How These Small Businesses Adjusted to Covid
Tacoma, Washington January 16th, 2021, we visited a few spots around the city and asked the staff how their business has been doing since Covid. Needless to say, each one is having a different experience and they truly have their own unique story as to how they've adjusted.
"We've actually been doing pretty good," says Monica of Sanford & Son Antiques. As she rang us up for some vintage prints they had on sale in a crate for $5 outside she said she credited a lot of walking traffic to McMenamins Elks Temple tourists that are staying in town but are looking for something to do, "I think people need a reason to get away but still be indoors, so they come to us to walk around and stay warm and dry". It sure does help they have multiple levels of what seems to be endless booths of all sorts to look at, it honestly takes more than one visit to see it all. She expressed her concern for the Temple as it's still fairly new to downtown Tacoma and cost quite a bit to build. Their seven-floor historic building includes multiple restaurants and bars that aren't able to be open for indoor seating yet. Instead, there are outdoor tents erected in front of the building with firepits to keep warm if one fancies some socially distanced food and beverage during their stay. A lot of the business they all receive on Antique Row can be credited to this travel lodge so they're all hoping it isn't being hit too hard with all the phase roll-backs.
Next, we visited Anthem Coffee shop in Old Town. Their door was wide open (in mid-January mind you and a big sign out front stating "Now Open for Indoor Seating!" As we walked in it was completely empty however, the tables and chairs have returned and the staff working the counter mentioned how afternoons are typically their downtime and have been even before the pandemic. "We're mostly just a coffee stand now," they both said in unison, "but our regulars still support us a lot and we're always still slammed in the mornings". At each business's discretion, they have the option to open again for indoor dining as long as they have all windows and doors open and can offer an "open-air dining" experience with enough ventilation to qualify for limited capacity. "Yeah it gets cold but, we'll take what we can get".
Incline Cider House off C Street, E9 Brewery off Fawcett, and The Spar in Old Town have all announced on their social media that they are open for indoor seating due to their abundance of windows and/or garage doors that open for maximum air-flow. Incline Cider stated yesterday on their Instagram that they're using an air-purifier and CO2 is being regularly monitored.
Bars are taking some of the hardest hits from the pandemic as they have the most strict rules in place, with pubs like Beer Star on 6th Ave, which doesn't serve food, having built a giant outdoor patio taking up nearly every parking space in front of their building, only to be told they had to shut down again due to Pierce County phases rolling back for bars. Most of their bartenders have left and moved on to different jobs or have been unemployed for nearly a year now. Peaks and Pints, one of the three bars owned by Tacoma locals, the Peterson Brothers, still allows a limit of two at a time to shop their vast beer cooler collection and get food-to-go but has not yet announced any news on whether they intend to open again with the new allowance of air-flow options for indoor dining and drinking.
One thing is very clear with all these storefronts across the board, and that is, they are dependent on locals supporting them in order to crawl through the other end of this unfortunate time for small businesses and the like. We've all said it a million times, but it couldn't be more true...we really are all in this together, Tacoma.