Businesses switch gears to survive pandemic crisis

Back Street Grill and many other Salisbury-area restaurants are offering carryout and delivery during this coronavirus restrictions.

Spring is supposed to be the busy season at Edit Downtown Salon. Weddings, proms and the salon’s annual sale with 20 percent off hair color traditionally account for a large chunk of the small business’ profits. 

But like other businesses considered nonessential, the Salisbury salon was ordered closed as of 5 p.m. Monday by Gov. Larry Hogan as a measure to help control the spread of the coronavirus.

Edit’s owner Marissa Petrack said she saw it coming and made the decision to shut down on Saturday because a lot of her customers work in health care.

“We can’t risk it and neither can they,” she said.

Business in recent weeks had taken a downturn as customers stayed away and wedding plans are being scrapped. Petrack said six brides who had arranged for her to style hair for their wedding parties have cancelled. Five more have rescheduled and two are still deciding what to do.

Additionally, her dog training and dog day care facility Fetch in Fruitland has closed.

“You have to do what you have to do for the community,” she said.

Edit was one of the Downtown businesses that had remained open, while others like Downtown Bridal and Dryden Dress Co. opened by appointment only, said Laura Soper, Salisbury’s Director of Business Development.

Gyms proprietors who were forced to close last week got creative by producing workout videos, renting equipment, streaming live yoga classes via Facebook, she said. And restaurants are actively promoting their daily carryout specials, while several businesses have sponsored meals from local restaurants to help feed healthcare workers.

But everyone is looking forward to when business can reopen and go back to normal, Soper said.

“No one’s going to begin taking that for granted anymore,” she said. “That’s the silver lining out of all of this.”

Closings ordered

Salons and barbershops are among the businesses that must close until further notice under Hogan’s executive order.

Restaurants offering carry out, liquor stores and day care centers can remain open. The order also does not include essential or critical services such as grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, health care, gas stations or banks.

Big box stores, such as Walmart, can remain open, but Hogan said his office is working with retailers to ensure they enforce social distancing.

Hogan also announced three programs to help small businesses weather the next few weeks and months.

  • Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund — This $75 million loan fund (for for-profit businesses only) offers no interest or principal payments due for the first 12 months, then converts to a 36-month term loan of principal and interest payments, with an interest rate at 2 percent per annum.
  • Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund — This $50 million grant program for businesses and nonprofits offers grant amounts up to $10,000, not to exceed 3 months of demonstrated cash operating expenses for the first quarter of 2020.
  • Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund — This $5 million incentive program helps Maryland manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment that is urgently needed by hospitals and health-care workers across the country. More details are expected to be announced by Friday, March 27.

Additionally, the U.S. Small Business Administration has declared seven counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore a disaster area, thereby making available financial resources for small businesses negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance per small business and can provide vital economic support to help overcome temporary loss of revenue.

These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. For additional information, visit SBA.gov/Disaster.

The Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce lists other resources for business owners who need help on its website. Visit salisburyarea.com.

Jobs available

While COVID-19 restrictions have forced job layoffs and closings, some area businesses that remain open are seing an increased demand for their services and they need extra workers.

Here are local employers who are hiring:

Peninsula Regional Medical Center: The hospital recently posted several openings on Facebook, including jobs in dietary service, environmental services and patient transport.

“If you are out of work, please take a look,” said hospital spokesman Roger Follebout. “We’re open for business.”

Visit peninsula.org for more information.

Walmart: The retailer which operates several stores in the region and Sam’s Club in Salisbury also has announced it is hiring because of strong demand at its stores.

The company plans to hire 150,000 new associates through the end of May. In Maryland, Walmart plans to hire more than 1,800 people to work in stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers, said Eric Hammond, a spokesman for the company. It was not immediately clear how many of those jobs are available on the Lower Shore. The jobs will be temporary to start, but could become permanent, he said.

Apply by visiting Walmartcareers.com or text “jobs” to 240240 to get started. 

Acme: The grocery chain is actively seeking workers at all of its store. The company website lists jobs in the Salisbury store in the pharmacy, deli, bakery and produce departments. It also needs meat cutters, cashiers and night crew clerks. For more information, visit albertsonscompanies.com/careers.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Maryland Department of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage

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