Persistence through the pandemic

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Lexi Warnecki

Mr. Craig Betterly, owner of Centerville Sod.

Lexi Warnecki, Contributor

Since President Trump announced the nation-wide shutdown on March 13 amid the global pandemic, small business owners have faced many unexpected challenges. This is especially true for companies deemed non-essential. Some local businesses have struggled but have used this uncertain time to gain new knowledge.   

Businesses that were indicated essential remained open with additional safety precautions, such as requiring face masks before entering, 6-foot social distancing guidelines in place and multiple hand sanitizing stations. Some businesses with smaller buildings asked their costumers to remain outside while the prior customer finished their transaction.  

After a few months, non-essential businesses varied in their reopening dates. This phase was enforced by Virginia State Governor, Northam.    

Brentsville District High School alum and local entrepreneur, Mr. Craig Betterly of Centreville Sod, expressed the concerns he had. Not only facing the unknowns of “… how people working from home and skyrocketing unemployment would affect [them,]” but having to adapt and enforce new safety regulations.   

For Centreville Sod, this included measures such as transitioning “…to almost strictly credit card over the phone transactions [,]’’ and avoiding “…greetings with handshakes before or after the transactions are complete…” He continued by expressing concern that the new guidelines made “…the purchase seem a little less personal.”    

Betterly countered expectations with a positive response stating that they, “…had the sudden boom in business that Lowe’s and Home Depot experienced.  People who were stuck at home with nothing to do and staring at their ugly yard suddenly decided that ‘now’ was the time to do something.”  

The strength of local businesses during such trying times remain evident and encouraging, with owners making new accommodations to protect their employees and customers.  

With the fear of the pandemic leading to customer’s concern for safety, Chick-fil-a Bristow experienced an “…approximately 20 [percent] sales decline.” 

Mr. Mike Lovitt, owner of Chick-fil-a Bristow, expressed that his priority is to protect his team members and guests’. They …closed [their] dining room and went to a Drive-thru only configuration with several parking spaces allocated to curbside service.”  

As face masks became mandatory, sales started “…spiking upward.” 

Lovitt and his leadership team “…encourage [their] team members to take the safety practices they learn at Chick-fil-a and extend them to their social interaction outside of the store.”  

Chick-fil-a Bristow have been able to recover as “sales have risen to almost pre-Covid numbers.” 

As a Chick-fil-a team we long for the days that we can carry trays to the table, refresh beverages, and clear guest tables without being asked. ”

— Mr. Mike Lovitt

After being closed from March 20 until June 1, Haymarket business owner, Ms. Gloria Harding, of Tranquility Day Spa and Salon shared her struggles with the shutdown.  

“Paying all the bills coming in without generating income,” and having to use an “…emergency fund” were just two of the challenges that her salon and spa encountered.  

When asked what she had learned as a business owner through this pandemic experience, Harding suggested she would not “…shut down again,” stating that it is “…against [her] constitutional rights.” 

Supporting your local business during these hard times can be useful and helpful to them.