Think fast and pivot. In the Quad Cities, that is the strategy many business owners have had to adopt.
Business owners have had to quickly sift through issues that range from making payroll to sustaining weekly sales amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The approach for Murphy’s Restaurant, a staple in downtown Prescott, is no different.
On March 23, Murphy’s launched an online “mercantile” store and added it to its website home page where patrons now have access to buy anything from bacon to Frosted Flakes.
In the 1890s, the restaurant once operated as a mercantile and general store, and sold provisions such as milk and cheese to customers.
“We are extremely grateful to all the folks who have supported us during this time,” said Chad Burge, one of the restaurant’s owners. “We have had to combine all three of our restaurants (Murphy’s, Gurley St. Grill and Office Cantina) to open an online store and convert to take-out orders – all in a few days.
“The community has been amazing in response to what we are offering. We’ll continue to offer the best selection of meals and products we can.”
In March, Safeway began posting online ads calling for additional employees because of the increased grocery demand.
Nancy Keane, spokesperson for Albertsons Safeway, said stores are continuing to adjust the way their services are provided as a result of the pandemic. On April 8, the stores began a new policy of allowing 75 to 100 shoppers (the exact number varies based on the store size) inside at any given time.
“As we all continue to navigate through this public health crisis together, Albertsons and Safeway are continuing to do everything we can to prioritize the health and safety of our customers, our communities and our associates, and to ensure our customers have access to the food, medications and other essential goods they need at this critical time.”
The spokesperson said employees have taken “enhanced measures” to clean and disinfect all departments, restrooms and other “high touch points” throughout the day, while performing “a deep cleanse” in stores at the end of each business day.
She said plexiglass barriers have been installed in checkout lanes and tape is used to mark off spaces in aisles to remind customers of social distancing while they shop.
“We have placed posters around the store and marked off spacing on the ground to remind our customers to practice social distancing and remain six feet – essentially, two shopping carts – apart to avoid coming in contact with anyone who may have been infected by COVID-19 but [is] not yet exhibiting symptoms. We are constantly looking for solutions to help us improve this practice in our stores.”
According to Business Insider, the grocer is pushing to classify its employees as first responders to help give them priority for testing and to acquire protective gear.
Doug Baillie owns PuroClean, a Prescott Valley-based business that provides homeowners mitigation and restoration services to help fix homes that have been damaged from water, fire or smoke.
His company is offering “Coronavirus Clean-up” services to businesses that want to help stop the spread of viruses. Employees spray disinfectants approved by the Environmental Protection Agency to help contain germs. The company charges $1 per square foot.
Puroclean offers its services with electrostatic spraying systems, a process in which a cleaner is applied to a surface and an electric charge ensures the entire surface is covered.
The electrostatic spreads the cleaner out to hard-to-reach places such as cracks and crevices of desks and types of machinery.
“It spreads it out,” Baillie said. “[Other spraying systems] don’t get [the cleaner] in all places. The electrostatic does. It’s extremely effective. We are poised for that.”
The Navy veteran said he is confident the community can overcome this adversity.
“We are resourceful,” Baillie said. “We are strong. As a community, we will continue to combat this.”
Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli said most city employees have been working from home with a few exceptions since about mid-March. In April, the mayor helped organize a virtual town hall meeting for small businesses. The meeting was meant to give business owners some resources such as how to apply for business loans and information on the paycheck protection program, a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.
People “are concerned about their businesses, their jobs. So, it’s a troubling, difficult time,” Mengarelli said. “I think it’s important as leaders that we get out in front of these kind of situations. We have to face these head on. We have to be real about what we are facing.”
Mengarelli has regular Facebook video posts on the updated number of COVID-19 cases in Yavapai County.
The mayor said he hopes everything is back to normal in time for the World’s Oldest Rodeo in July.
“I hope [the video posts] help people realize that we are working as hard as we can to keep everyone safe and healthy,” Mengarelli said. “We are going to get through this together.”
For more information on coronavirus relief for businesses, visit sba.gov. QCBN
By Brent Ruffner