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Watching businesses in West St. Paul shift and adapt to the coronavirus shutdown is both sobering and heartening.
It’s sobering because we’re seeing the impact of economic anxiety and shutdowns coming to life in our own neighborhoods. And it’s heartening because sometimes, against all odds, people do wonderful things.
A number of businesses are having to shift their practices. For many restaurants with closed dining rooms, that means pivoting to takeout and delivery. Running food out to idling cars has become standard practice.
We’ve tried to keep a running list of some of those coronavirus changes, but here are some highlights:
- Amore Coffee added delivery and a takeout window—literally. They’re taking orders through an open window on Annapolis. They’re also offering $1 kids meals and opening even earlier at 5:30 a.m.—and extending their employee discount for that early hour.
- Pace’s Tire and Service Center offered ‘no contact’ service and even offered their customers free pick up and drop off of their vehicles.
- Legacy American Martial Arts has closed their studio but gone online with instructional videos on YouTube and classes streamed on Facebook Live.
- Picture Perfect Art & Frame launched a coloring contest. While not exactly a change to normal business, it’s a fun response and way to engage those kids stuck at home. Plus, it’s healing to scroll through the artwork (much better than “doom surfing” on social media).
- Pollo Campero is offering a free meal to uniformed emergency workers.
- Cherokee Service is going a step further and offering free oil changes to out-of-work food service employees on March 24 and 25.
- Beirut Restaurant turned their waitstaff into delivery drivers, and reported being busy the day before the closures started and now recommends calling early with supper time orders because of the rush of calls they get (read our interview with owner John Khoury).
These are just a few examples. Many businesses have changed their hours and added delivery—though not all are as busy as Beirut. Support your local businesses if you can.
Some businesses have had to completely close in the face of government mandates for health and safety. That can be crippling to a business, whether they’ve been open for decades or days.
Sola Salon Studios is in a similar situation. They just opened in January, renting space to about 40 independent businesses that offer the kind of beauty services that were included in the governor’s mandated shutdown. But they’re not just closing, they’re helping.
“Our promise was as long as the closure is in place they’re not going to pay rent,” Sola Salon Studios co-owner Erin Elgin told KSTP. “We’ll keep doing that, we’ll tighten things up on our end.”
It’s a big cost, but Elgin said they’re committed to doing it through the shutdown.
“We’re willing to take a major personal hit to help our studio owners provide for the long term,” she said. Elgin said 90% of their renters are female business owners and many are mothers. “If they can’t work their livelihood is completely gone, just like that,” she said.
“These are strange days folks. As we prepare to close the doors tonight at 5, I just wanted to say that we love and appreciate everyone that has been so supportive of the bar and our staff, not just the recent days but these last few years. We can genuinely say that you’ve become so much more than customers to us, and we truly consider you friends and family.”
(Tappers did open temporarily on Friday, March 20 to sell frozen pizzas.)
Hang in There
Perhaps the most encouraging words came from Neighbors, Inc., CEO Charlie Thompson, who on Monday reported a big increase in food shelf customers.
“Let’s not hope for a return to normal,” Thompson said. “Let’s plan to be even better than before.”
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