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Issue 1

September 27th, 2019

COVID lockdown impacted small businesses

SAT. | 10-10-20 | NEWS

     The COVID-19 lockdown had significant effects on businesses all over Pitt County. The Labor Department reported an estimate of 38.6 million people who are now unemployed worldwide due to the global pandemic. Many companies in Greenville had to make the decision to lay off employees while others tried keeping them working during the shutdown by shifting their products online, changing their sourcing practices or trying telework. 

     One local example of a small business that struggled during quarantine was Ford and Shep restaurant. Manager Hannah Garrison had her business shut down on Tuesday, Mar. 17. The lockdown allowed for Garrison to have a break which was crucial for her, although it did hold a negative impact in affecting the economic growth and success of the business.

     “When I look back on numbers from previous years and see our sales then to our sales now, they are...half of what they usually are,“ Garrison said. “On a busy night we could do anywhere from 150-220 people; now a really good night is about 80 people.”

     Small businesses were largely impacted by the lockdown due to their limited resources in adapting to the changes that took place. Not

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Graphic by Ashley Van Havere

only did the virus cause economic challenges, but it also caused social impact in changing the way businesses responded to their consumers. 

     “We held several staff meetings and made sure everyone was aware of the new expectations [and that] we would hold them in compliance with Governor Cooper,” Garrison said. “We rearranged the entire restaurant so everyone was six feet apart, supplied everyone with masks and sanitizer.”

     While there were a lot of businesses that suffered from the lockdown, other companies thrived. There was an immense demand for products such as food, medical equipment and hand sanitizer.

     Noah Stox, Rose alumnus and CEO and founder of East Coast Kettle Corn, had conflicting views when it came to the success of his business after the lockdown. 

     “[Before the lockdown]...every day after school I would go door to door to businesses around town and sell about 20 bags in 2-3 hours,” Stox said. “Once COVID hit, all the businesses shut down, so then I stopped going door to door.”

     This summer, he was granted the opportunity to take his business to new heights following being put on standby due to the virus. The owner of Parker’s Barbeque, a close family friend of Stox, reached out to him and asked if he would like to house his kettle corn stand in the parking lot at the 2020 Greenville Blvd SE location. 

     “The first day I set up here I think I sold about 107 bags during the day, so I just kept staying here for the rest of [the lockdown],” Stox said. 

     Businesses across Pitt County have experienced detrimental changes to their company due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Some thrived while others endured hardship limiting their company's growth. Moving forward businesses are working to get their profits up as Phase 3 of Cooper’s plan will now encourage them to do so. 

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