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How Has the Coronavirus Affected Your Businesses?

Interviews conducted in mid-March by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

corona“Barado’s on the Water will now be take-out only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 12 to 6 p.m. I laid off 10 employees. I hope we survive this horrible time.”

Cheryl Barsom
Co-owner, Barado’s on the Water, Central Square

“Do you have all day? As a tax accountant with returns for everybody and people not being able to get into their offices, it’s crazy. I’ve been trying to help small businesses like restaurants shift gears into being take-out businesses. I’m also talking them off the cliff because they feel like everything has been taking away. It’s taken me away from filing income taxes and turned me into a consultant on how to become a mobile or a remote business.”

Brenda Weissenberg
Owner, Affordable Business Solutions, Central Square

“We have been designated as an essential business because we’re doing printing for Oswego Health and for the food industry and for food packaging. We sent our employees home and gave them the option to come in if they want. It’s my husband and I, like it was when we started in the beginning. It’s been very quiet, as many of our regular clients’ companies are shut down. We’re doing OK at present, but two to three months down the road, if they don’t get started up again, that would be a real problem.”

Kathy Henry
Co-owner Mitchell’s Speedway Press, Oswego

“As a small business, we’ve been able to adapt so far. Although it’s created challenges and inconveniences, we have strong processes and procedures in place. I’m confident that we will be able to provide a level of service to our clients as long as our supply chain — large insurance carriers — have a good business continuity plan. We’re discovering that most of them do and it’s business as usual for now. We already have a remote employee so that has also helped in many ways.”

Nate Skinner
Agent/broker and branch manager, H.G. Ellis Agency, Inc., Constantia

“It’s really slow. I’m open 9 to 9 usually and only one customer had been in so far and it’s 10:30 in the morning. Tomorrow, we’ll open at 12. If this continues, I will close.”

Mike Alamos
Owner, Alamos Food Market, Syracuse

“We are a home center and lumberyard, so we’ve been deemed an essential business by the state and federal government. We are maintaining normal hours. We’ve posted a lot of informational signs that if people feel sick to not come in. We asked employees to maintain distance from each other. We’re cleaning phones, handles and electronics hourly, and counters after every customer leaves. We clean door handles several times an hour to maintain a virus-free environment. Hopefully, if someone comes in with it, we can clean these surfaces to keep people safe. We’ve always had free deliveries. We might see more of that. March is a tough month, as it’s transitional. It depends on the weather. We’ve maintained good sales volume and we’re working on this with our employees. Everyone seems to be on the same page as far as safety and maintaining our business.”

Tom Handley
Co-owner Burke’s Home Center, Fulton and Oswego

“We haven’t gotten any notification about anything so we’re operating as usual. Until we hear differently, we’re maintaining.”

Dorrine Kallfelz
Owner, Square Deal Liquors, Central Square

“Since I have supported and promoted women entrepreneurs for two decades, the coronavirus has me creatively communicating, marketing, and inspiring them through more frequent communication, including online programs, inspiration, and education that women in my organization are offering to other women. I am also starting a podcast next week to share business and motivational wisdom with them, and any other female business owner, during this period. I realize my role as a leader for this demographic and intend to be a major support for them in their time of need. It is about service to me now, not sales.”

Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham
President, Women TIES, LLC, Syracuse

“Currently, we’re just getting ready to shut down for the next couple of weeks, unfortunately. People have been calling and rebooking [their trips] for future dates. I think it’s taken its toll on everybody but we have to do this and stick together. People can still call us. We will have our phones forwarded to us at home in case they need to call us.”

Sandy Shue
Manager of Canalview Travel

“It has reduced new and some in-progress projects and initiatives. We are all rethinking how we can help our clients keep their businesses healthy long-range.”

Steve Chilrello
Owner Chirello Advertising, Fulton

“I generally like to do as many of my meetings with clients face to face because it’s easier looking at them face to face. It’s easier to look at graphs together. We haven’t had in-person meetings for a week now. I’ve had lots of phone calls to update clients on what we see. It’s a crazy time period and hard to know what the economic direction will take with the markets.”

Randy L. Zeigler
Certified financial planner, private wealth adviser, Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., Oswego

“I had a deal just before [the coronavirus crisis] broke out. The market was really, really strong and it will come back. What we had to do is limit the number of people who are in the house and making sure people are washing their hands. The home inspection, I had a client who had one. They usually go along with the inspector, but the inspector did it alone and emailed them. It’s a people business and we’re doing it remotely.”

Tom Wiegand
Licensed real estate agent, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services-CNY Realty, North Syracuse

“COVID-19 has had an immediate impact on our day-to-day operations. From guest services to our banquet and event hosting, we’ve seen an all-time high in cancellations and refunds that we are processing daily. The recent economic impact from this pandemic came about while we had multiple long-term guests in town for the local [nuclear power plants] shutdown. In also being a public entity, we have had to increase our already high-level cleanliness standards. This results in more supplies used daily to keep our facility clean and sanitary while depleting these resources even faster than usual. Despite these recent hardships, our number one goal throughout our businesses is that we keep a positive outlook and remain patient and persistent for those around us. Through it all, we look forward to being a true beacon of light in our community throughout and beyond these difficult times.”

Atom Z. Avery
Owner Beacon Hotel, Oswego 

“We’ve seen an increase in sales because everyone’s trying to stock up on things. We’re seeing a spike in sales we haven’t seen with people we don’t usually see. The big thing is keeping the shelves stocked. Our warehouse is struggling. We’re placing large orders but only getting a fraction of what we ordered. It hasn’t changed how people act toward employees. I’m seeing people be more polite. They’re understanding what’s going on. A few are a little out there and don’t understand the stress of what’s going on, but we see overall a balance between the good and the bad.”

Jordan Crapser
Manager, Paul’s Big M, Oswego

“It is a multi-faceted effect. We have been very, very busy the past couple of weeks but it’s been a challenge to keep our products on the shelf. We want to keep our employees and customers safe as well as be able to supply people. We have hand sanitizer available and our staff is wiping down door handles as frequently as possible and they’re using safe health practices. We’re hoping things start leveling off and people will be OK. If employees are sick, they stay home. We’re doing the best we can and trying to keep our community safe and supplied.”

Theresa Himes
Co-owner, Bosco & Geers, Oswego

“Business has definitely slowed down.”

Matt McGill
Owner, Matt McGill Collision, Brewerton