential but we can still deliver and most people may not understand that while our storefront isn’t open, we are still doing business.”
Prom is a big event for Country Blossoms. Mount Ayr Community Schools recently postponed prom, which means a large chunk of her floral business as well.
“It’s a challenge for everybody,” said Glendenning. “I have enough daily business to keep going and if I can put a smile on someones face, it’s worth it.”
Another type of business that is seeing a major hit is salons and barbers. Their businesses have been deemed non-essential and have closed their doors as they wait out the pandemic.
Renae Still, of Still ‘N Style in Mount Ayr, has seen her business suffer.
“I will have been closed for a month and a half on April 30,” said Still. “I have walked four people through cuts they have been doing on cousins and siblings. If I tried to go to someone’s home and cut their hair, I could lose my license.”
Still has found it hard to receive unemployment benefits as a sole proprietor as well.
“I have filled out the paperwork more than once and been denied,” said Still. “I have applied for the grants too but haven’t received any of that either.”
Still also mentioned her products, such as color, can go bad and she will have to spend money when she opens back up just to restock her supplies that expired.
One silver lining for Still has been spending time with her kids.
“I have enjoyed being home with the kids,” said Still, “That is the plus side.”
The date being pushed back on closures has also made it difficult for Still ‘N Style.
“It’s so hard to reschedule clients when they continue to push the date back,” said Still. “ I think if I could do one-on-one and sanitizing between each client I wouldn’t be any different than other businesses that are still open.”
Still does stress that clients should wait for their stylists and not cut their own hair or their friends.
“Please let us cut your hair. We all look horrible right now even me,” said Still. “Please wait for your stylist.”