HARRISON, Ark. — At Neighbor’s Mill Bakery & Cafe in Harrison, owner Mike Nabors is adjusting to a new “normal” he never expected.
“It’s not like anything we would have ever imagined,” he said.
Since Arkansas started confirming COVID-19 cases and the state ordered dining rooms to close, Nabors has had to scale things back.
“We realize we’re just one of millions,” he said.
Neighbor’s Mill can only offer curbside and drive-thru pickup, which means Nabors can only keep about 15 of his 50 employees working at a time right now.
A couple of miles south, retail businesses, like Frenzy of Harrison Boutique, are taking a page out of the restaurant playbook.
“So we’re seeing a lot of people place orders to pick up, do curbside, and we offer free local delivery every day, so we’ve seen a lot more of those,” said Emily Powers, the owner of Frenzy of Harrison Boutique.
Banks, like Anstaff, are still delivering services too, but with lobbies closed, that means handling cash and paperwork through a drive-thru tube and window.
“We’re closing loans, opening new accounts, of course continuing to handle people’s transactions,” said Scott Miller, the market president at Anstaff Bank.
“Our small businesses, it’s hard. They’re the ones that are going to hurt the most,” said Harrison Regional Chamber of Commerce Pres. Bob Largent.
But big business is feeling the pain of pandemic, too. Pace Industries laid off more than 450 workers in Harrison Wednesday. The die-casting plant hopes the move is temporary.
“All of their employees were prepped to take advantage of all of the governor’s enhanced waivers for unemployment insurance, so we hope that’s back on track,” Largent said.
Getting the local economy on track again could take a long time, which makes the unexpected good news that still pops up these days mean even more to Mike Nabors.
“We had a lady yesterday buy a loaf of bread and leave a $43 tip for our staff. And so there’s lots of goodness out there,” Nabors said.
The chamber of commerce is also selling gift cards at $25 increments for all restaurants that want to participate in the area to try to keep them in business. The website for that is web.harrison-chamber.com/events/Restaurant-Gift-Cards-11/details
The Chamber of Commerce also said Wabash National plans to have more than 250 employees back at work on Monday. The plant was closed temporarily for a reason not related to the coronavirus issue, according to Largent.