Local businesses use creativity to stay afloat during pandemic

Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 6:29 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The pandemic is hurting everyone’s health and a bit of their wallet. But when it comes to the economy, the small businesses are bearing most of the brunt.

Business owners at home are not giving up. Instead, they’re testing out new ideas to make sure they stay in business.

You’ve probably seen it: things like outdoor dining and curbside pickup.

Small businesses are doing everything they can to stay open and trying to preserve downtown as we know it.

Some places are closing. Others are changing their hours. Many are trying to hang on.

“Before this, we felt we had a good momentum going into a new era, and everything just stopped,” said Eric Kinlaw, owner of The Hive and Bee’s Knees.

Kinlaw and his business partner, Kristi, continue to keep their dining rooms closed, trying to survive on outdoor business.

“After a few weeks, we realized that wasn’t really going to sustain us revenue-wise. We started talking about doing the market,” Kinlaw said.

The market is their Beehive Essentials virtual market -- a new idea to sell their breads, sauces, and growlers in bulk. You just go to their website and order or get it delivered through Augusta To-Go.

“We are just trying to expand and change our business model a little bit, so we can just be more to different things or different needs,” Kinlaw said.

Over at Cafe 209, they’re getting creative with offering curbside only because many of their customers are older.

“We’ve mastered curbside service. It’s been amazing. We have a lot of new customers coming, and we have a lot of our regular customers come out to get lunch,” Cassandra Brinson of Cafe 209 said.

Brinson says it’s keeping her business going. With foot traffic expected to stay low without downtown events, many local businesses need help.

“When this is all said and done in a year or however long it’s going to be, we may not have a lot of these local businesses and Augusta’s going to be a different place because of it,” Kristi Kinlaw said.

The Downtown Development Authority says these businesses need overwhelming support.

Buy your bread from a local place, like the Hive, instead of a big box place. And it could help them make it through the fall.

The authority says Paycheck Protection Program loans will run out soon. But there are a couple of new businesses opening this fall, so there’s some hope for the next few months.

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