Becky Silver holds hands for a living. She may not be able to do that for quite a while.
Silver is a nail artist who works at the DeVine Salon in Redmond’s downtown. Last week, she was treating and painting nails of Dee Cheney, who didn’t mind being in the salon. But this week, she may have to stop thanks to an order by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown that hair salons, barber shops and nail technicians shut down, among multiple other businesses. (See related list).
Any “skin-to-skin” businesses have to stop operations, to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus that has crippled business and travel across Oregon as well as around the world.
“Are you kidding? I hold hands with people for a living. But, I’m not going to come to work when I don’t feel good because we’re so close,” Silver told The Spokesman. “And, we have seen business drop off, had cancellations. But they canceled if they were sick themselves, or a doctor had told them to stay indoors. We haven’t had anyone say that they are scared to come in. And we’ve sent notes out to our customers to err on the side of caution if they are not feeling well.”
DeVine, owned by Andrea Fugate, was one of the few shops still operating along Southwest Sixth Street last week. It may be closed now.
Kitana Kilborn of Every Bloomin’ Thing, a flower and gift shop, is still arranging flowers, but she and owner, Donna Wilding — who has has the shop about five years — have seen a dramatic drop off in business.
“We saw the falloff when the governor issued the 10-person limit for gatherings last week,” Kilborn said. “We had three weddings, one funeral and one big birthday event cancel. We definitely took a hit and, like many, don’t know how long it will last.” The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but there is not a lot of foot traffic. Same-day delivery ends at about 2:30 p.m. (The shop does have a hand sanitizing station just outside its front door, and asks people to be considerate).
Aid for small business
The Redmond Chamber of Commerce and the city of Redmond is offering access to aid via a list of links on the chamber’s website. There is also a survey for businesses to fill out on how they’ve been affected. (See related stories)
It will help secure federal loans and grants that may help keep the doors open during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We formed a Small Business concierge team that is developing a ‘Redmond Rises’ campaign,” said City Manager Keith Witcosky. “The team has five people on it, including staff from the Redmond Chamber. The initial intent is to call through to downtown and other local businesses to let them know we care, to hear their needs, and to let them know what we are doing to try and keep them propped up.”
The city wants to give business owners someone to talk to who can help point them in the direction of state and federal resources as those recovery programs get created.
“We are also looking into finding a city-owned lot to stage pick-up and take-out services, create marketing and maps that help make decisions easier for potential customers…and many other ideas,” Witcosky said.
Curbside services the norm
Meanwhile, restaurants along Sixth Street are feeling the pinch as well and some have shifted to curbside takeout as a means of getting customers to stop by.
Maribel Santana, co-owner of Diego’s Spirited Kitchen with Pablo Pena, said she with her voice choking, she has laid off 90 percent of her staff.
“It changed dramatically after last week. I had to layoff 20 people, though we are trying to rotate people in whereby each one gets a day to work minimum,” Santana said.
The restaurant that serve pastas, steaks and specializes in Mexican food, turned to drive-up curbside sales. Staff will take one’s order and drivers can park in the rears of the building to have it delivered. The Chamber offered the parking lot to the business for that purpose.
“We haven’t decided on home delivery; that might be too risky for employees to do that,” Santana said.
However, take-out alone won’t keep the restaurant afloat.
Alcohol sales are a big part of the business. The Spirited Kitchen has a wall of liquors and a lounge, plus its restaurant.
“That is all money sitting on the shelf,” Santana said. “There is no way we can survive on just takeout.”
Liquor sales option
Over the weekend, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission issued a temporary order allowing for the sale of alcohol as part of the take out and the curbside service. (It later added marijuana sales, too). That may ease some of the financial burden on restaurants.
Pena also owns Madaline’s Grill and Steak house at 2414 S. Hwy 97. It, too, is offering curbside service and is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“We’ve been in the business for more than 10 years and never expected this,” Santana said. “We are truly grateful for our customers and hope they continue to support us.”
Down the street at Carnaval Mexican Grill, Yadira Medina and her husband Emanuel Medina are running their business with a skeleton crew, just themselves and their 17-year-old son, who is out of school.
“We noticed a drop off in business started in the middle of last week. We had take-out anyway, but it has picked up by 60 percent,” said Yadira. “We’re expanding hours to be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the week and weekends, but we are closed for breakfast on the weekends; it’s not busy enough.”
The restaurant, which had just started in November, laid off 10 people.
“Everyone has been very supportive and employees want to come in for the extra hours and are not wanting to get paid,” she said. “We just want everyone to stay strong and positive.”
Gun sales spike
Jay Green, owner of Cash and Release Pawn shop, is closing his business in June; not due to the virus, but because he’s retiring.
At 81, Green, who’s been in the business some 25 year, is offering 20 percent off on everything.
The biggest seller? Rifle and pistol purchases are up by 60 percent.
“Not sure what is going on there,” he said shaking his head. He notes there are a lot of first-time gun owners coming through the door. “Perhaps the reason is that they are on sale.” He has seen less foot traffic to his store, and he may now fall under the governor’s order to shut down early.
Meanwhile, there is always a need for sweets, and Loren Stillwell, new owner of of Sweet Oasis Sweet Shop at 425 SW Sixth St. has seen a decent amount of foot traffic in his store.
“It’s been better than I expected over the past week, but I expect it to drop off. We are seeing a 20 percent decline. But with parents having children at home, some are stopping in for a treat for their children,” Stillwell said. (It is unknown if the shop will be affected by the governor’s recent order).
The shop offers homemade chocolates, flavored popcorn, and fudge. Some of the packaged candies come from Portland. And it has CBDs, too.
“We take care to handle and distribute the homemade candies ourselves. And we wipe down everything to protect our customers,” he said.
Stillwell just took over the business a month ago and had hoped to expand this summer. Now those plans are on hold.