The current COVID-19 pandemic placed many small business owners in the uncomfortable position of learning their businesses were not deemed “essential” by Gov. Kim Reynolds, who ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses to help slow the spread of COVID-19. While small business owners may have understood why their doors were ordered locked, these businesses are definitely “essential” when it comes to the livelihood of the business owners and that of their employees.
As the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, allowing most businesses to re-open with some adjustments for social distancing, significant damage has already been done that business owners are feeling today and will be dealing with for quite some time in the future.
Joyce Fagan owns Annie’s Treasures in Cascade. It’s fitting that her business is located in a former church, as Fagan fears she may not have a prayer for a full recovery.
“I lost 36 working days,” said Fagan. “It will be very hard to make up for all I lost. It was a whole season, that followed our slowest months of the year. I can only hope to have steady sales now to keep the shop going.”
She is very appreciative of her customers in the area who have worked with her to keep business going — even if just at a trickle. “I posted a lot of pictures on Facebook. I told people if there was something they saw in the pictures or if they knew of things they wanted, I would gladly meet them on the curb. I mailed out a lot of things, and I met a lot of people out in front of the shop. I’m so very thankful that I have such good followers.”
Unlike some of the images shown on television of people completely ignoring all preventative measures, Fagan is taking her re-opening slow. “This virus is very scary. I understand why we had to shut down our stores. I am praying every day that there won’t be a second shutdown. We will practice lots of safety in the shop. Masks, hand-washing, sanitizing and social distancing is a must.”
Angie Supple owns The Pink Pig, a boutique fashion store that was closed from March 17 to May 9. While the store is a second job for Supple, she still felt the financial pinch.
“We lost 30 days of our store being open and one large event. We were also supposed to open our second location in Ankeny at the end of May, and that has been delayed because of this.”
The Pink Pig has long enjoyed a strong online presence, and at least that trend continued somewhat. Supple said the business stayed connected to customers via social media and offering a larger collection online, but she added, “Ladies still like to shop in store, so it definitely wasn’t the same.”
Like Fagan, Supple said she was more than ready to re-open. “Initially I understood the need to hunker down, as there were a lot of unknowns regarding the virus and to give our healthcare system time to prepare, but I’m very glad we are able to start doing business again as I truly do think it’s time to do so.”
Supple is also implementing enhanced cleaning procedures, and stressing personal responsibility for customers to not shop when they do not feel well. She’s back in business, but she knows it’s a far cry from “business as usual.”
“Realistically it will be years,” she said of the industry’s recovery. “Not only the direct impacts it had on me having to be closed and delaying our second store project but also the fact the whole industry is going to be ‘backed up.’”
She said it is due to issues with sourcing their product, that the markets where they source seasonally are being postponed. Additionally, travel to vendors is tricky with restrictions, and there’s a big fear of shortage of product due to COVID-19 impacts along the supply chain.
Fagan and Supple are far from the only local business owners reeling from the impact of the pandemic. As Fagan said, “The small businesses in our town need local support more than ever.”