Downtown New Albany merchants continue to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The last three weeks have been fairly slow,” said Bobby Williams, owner of Southern Traditions on Bankhead Street. “At the moment, we are holding our own.”
Williams said Southern Traditions is only getting about 10 to 20 percent of the business it was prior to the coronavirus crisis.
Starting last Friday at 5 p.m., non-essential businesses had to cease operations other than performing some minimum functions, such as handling payroll.
Williams noted that his store will have to close while the governor's shelter-in-place order is in effect. He wishes he did not have to shut his doors to the public but thinks it is for the best until the coronavirus can be brought under control.
“I feel like it’s probably necessary,” Williams said, adding that the coronavirus is “going to be detrimental to the businesses.”
His business, which has been open for 22 years, sells pottery, gifts, fine jewelry and also does a lot of wedding registries. But he said the wedding business has been “put on hold.”
“A lot of weddings are being postponed,” Williams said. “Everything has slowed down.”
There is no way to hold group wedding showers, he noted.
While business has been hurt at Southern Traditions due to the coronavirus, Williams thinks everything will bounce back eventually.
Denise Owen, owner of Two Doors Down, said the coronavirus “has definitely slowed us down.”
Owen said she is basically trying to make sales online and using tools such as Facebook and Instagram.
She noted that the doors to her business will be locked while the governor’s shelter-in-place order is in effect. But she will continue to ship items that people order online.
Owen said it is important to follow the orders of the authorities to help flatten the curve.
She remains optimistic that things will get back to normal. Two Doors Down sells women’s clothes, a men’s line, jewelry, sunglasses, accessories and shoes.
Employees at Two Doors Down have had their hours cut because business has been slow. But as soon as things pick back up they can return to work. Owen said she cannot afford to have a big payroll when business is slow, adding that she still has to pay rent and utilities.
Owen thinks business has been slow at Two Doors Down because people are staying home because “they’re scared.” In addition, some people do not have extra money to spend because they are out of work due to the coronavirus.
There are hardly any vehicles downtown, she said, adding, “it’s affected all of us downtown to be honest. I think everybody is hurting.”
This is typically a busy time of year at Two Doors Down as Easter is getting close. But with churches not meeting in person there is not a great need for Easter dresses, she said. Likewise, casual dresses for sports banquets are usually needed this time of year, but school is not in session now.
Meanwhile, Owen thinks the governor and president are doing the best they can to respond to the situation. She said she is praying for those in leadership positions.
Pat Taylor, one of the owners, of Between Sisters Boutique, said business has been “bad.” Business was going well and then it was like the “bottom fell out,” she said.
But Between Sisters Boutique is doing the best it can as it weathers the coronavirus crisis. It is using online tools such as Facebook to stay in front of customers.
Tabatha Coker, one of the owners at MODA Designs in downtown New Albany, said March and April are usually the times when sales start picking up for retailers after the slow months on January and February. In spring, people are usually getting out and buying items for Easter, she noted.
MODA Designs is an interior design company and also has a retail store with offerings such as candles, gift items, pillows, bedding, furniture and jewelry.
“We’ve definitely felt the impact,” said Coker, noting that the store’s walk-in traffic has slowed down due to the coronavirus and people staying home.