Open? Closed? Still here!
As 24 of Pennsylvania's 67 counties move into the state's designation for opening up with caution, i.e., the yellow phase, several local businesses will be ready. Last week Governor Wolf said that mitigation efforts have shown to be helpful in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The counties that have managed to flatten the curve or keep the cases from rising will be allowed to slowly reopen for business.
Music to the ears of local business owners.
While many businesses have been shutdown for the past several weeks, their owners have stayed busy and took advantage of the time to get renovations done or even moved to new locations.
Prior to the shutdown, Tammy and David Bible had planned on relocating their shop to a sidewalk storefront on Liberty Street. The Olive Vault, which sells gourmet culinary items, was less than a year old but the Bibles knew they wanted more for their business. It was doing well, but Tammy said their location, tucked inside a building, wasn't what she wanted. She wanted to be able to see the street, so they arranged for a new space.
When the state shutdown happened, they simply closed up the shop to dedicate time to getting the new location ready.
"It was only gonna be a couple of weeks, we could use the time to be more productive in the renovating, but after the shutdown was extended, we decided we couldn't afford to be closed that long, so we opened with limited hours," she said as they finished up the new shop.
They couldn't speak highly enough about the community support they've had. "With everyone being home and restaurants limited, people have been cooking more." she said.
Buffalo Street Lanes had planned to do some improvement to their facility between leagues, but when the shutdown came they just moved the project up. It's a difficult time for a businees deemed entertainment. "The best way to support Buffalo Street Lanes and many other small businesses is to purchase a gift certificate to be used down the road when we can be open. That gets needed money directly to that business for them to utilize now," owner Jess Rudegeair said.
The Buffalo Street Lanes had some makeovers planned. The shutdown meant getting they could take care of some of that ahead of schedule. "We made the lower level all one level rather than having small baby steps down from the ball racks to the tables," said Jess Rudegeair, who owns the bowling alley with her husband Ryan. "We had intended to do this project in late April after our regular season leagues ended and before our summer league started. With the COVID 19 closure, we were able to move up the renovation project."
They know that opening up for them comes with great caution. "As a recreation center, Buffalo Street Lanes will be one of the last businesses to be allowed to open under the current plan," Rudegeair said. "I’m excited for our town and many of the businesses that can start to ease back into things but I also hope that everyone will be extremely cautious. We have been blessed to only have a handful of cases in Venango County and I want to keep all citizens healthy. Money comes and goes; economies are always in flux, but people and our bodies are irreplaceable."
Local apparel retailer Razzle Designs is moving a few blocks and adding Poppin' Sweet Shop, a treat shop, to the offerings at their new location. The owners have been renovating the space on West Park Street with a goal of being open soon. "We hope that we are able to give our new customers a unique and positive experience. A place that families can come and relax and enjoy a fun environment," said Amanda Rodgers, who owns the shop with husband Steve.
Tickle My Ribs opened up their Liberty Street location just in time for the stay-at-home order, but have been offering takeout every day.
The Country Grub restaurant in Polk took over an old store on Grant Street in Franklin and opened City Grub during the shutdown. Offering essential supplies, they were able to be open and serve their new community starting last last week.
The Franklin Clothing Exchange, a women's resale shop, is planning to open its Liberty Street store for the first time on Saturday.
Bella Cucina's shut down completely for a couple weeks to do some interior work to their restaurant but has opened back up for curbside pickup since,
"Together we are successful and together we are a strong community." Bible said about her fellow business people in Franklin. She stressed that people will be out and walking around the downtown again and business will return to normal. "And once things open up, the folks that come here because of our trails and other beauty will stroll the streets to see how we have fared through these tough times," she said.
The Rudegeairs are very cognizant of the people they serve as community business owners. "We understand that this is a difficult time for all of us, citizens and business owners, and it’s happening all over the world so rather than posting [on social media] all the time and trying to keep Buffalo Street Lanes relevant, we chose to remain quieter and in the background so people can focus on things that truly matter," said Jess Rudegeair.
To read more about the Governor's plan to reopen the state visit: