Merle Norman

Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio in New Albany sells hand sanitizer and fashionable face masks. Demonstrating the products are employee Katie Wallace, left, and owner Natalie Floyd. 

Brenda Smith sat a table inside her store in downtown New Albany and reflected on how the coronavirus has impacted her business.

Smith, the owner of Re-Designing Women, said business has been a lot slower than normal.

She obviously hopes things will get back to normal soon but does not know if that will happen.

“I’m just taking it day by day,” she said. “I still know who’s in charge, and I’m not worried about it.”

Asked who’s in charge, Smith said, “God.” 

When business does return, Smith thinks it will be gradually as opposed to all at once.

“I don’t think it will be a fast thing at all,” Smith said. “People are scared.”

Her business just reopened after being closed for five weeks.

“We have to come back at some time,” she said.

People have been affected differently by the coronavirus pandemic, she noted.

“I really haven’t suffered,” Smith said. “My needs have been met all the way through this. I actually enjoyed my time off at home.”

Her business has been open about 15 years and sells antiques, furniture and home accessories.

Tallahatchie Nutrition is doing good business despite the coronavirus, said employee Meadow Golden.

“We are booming,” Golden said. “It has been nonstop here. I love how the community supports local businesses.”

The business is providing curbside service in which orders are delivered to vehicles. 

“We try to make sure it’s safe for each employee and our customers as well,” Golden said.

Travis Wiseman, owner Union Appliance and Furniture, also said that “business has held on throughout this pandemic.”

Wiseman noted that furniture sales picked up when the stimulus money started coming in.

Tommy Sappington, owner of T. Sappington & Company, recently reopened after being closed for three weeks.

“We’ve had a really good first of the week with the reopening,” Sappington said. “I’ve been very pleased. I’ve been very encouraged by the last three days.”

Prior to closing for three weeks due to the coronavirus the store had not been closed for a full week in 64 years.

“It’s pretty scary when you have to lock the door for a full three weeks,” he said. “Maybe we’ll turn the corner and get this past us.”

Natalie Floyd, owner of Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio, said business has been good but still slower than normal. She noted that prom season is a big time for the business, and several schools have not had their proms due to the coronavirus.

While the store was closed, Merle Norman was still doing some business through online orders and curbside pickup. Floyd also provided home delivery for elderly customers who could not leave their homes.

“The women in the town they’re not going to go without their makeup and their skin care,” Floyd said.

The Merle Norman store has reopened and is now selling hand sanitizer and fashionable face masks in addition to its normal product line of apparel, makeup and jewelry. She noted that businesses have had to reinvent themselves and meet customer demand.

She sells 20-25 different kinds of masks, including ones for males, females and children. There are floral prints, polka dot, tie dye and other designs. One of the face masks even hooks onto a headband so it does not pull on the ears. There are even star prints for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

“A lot of people have been calling in and ordering those,” Floyd said. “We all want to be protective, but we also want to look good while we’re wearing the masks too. So I’ve got some that are a little more fashionable for the women too.”

She said until there is a vaccine it will be important to wear masks in public places. She has probably shipped over 100 masks to people out of state.

“It’s been a good business for us,” Floyd said.

Not everyone wants to wear a regular white mask, Floyd said, adding that Merle Norman also offers three different kinds of hand sanitizer.

In the meantime, Merle Norman hopes Mother’s Day and graduation brings in a lot of business.

“We’ve got Mother’s Day coming up in a week,” she said.

Floyd hopes that people are getting into the mood to shop and feeling more confident about being out in the public. As the days go by, it looks as though people are getting a little braver in terms of getting out, she said.

“It’s encouraging,” Floyd noted.

Kelsey Phillips, owner of the Vintage Rose boutique, recently reopened her store after being closed for more than a month. It was rough being closed, but the business managed to keep its online store afloat during that time, Phillips said.

“We’re happy to be back, and business is flowing just fine,” Phillips said. “The store’s been pretty busy, and we’ve had people in and out all day.”

She feels as though things are “finally” bouncing back, and she hopes a corner has been turned on the coronavirus.

“We were on lockdown for a while,” she noted. “I just hope we’re coming out of it, and we can fully open and be back to normal.”

Phillips hopes Mother’s Day provides a boost for the business, pointing out that the spring open house was canceled.

Leann Murphy, owner of Obsessions Boutique and Salon, noted that foot traffic in the downtown area on Thursday was improved from earlier in the week.

“We’ve had a good bit more foot traffic already today and purchasers, so maybe it’s heading back to normal,” Murphy said. “I hope so.”

Her business was closed for five weeks but still provided online orders and curbside pickup.

“We definitely have some catching up to do,” Murphy said.

The boutique portion of Obsessions reopened Monday, but the salon was still closed.

“We just don’t know when the salon can open back up,” Murphy said, adding that the coronavirus has been very difficult on her business.

She noted that her business missed being open for the Easter season, which is big for a women’s boutique.

While sales have been down significantly compared to March and April of last year, Murphy is still very thankful for all the orders she did have.

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