Local businesses find new ways to stay open during coronavirus pandemic

Posted at 9:22 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 10:01:40-04

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Area businesses are innovating, coming up with new ways to reach customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are going to extra lengths to make sure they have a business to return to once the virus runs its course.

For Tina Soeberl, every cup of coffee adds up.

“I start every day two dollars at a time with a cup of coffee," Soeberl said. "But that two dollars matters so much. That two dollars matters just as much as 222 dollars."

Soeberl, the owner of College Hill Coffee Company, said the past few weeks have been tough.

“We’re playing real life 'Survivor,'" Soeberl said. "Real life 'Survivor.' I’m looking for the immunity idol.”

Just like the reality game show, her strategy is to outwit, outplay and outlast the pandemic.

“It’s planning by the seat of your pants," Soeberl said. "Each night you come up with the next tricks for the next few days. There’s no time."

Now, inside the College Hill Coffee Company, lies a makeshift farmer's market.

“We started telling people we were having a mini market," Soeberl said. "We sold out of bread within an hour. This week creative, trying to do different things.”

From face mask kits to artwork to knickknacks, the tables are full.

"We went from a staff of 24 to a shoestring," Soeberl said.

Now they number just three -- but they're all here to help.

“The giving back comes back to you 10 times over,” Soeberl said.

Some businesses aren't fortunate enough to be considered essential, but that's not stopping the owners of Two Little Buds. The flower shop was forced to get creative to keep their business blooming.

In rural Butler County, florist Mindy Staton can be found in her red pickup truck

“Our solution was to try to bring as much joy to people as we could through flowers," Staton said. “Tulips, daffodils, ranunculus, anemones.”

Two Little Buds' new strategy -- pay what you can.

“People are being very generous," Staton said. "I think they’re actually paying more for what they would be at our retail store. Which is just, I think, the human spirit.”

Mindy and her husband, Josh, said it's hard to know what the future will bring.

“Most of our events have canceled or postponed through May," Staton said. "Which is most of our income.”

The duo said they were surprised once they got their farmstand up and running.

“I was amazed the first day we did it. I pulled out the driveway, and I could barely get out of the driveway,” Josh Staton said.

They saw an outpouring of support -- they sold out from online ordering.

“We need flowers in our lives," Staton said. "We need something bright. Happy. Something to get our minds off this.”

Even in the darkest of times, communities are finding ways to brighten lives.

“(People are) thanking us for being open," Staton said. "Every time that happens it’s like this is the reason. We’re going to keep going. We’re going to keep going.”