Health is a top concern across the world for all mankind, but locally owned small businesses have a bit more on their shoulders at this time.
The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber recognizes that these businesses rely on a steady flow of customers and consumers that have recently come to a halt.
Over 80% of businesses in Lowndes county fall into this category.
Social distance and limited contact has been advised to all and while it is the best practice for our health, these small businesses need our attention through alternate avenues.
In just the short period of time since COVID-19 has reached our area, these businesses are already feeling a hit.
Sue Cox, owner of Covington’s Dining & Catering and 306 North has come up with options to continue to feed the community in a safer, more distant way.
Like many other restaurants, they are offering take-out and curb-side delivery options. Even with these limited contact options, both restaurants are continuing their top-of-the-line hygiene practices provided by the Lowndes County Health Department.
“We continue to train and update our employees to do everything we can for your public safety and the freshness of our food,” stated Cox.
Cox expressed that “all small businesses need the community’s help right now, and we look forward to being here to serve the community at this time, too.”
Thacker Dermatology, like many others have already adapted and made necessary changes.
Though she understands the financial concerns, owner, Dr. Betsy Backe “can’t emphasize enough the importance of staying home.”
The office is only open for high-risk appointments at this time. They are rescheduling all routine appointments or encouraging them to use TeleDerm, a form of video consultation.
For those that must come in, Dr. Backe has “instructed the staff to wear face masks and wipe down exam tables, chairs and door handles between each patient,” Dr. Backe shared.
In addition to taking precautions with her employee’s while in the office, Dr. Backe is making sure they are taken care of financially as well.
Working with a “skeleton crew” to keep numbers down, many of Thacker Dermatology’s employees are not working at the moment.
“I have come up with a policy so our workers can get paid even when they are not here,” explains Dr. Backe.
Gift certificates and skin products are currently available to the public and can be purchased through curb-side delivery.
Stephanie Smith, owner of L.S. Smith Photography has also looked for the “windows” in her business that are “geared towards keeping clients’ experiences awesome” in a safe way.
“Being flexible is key,” Smith states.
While primarily a portrait photographer, Smith has created an outdoor “booth” providing a more spacious, safer environment to capture the same professional look of an in-studio portrait.
Smith is also encouraging seniors to plan ahead for their portraits and purchase a gift certificate available on her website.
Some businesses have no choice but to keep running, such as local accounting firm, Fowler, Holley, Rambo & Stalvey, PC.
Though tax season has been extended, people need to “get their financial reports completed and their taxes filed, but also they need help analyzing how this pandemic will affect their business,” according to Curt Fowler, a CPA at the firm.
Through this busy time, the firm’s goal remains to keep clients and staff safe and do their part to stop the spread of the visrus.
All in person meetings have been suspended and clients are encouraged to drop off their materials rather than come in.
“This is a big change for us,” Fowler admits. “We traditionally have many clients in our offices this time of year, but instead, we are utilizing web and tele-conferences to communicate. We are prepared and ready to work from our homes if that is required.”
Our daily lives may be shaken, but as we are trying to do new things at home, we must get creative to support our local business community. The community can be wiser and stronger than COVID-19 with a few modifications and smart practices.