“Unemployment isn’t going to be much,” said Jessica Murphy, manager at Betty’s Country Cooking. “It’s rough.”
Murphy, along with all of Betty’s staff, were prepared to head to the unemployment office once they closed the business completely at 3 p.m. on Monday. Gov. Beshear mandated the closure of all dine-in areas of restaurants, limiting restaurants to carry-out or delivery only.
While Betty’s had been providing some delivery service prior to the governor’s mandate, a decision was made Monday to close shop due to the challenge of predicting how much demand there would be from customers.
“If you’re going to have three customers through the window in one day, that doesn’t even cover payroll. If you’re going to have 30 customers through in an hour, you can’t have two people trying to take care of all of that,” said waitress Sarah Ferguson.
Murphy said they sold all food at 35 percent off Monday to clear out the food that would have wasted, with Ferguson adding that they called some of their regular customers to let them know so that their customers wouldn’t have to go without.
“Betty’s is one big family and we’re making sure that our customers and employees are going to be taken care of during this time. We’re selling food to them at cost so we’re not gaining anything but we won’t be wasting it and they won’t be without. Our managers were on top of things making sure the unemployment office was ready for our employees,” said Ferguson.
“The not knowing is the scariest part,” said Destiny Greer, owner of Dollhouse Daycare. “We have no idea how long it’s going to last or what to expect.”
On Monday, Gov. Beshear ordered all regulated child care providers to close by the end of Friday, March 20.
Greer is hopeful for a positive outcome for her business, but there is nothing to ensure that.
“While I do feel like we will be fine, I feel like that we will rally and get through this, the not knowing what’s next and what my next step is as an owner versus what their next steps are as employees is hard,” said Greer.
Greer knows her employees are fearful for what to do.
“Even if they’re able to draw unemployment, it’s not the same as getting a check every Friday,” said Greer.
The worry doesn’t stop there because the daycare’s closure affects many more people beyond staff and it’s one of her biggest concerns.
“What are my parents going to do if they don’t have backup babysitters?” said Greer. “It’s concerning on all aspects as far as how to make the right decisions and the things that are right for my business, staff and customers.”
Then, there’s the people who haven’t been expected to shut their business yet and are going to try to survive during a time when it’s recommended for people to stay home.
Leslie and Bruce Hadley are owners of Oh Darlin’ Boutique in Columbia.
They usually have green items for St. Patrick’s Day and Easter clothes flying off the racks right now, but those items are still in inventory.
“As far as people coming in, we don’t see as much traffic right now and for us to try to survive in a small town, we have to still sell something or else we have to close our doors, as well,” said Leslie Hadley. “I just have to try to keep my head above water just to make bills at the present moment. If we have to close, I don’t know what I’ll do.”
The boutique is also experiencing shipping delays in clothes that she needs at the moment and can’t get clothes from the places she normally orders from.
Hadley said she has talked to other boutiques and they all agree that they are in for a struggle ahead.
“You either try or you fail. I’m going to have to try as hard as I can no matter how I sell something. Even if I have to mail it or bring it to doors, I’m not afraid to do that,” said Leslie.
If someone wants to support a local business during this time, they could purchase a gift card to use at a later time or could see if a business is mailing or delivering items.
Like many businesses, the Hadleys are taking preventative measures at their store by wiping down doorknobs after they are used and mopping the floors with bleach every day.
They are encouraging people that when they do shop, even for their groceries, to keep the locally owned businesses in mind.
“That’s what’s going to keep our livelihood for everybody,” said Leslie. “This is an opportunity to take a hard look at what availability and resources do we have locally,” added Bruce. “If you start looking, you’d be surprised at how much you can get right here.”
Many local businesses and government offices are listening to recommendations and orders of Gov. Beshear and are doing their part to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.
By Anna Buckman