Back in business
Area shop, barber, restaurant see customers again
Amid the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, many small businesses were affected and were unable to serve their customers normally.
As the restrictions shift in a another direction, business owners and their customers are grateful to see one another again.
On Main Street, a classic style barbershop opened its doors to the public on May 5.
Nathan Spiva, with Stumpff’s Barber Shop, said he has worked at the shop about five years in Cassville, and nothing has ever happened at this level.
“We closed the doors on March 27,” he said. “We didn’t know what to expect. We had mixed feelings.”
Spiva said he knew they had to close, but he didn’t know for how long, or what would happen in the meantime.
“A lot of thinking went into how I would keep the bills paid,” he said. “Thankfully, we were able to stay afloat. My wife was out of work a month longer than me.”
Spiva said the day the doors opened back up and clients started coming was the busiest he had ever been.
“I didn’t realize we were that important,” he said. “That first day, I did 37 haircuts.
“I worked from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. — Penny and I both worked that.”
The shop could still only have four people in it at a time to comply with the restrictions.
“There was a line outside,” Spiva said. “We had people sign a sheet and when one was done, we would call for the next. As a barbershop, we are always cautious about sanitation and being clean, but we are continuing to stay even more cautious.”
One thing Spiva learned with a closed shop was that he appreciates his job more.
“I have always loved my job, but I didn’t realize how much I missed people,” he said. “We see the same people regularly, and you can’t help but develop a relationship with them.
“We worried about our customers a lot at a time like this.”
A few doors down, with bright colors lining the shop window stands Forever Yours Embroidery.
Owner Valerie Speer said her doors closed to the public on April 6.
“At that time, I was closed to everything except for non-essential work,” she said. “I continued to do masks at that time, but I was here alone working.’
Speer invited customers back into her shop on May 4.
“I knew we could get through it, and we would be ok,” she said. “I am grateful that my husband was able to continue working jobs to help support us both.”
Taking advantage of the absence of foot traffic, Speer decided to spend sometime renovating her shop.
“I just did things that I now had time to do,” she said. “But still, you miss your clients though, their stories and them just coming in to say hi.”
Speer said she thinks being in her shop every day, even with the doors locked, showed people that she wasn’t giving up.
“I wasn’t going anywhere,” she said. “That statement makes an impact, and helped to give my community some reassurance and normality.
“If I had to do this again, I would do it the same way.”
Having the opportunity to make her community and clients feel comforted that they would be welcomed back, was worth it.
“The week before I opened, I had a couple ladies from Bentonville, Ark., call and say they drove by five times just to make sure that I was still there,” she said. “I think that is important.”
Another business that was significantly affected was the restaurant business.
Peter Kirton, co-owner of Geraldi’s in Cassville said on March 23, he closed the doors and the restaurant offered curb-side only.
“That only lasted a week, then on the March 30, we were able to adjust it so that people could come in and take away,” he said. “On May 4, we opened the doors again for dine-in, but only at 50 percent occupancy.”
Kirton said that first month, business went down 40 percent.
“But, then people got used to the way things were and started ordering take away again,” he said. “We do pizza, so we are pretty good for that.
“We have been here long enough that we have a loyal customer base, and that is really what kept us going.”
Kirton has worked in Geraldi’s restaurants for 33 years.
“I have never seen anything like this,” he said. “It was amazing to see how loyal people were, and to be honest, it was nice not having so many dishes.”
Kirton said one thing that stood out was how a lot of small businesses felt a bit picked on.
“Big companies weren’t as affected as we were,” he said. “I will also say though, Freedom Bank was great in the way they handled the small business loans.”
Kirton said that is one of the benefits to working with a small community bank.
“They see where their money is at and the importance of keeping us running,” he said. “People still aren’t coming in as much as they were before, but I am sure with a little more time things will get back to normal.”