Local area establishments continue to navigate through COVID

·3 min read

Nov. 28—GOSHEN — Brad Hardesty, who lives south of Goshen and is a longtime customer of The Electric Brew in downtown Goshen, shared observations on what he has noticed at the coffee shop since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

"Seating was very sparse back then, but I didn't notice a lack of business," he said, with respect to carry-out business which took place, adding that he is seeing many new faces there. "I'm glad to see the customer base is faithful and it has come back."

Hardesty was one of many customers the coffee shop had Saturday, which happened to also be Small Business Saturday both in Goshen but nationwide as well. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, it's purpose is to serve as "a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities."

Myron Bontrager is The Electric Brew's owner, one of several representatives of local small businesses that shared input.

"Yesterday and today are busy days no matter what happens," Bontrager said by telephone late Saturday morning, in reference to the Friday and Saturday immediately after Thanksgiving.

Bontrager said that business has gradually been on the uptick as COVID cases have seen somewhat of a decline, and expects business to improve.

"The best thing is for people to go out and get vaccinated and get this thing over with," Bontrager said.

Bontrager said that his shop has an air purification system set up, with air being processed through filters, due to his concern for the health and well-being of his employees. He also said his business has practiced social distancing since the pandemic began.

"We set that up immediately," he said.

Erika Serrano, manager of The Goshen Family Restaurant, on Goshen's south side, speaking through a translation by waitress Aime Fuentes, spoke about how their establishment has been impacted.

"At the beginning of the pandemic it was very low, the number of customers," she said. "Now it has increased a little, but not as much as before COVID."

Serrano said that they still have clients that take the COVID precautions seriously.

"That's, like, our only struggle," she said.

Since the pandemic, the restaurant has changed it's hours from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and has fewer employees as some have quit. They have also had to stop using placemats on tables, which had ads for other businesses, due to COVID health concerns, as well has now serving cups and silverware specifically to customers, not simply left on the table, as well as other special cleaning measures.

"We keep everything very clean," Fuentes said.

Rochelle Rock, owner of Rose Lee Boutique, also in downtown Goshen, offered a 15 percent discount Saturday as customers browsed in her store, which specializes in women's clothing, accessories, and shoes. With respect to changes resulting from the pandemic, she said she has seen a "definite improvement."

"It's definitely better than last year," she said early Saturday afternoon.

With respect to permanent changes in how she runs her business, Rock said she hasn't seen much changes, such as limiting the number of customers in her store at a given time or similar measures, but she does clean and make hand sanitizer available.

"It's not like I see a heavy volume of traffic everyday," she said.

To learn more visit www.sba.gov/about-sba/organization/sba-initiatives/small-business-saturday.

Steve Wilson is news editor for The Goshen News. You can reach him at steve.wilson@goshennews.com.

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