WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — As Central Georgians see more cases of coronavirus, businesses are wondering when they can re-open, how they can stay afloat, and what the future holds.
Some businesses are already feeling the effects.
"Well, it's only been a few days and it's affected us tremendously," The Party Store owner Kim Wendler said.
She said foot traffic has dropped to almost nothing.
"Since we are not to be in groups of 10 or more, so many things have been canceled," Wendler said.
Like so many other small businesses, she's having to get creative to keep her doors open.
One of Wendler's customers decided to have a birthday party for their daughter, but they're keeping it small with just family members.
"Her child is still getting her Frozen party favors and her party plates and cups and napkins and she will have her balloons and we will do curbside delivery," Wendler said.
Staying open and getting creative is exactly what the Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce is trying to help with.
"There are opportunities to still support our local businesses when people might be fearful of going into a business or an environment with other people," chamber CEO April Bragg said.
Bragg said they created the Robins Strong website to collect information from places like the CDC, local governments, and the North Central Health District to get all the facts in one place.
"We don’t have all the answers, and I don’t think anybody does right now. Our job at the chamber, and our focus, has been on gathering, filtering, and sharing information," she said.
They are also creating lists of restaurants and stores offering delivery or curb-side pick-up, small business resources, tools to work from home, and unique ways the community is helping each other in a time of uncertainty.
"There's a furniture store in town who will do an online consultation with you. People are still renovating their homes and other routine things," Bragg said.
The page is all about helping small businesses think of new ways to bring in money, but also bring a little positivity to the community.
They've introduced "Robins Reads," to encourage people to pick up a children's book, record themselves reading it, and then post it online. The chamber will compile them all and put them on the website.
Bragg said that platform could eventually include a motivational moment from a pastor or virtual jam sessions.
There is also a Facebook page called "Robins To-Go." Bragg says the page started out with 800 members and now it is up to 4,000.
"The chamber now has an opportunity to double down and focus on our members and focus on the businesses in our community and identify whatever ways possible that we can support them right now, but also as we look in the days and months and years ahead," Bragg said.
Wendler said even with proms, birthdays, and graduations being canceled, people can still celebrate.
"People still need to celebrate things and find joy in this crazy time that we’re living in right now, and just being at home. We can still celebrate things together," she said.
Bragg says if you are doing something unique to help your business, neighbors or employees get through this uncertain time, they want to know about it.
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