Businesses try to adjust to impact of coronavirus

Friday, March 27, 2020
Jay’s Chicken in Sikeston displays a sign to support local business.
David Jenkins/Standard Democrat

SIKESTON — While the coronavirus pandemic is having a huge impact on health across the country, it is also having an impact on local business.

During the social distancing order, many local businesses are being forced to reduce hours, adjust policies due to social distancing or close altogether, with many business owners being cautious in an uncertain time.

“Everyone has done a fantastic job of shifting their business model a bit to accommodate for social distancing for both their staff and their customers,” said Marcie Lawson, executive director of the Sikeston Regional Chamber. “However, many (businesses) have already noticed a drop in sales, pretty much across the board, with the exception of maybe the grocery store owner that I talked to. A few of them seem a bit nervous of the uncertainty, but that seems to be the mood for everyone, not just business owners.”

With the drop and business and the uncertainty of the future, the Sikeston Regional Chamber is trying to help local businesses in several different ways. One is the creation of the Sikeston Take-Out and Delivery Options Facebook group.

The group is dedicated to local restaurants who can post in the group and update daily with specifics with what they are doing along with daily specials or offers and the ability to post their menus.

“This is for any local restaurant, not just Chamber members,” Lawson said. “This is a time where we need to pull together as a community, so we’ve made the decision to promote all businesses.”

The Chamber is also filtering through the massive amounts of information that is being distributed about the coronavirus, and providing businesses with only accurate, up-to-date information and resources. Lawson said she is getting information from the U.S. Chamber, Missouri Chamber, Missouri Department of Economic Development and then reaching out to the local healthcare system, health departments and the City of Sikeston to make sure the information being sent to businesses is relevant to business in the Sikeston region.

Lawson said the Chamber is also acting as a community cheerleader, reminding citizens of the community that this is the time to step up and help each other.

“There are several things people can do to help local businesses while maintaining social distancing,” Lawson said. “The first is to order take-out from local restaurants. Many of our dine-in only restaurants have made accommodations for curbside pickup or carryout. You can also purchase a gift card from a local business to use later. Even one gift card from a local business once a week will put cash into their business that they need now.”

Lawson added another thing residents can do is find their favorite local business on social media and actively participate on their page.

“This will increase their exposure on social media and many of them are using social media to keep their businesses running even if they are closed to the public,” Lawson said. “You can find something you like on their page, call, purchase and meet them at the door. I’ve done it, it’s great.”

In an effort to boost business in Downtown Sikeston, Jason Davis, executive director of Historic Downtown Sikeston, put together a scavenger hunt where residents can find items located Downtown and in Downtown businesses.

“I have been trying to find creative ways to encourage people and help our merchants,” Davis said. “Someone pointed me to another town who did this and I thought we could easily do it.”

The scavenger hunt list, which includes items like disco ball, palm tree and juke box, can be found on Historic Downtown Sikeston’s Facebook page.

Davis said merchants thought it was a great idea and it has gotten a positive response from the public.

“We have had many comments and many people have shared the hunt on Facebook,” Davis said. “Some people have even asked for hints on those items that are difficult to find.”

Davis added they are working on more creative ways to support the City and Downtown merchants.

While organizations are trying to help businesses, several local businesses are giving back as well.

La Ruleta donated meals to Spread Hope Now and challenged other restaurants to join. Grecian Steakhouse almost immediately responded and donated meals in turn.

Lawson encouraged residents to look at their website at where there are specific links to the latest information regarding the community and assistance to our businesses.

“I also think it’s important to remind everyone to donate blood and there are several blood drives coming up, with the next one on April 1 at Spread Hope Now,” Lawson said.

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