Business Owners React to Economic Impact of Crisis

By Troy Treasure

  Governor Parson announced Wednesday, April 22 most Missouri businesses would be allowed to fully reopen May 4. 

  During his daily public briefing Friday, the governor stated such establishments include beauty salons and barbershops.

  Parson intended to reveal a plan Monday, April 27 outlining the reopening of, among other entities, indoor church services and restaurants along with continued social-distancing guidelines. Details were scheduled to be released after the Shelby County Herald’s Monday press time.

  Until May 4, Missouri’s stay-at-home order remains in effect. However, the state emergency declaration currently extends until June 15.

  The Herald last week contacted seven businesses, at random, to ask how the coronavirus had affected operations to date. A representative of one business declined public comment. Another did not return a telephone message.

  Tim’s Home Center owner Arnie Neely has experienced both good and bad, the latter first.

  “When we had a confirmed case in Shelby County, for a week and a half it was like a ghost town in here,” he said.

  Once federal stimulus payments began being deposited, the Shelbina-based outlet benefited from people putting those funds toward the intended purpose. Neely cited one example:

  “It’s been right at two weeks and we’ve seen people come in and make those comments,” he said regarding customer response to the stimulus program. “Two weeks ago, we had 20 to 25 freezers and now we have to turn people away.”

  On the flip side, Neely indicated additional freezers might not be available until August, at the earliest.

  Edward Zimmerman, owner of Windmill Ridge Bulk Foods east of Shelbyville, saw a major upswing in business when the initial health situation became a crisis. Zimmerman said his store sold more 50-pound bags of such items as potatoes and sugar.

  After the first week, his sales tapered off then picked back up.

  “There are more people coming in saying they are buying for an older neighbor or relatives and less people going to town, so they are buying more,” Zimmerman said. “Some of our items, the sales have actually doubled. Some items, even more than that.”

  Zimmerman also stated deli sales have been strong with more customers purchasing those items to take home.

  Conversely, Linda Dobyns of Dobyns Market in Shelbina indicated since a take-out-only restriction was placed on in-house dining establishments, she has seen a 40-percent decrease in lunch business while the breakfast cliental has plummeted. Dobyns has seen a slight uptick in retail sales.

  “That does help. At least I have more of a variety. I’m not just a restaurant,” she said. “I feel sorry for the restaurants because their percentage is a lot worse than 40.”

  Dobyns said she has not laid off any employees.

  Tav Brown, president of Brown’s Furniture, said his family’s business has felt an impact including at its Shelbina store.

  “It certainly has us, as in all walks of life,” Brown said by telephone from Palmyra. “We are very thankful to be in the communities we are. We will be glad to have the stay-at-home order lifted.”

  People who want to work outside in the garden have been a boost to nurseries. Country Acres Greenhouse east of Shelbyville opened for the season March 7.

  “This year we did see a lot more seed sales,” owner Titus Garretson said. “I suppose the pandemic has had quite an effect on that with people a little bit more worried about food availability.

  “We’ve been selling a lot of tomatoes and peppers (plants) earlier than normal,” Garretson continued. “I’m hoping to be able to at least keep up, somewhat, with the demand.”

  Dobyns likely stated sentiments of many about the future … short-term and distant.

  “You have to have a positive attitude. Things are going to get better,” she said. “We’re all looking forward to an end to it and returning to normal life again.”

  For updates on this story, please consult shelbycountyherald.com.