You don’t need to watch a broadcast or read a newspaper to see the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in Enterprise.
A drive downtown or trip around the Boll Weevil Circle will confirm nothing is normal.
Empty parking lots, however, don’t necessarily mean empty stores. In fact, the pandemic has forced some businesses to adjust their typical model and adapt or innovate new ways of doing business.
Regena Lacey and her daughter, Jessica Goodson, are business partners at All About Art Studio (AllAboutArtStudio.com). Typically, groups of people visit their business for a couple hours of fun. There is nothing typical about what’s going on lately.
“We’ve had to kind of think outside the box to keep things going,” Lacey said. “We’re not allowing an in-studio seating, even though it hasn’t been mandated yet. We’ve just taken seriously the responsibility of social distancing.”
Instead, they have started offering to-go art kits that can picked up curbside.
“We have paint your own pottery and canvas and wood,” she said. “We’re putting together customized kits for people who want to do that. We have posted all of our inventory online so they can view it from home and give us a call.
“They can pick out what they’d like to do and then we pour a customized pallet based on what they request and put together brushes and all the materials they need for a project. For pottery, we fire it here in our kilns, so they’re able to drop it back off curbside. We’ll call them when it’s ready to pick up and deliver to them curbside.”
All About Art on Tuesday started online watercolor classes. It also included a kit for a series of eight lessons covering all ages.
“They can in Facebook Live at 10 a.m. and we’re going to walk them through this series of watercolor projects,” Lacey said. “It’s something they can do for free from home if they have their own supplies, or we put together kits for each lesson.”
Lacey and Goodson had been talking about the online components of what they’re doing now long before the virus went, well, viral.
“We’d been debating about making the investment in time and materials to do that,” Lacey said. “But it forced our hand here. We decided this will be a great trial period and we’ll see how it does. Hopefully, it’ll be something we offer ongoing.”
Those innovations inspire Tammy Doerer, Enterprise’s Tourism Director, who said the city’s symbol — the Boll Weevil Monument — is “a reminder to us all that this city has the ability to triumph over adversity.”
“It reminds us all that in order to do that we must come together to seek advice and embrace change,” Doerer said. “With that spirit in mind our City Departments, Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Enterprise Program and Tourism have come together to help connect everyone to the things that are happening in Enterprise and resources that will not only serve them but serve our business and hospitality community as well.”
Chamber of Commerce Execute Director Erin Grantham said supporting the city’s local businesses is crucial at this time.
“In this time of uncertainty, they are working extra hard to not only comply with the rapidly changing health mandates, but finding ways to continue retaining employees and customers. These businesses are what keep our economy strong,” Grantham said.
The Enterprise Chamber has created a Resource Guide on its website at www.EnterpriseAlabama.com to help citizens find local, state and federal information rapidly. As well, we are updating via our Facebook page as often as possible.
While many restaurants are offering curbside service or delivery, that’s expanded to other businesses like Strickland Jewelers and Boll Weevil Soap. Cam’s Cotton is offering a special discount to those who shop online instead of in-store.
“Many of our local agencies such as Wiregrass United Way, Coffee County Family Services, Christian Mission, and Wiregrass 211 are trying to continue offering help and services to families and individuals that might need it most,” Grantham said.
Kay Kirkland, Special Projects Coordinator for the City of Enterprise, said city has been posting a lot of COVID-19 information on www.enterpriseal.gov. Kirkland reminds readers that, as important as it is to get information, it’s also crucial to avoid false or inaccurate information.
“The EMA also suggests everyone to check out this link from FEMA,” Kirkland said of www.fema.gov/Coronavirus-Rumor-Control. “It deals with myths and misinformation, and would be helpful to those who are confused about what is accurate.”
Cassidi Kendrick, Main Street Enterprise Director, said multiple posts to her organization’s Facebook page — Downtown Enterprise — Home of the Boll Weevil — details several restaurants that are offering curbside service, to-go orders and/or delivery.
“A new trend throughout our retail stores has been online selling and doing Facebook Live videos throughout their stores to showcase new products or services they are offering,” Kendrick said. “We have distributed signs for businesses to hang on their door letting customers know what services they are providing (curbside, shipping and/or delivery). Signs have also been place in front of a few parking spots on Main St. and College St. to designated curbside service at our Downtown restaurants.
“All of our businesses have been working hard to adapt and overcome this challenging situation.”