What local businesses are doing to adapt during the coronavirus threat
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IDAHO FALLS – Big-box retailers and other large companies are selling out of items and staying busy during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s a difficult time for many small businesses. Some have chosen to shut down or allow employees to work remotely from home. Others are fighting to stay open by modifying the way they ordinarily operate.
Here are a few examples of small businesses that are temporarily closing or changing the way they do things during this turbulent time. As they struggle and paychecks get tighter, the impact on the local economy could be significant.
Niki Young, the president and owner of Salon h.davis in Ammon, tells EastIdahoNews.com her customer load has cut in half since the onset of the virus. She closed at the end of the workday Thursday, with a tentative plan to be closed for the next two weeks and re-evaluate based on the latest information.
“I am worried about my employees and their families and our clients and their families and the community. I feel very strongly that we should try to stop the spread of this thing that’s going around,” Young says.
Among the customers who are still visiting the salon are people who have recently traveled and people who work at health clinics, Young says, and that makes her uncomfortable.
“I feel strongly that the virus is closer than we think it is, and I don’t want it spread any further. The more we operate, the more potential we have to get it ourselves or become a carrier and share it with others,” says Young.
All 13 of her employees will be filing for unemployment as Young considers what to do next.
“We might be going without pay for a while, and I encourage people to do the right thing and lay low,” she says. “We appreciate everyone who supports us, and we plan on rising above it in the end.”
1 Fine Cafe
If you’re short on groceries and need a place to buy food, 1 Fine Cafe can help. It’s a European-style breakfast-and-lunch restaurant at 1900 Channing Way in Idaho Falls.
Owner David Kempner says he’s offering a special take-out menu to help customers get in and out quickly and limit contact with other people.
“The idea is to make as much food as we could with as few people (as possible),” Kempner says. “We’re still making everything from scratch. We’re not cutting corners on the quality of the food, just how we’re delivering it.”
Customers can place an order online or by phone and then come by and pick their food up when it’s ready. The restaurant is offering a limited menu right now.
“What I’ve tried to do with the menu is break down enough items to satisfy many different palates as possible without getting too involved,” Kempner says.
He’s also considering a home-delivery option, depending on how bad the coronavirus shutdown gets.
Sunday brunch is a popular dine-in option for the restaurant, but Kempner says that will not be happening soon.
“If you’re looking for good food and still want to go out, I think we’re doing the right thing. We’re cleaning more than we normally do. We have hand sanitizer available,” he says. “I understand people’s fears, but I think it’s still OK for people to go out (to eat).”
The Pediatric Center
As the coronavirus continues to spread, Eastern Idaho Public Health and other health experts have said you do not need to be tested if you do not have any symptoms. If you are sick with other illnesses, health officials are asking you to avoid a trip to the doctor as much as possible.
But even during a health crisis, people will still get other illnesses, and children are prone to many different ailments.
The Pediatric Center in Rigby and Idaho Falls is continuing to see patients during this time, but Operations Manager Natalee Snarr says staff has made temporary changes to avoid spreading germs.
“We’ve created a couple of separate entrances — one of them just for sick kids with cough and fever. We have a separate waiting room that we’ve formulated for them, and we (try to see them) as quickly as possible. We have an entrance at our back door for premies or children under 2 months old,” Snarr says.
Kids with cardiac and respiratory diseases are highly susceptible to COVID-19, Snarr says, and there are exam rooms near the back entrance for them.
Wiping down every single room between every patient, putting higher-risk patients into a clean room and not having patients congregated together are critical right now, says Snarr.
As the coronavirus continues to spread, Snarr says she’s seen an increase in the number of phone calls from concerned parents, but the patient workload has stayed about the same.
“We haven’t seen an influx yet, but we’re hoping it’s not the calm before the storm. We’re prepared if that’s the case,” she says.
Though there are some restrictions in place for visiting the doctor right now, Snarr says if there is a medical need, they still want to be there for their patients.
“We don’t want parents to put vaccines off because of this. It’s important that their child continues to get their vaccines as close to on schedule as possible. That’s why we have separate entrances and are trying to protect the healthy kids coming to our clinic,” Snarr says.
The Pediatric Center is at 3430 Washington Parkway in Idaho Falls and in Rigby at 530 Rigby Lake Drive. For questions, conerns or to schedule an appointment, call (208) 523-3060 in Idaho Falls or (208) 745-8927 in Rigby.
Since opening in 2016, Redd’s Grill in Rexburg has had a take-out option that allows customers to order food over the phone or online and then pick it up.
Co-owner Tara Rail is reminding you to consider this option during the threat of coronavirus.
“We can do a drive up, where we’ll bring it out to them, or they can just come in and pick it up if they want,” Rail says.
Rail and her husband opened a second location inside the Shilo Inn in Idaho Falls on March 2. As of Wednesday, that was closed until at least April 1.
“By now most everyone has been informed about the president’s 15-day plan to slow the (spread of coronavirus),” the couple writes on Facebook. “Based on these suggestions and out of concern for our guests and our employees, we have decided to close the dining room inside the Shilo Inn to the public until April 1st at a minimum. We will be following respected authorities including the CDC and the Eastern Idaho Public Health Department for guidance on which direction to take at that point.”
Rail says they will continue to serve breakfast for hotel guests. Despite the spread of coronavirus, Rail says there is still a steady stream of hotel guests on the weekend.
Redd’s Grill is at the Teton Lakes Golf Course at 722 N. 12th West in Rexburg. It is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Supporting small businesses
In the midst of uncertainties, business leaders say they depend on each other for success and that it’s important to look out for one another.
Gov. Brad Little announced Wednesday small business administration loans may be available, and he’s seeking feedback from business owners to determine who is eligible.
“These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster’s impact,” a news release from the governor’s office states.
The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses and 2.75 percent for nonprofits.
Businesses can fill out the SBA Disaster Economic Injury Worksheet to assist with the qualification process. The worksheet can be found on the Idaho Commerce website here.
“Businesses who may not apply to receive financial assistance are still encouraged to submit worksheets to document the impact on their business. This information will help Idaho businesses who do apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan to be more likely to receive assistance,” according to the news release.
You can visit the SBA disaster assistance website for more information.