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Final Project: Small Businesses in the Post- COVID World

The entrance to the restaurant. Permanent sign is a project post-pandemic as this is their new location for about 5 months.
Photo Credit: Zion Gallant

The coronavirus pandemic has affected businesses across the country, especially small shops that rely on the support of their communities, and with the world inching ever closer to normalcy, it has yet to be seen how businesses will handle the change.

One such business is Uncle Wiggly’s Wieners; a family owned hot dog and American food restaurant that has experienced the direct effects of the pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected businesses across the country, especially small shops that rely on the support of their communities, and with the world inching ever closer to normalcy, it has yet to be seen how businesses will handle the change.

Shelly Cox, the owner and operator of the establishment, opened her business just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic caused a massive shift in society. Only open four-weeks before the shop-closing mandates hit the state, Cox and her family had to think fast on whether to continue their new venture or to close up shop.

Other businesses right across the street from their new location were all calling it quits when they saw their profits fall drastically. Megan Pettis, the assistant manager of the restaurant said they had to close for a week to decide what to do.

“It was either going to be a hit or a miss” Pettis said. “We decided to lock the doors and do curb-side hamburgers only….we were having one-thousand dollar days!”

Other businesses weren’t having the same luck. Christa Caroselli owned and operated a clothing boutique next to the new American eatery which had to close due to the coronavirus’ impact on peoples ability to spend on luxuries such as clothes.

Cox further explained the tactics they used to gain and keep the confidence of the local customer base. “The community support was incredible, people followed our new Facebook page so we could communicate in a safe and efficient manner” Cox said. “We also maintained an old-school ‘customers always right’ mentality, which has really helped restore our customers confidence that we are safe and friendly”.

While Shelly’s business is one that has been able to survive and even thrive in a world wrecked by economic strife, Cox realizes that the return to normalcy is one that requires the continued confidence of her diners. She says that she plans to keep up the scrupulous cleaning and safety measures even after the nation gains a foothold on the COVID-19 pandemic, as peoples worries over large crowds and public venues will still be an issue for some time.

Cox also appreciated the loyalty of her customers, as with small town eateries one has to rely on the good faith and trust of the locals. Here she talks of how her customers have maintained consistant business through their own decision making when going out in public.

How Business has Faired up to this Point

Other businesses on this street have struggled with maintaining a consistant customer base as Uncle Wiggly’s has done. However, with more people getting vaccinated and a sense of restlessness rushing over many as the summer months are only a couple months away, it does look like there is a breaking point where normal traffic will resume.

Cox and Pettis both ascribe their ability to survive to their food. “It may sound simple, but our price-point and the quality of our ingredients has boosted our customers love for us…even during hard financial times” Pettis said.

This was reiterated multiple times, as both managers and employees said they felt the pricing was fair for the amount the customer received. This is one key aspect in the trifecta of success for small food business: cleanliness, kindness, and price.

As a final thought, Shelly Cox reiterates her happiness of her success through the pandemic.

“I have been extremely fortunate and blessed to have found something that has made me and my customers happy” Cox said. “I hope to expand and grow when the world returns to normalcy”.

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