Gen Kurtz and Tom Hundley, owners of Gypsy Wagon Print Co., have created Harrison Strong and Indiana Strong T-shirt campaigns to raise money for local businesses during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Sydney Murray/The Harrison Press
Businesses look to future as Ohio starts to reopen
Ohio has begun restarting its economy, with the first steps taking place on May 1, when some medically necessary procedures were allowed to move forward.
On May 4, offices and manufacturing, distribution, and construction businesses were allowed to reopen if they could meet mandatory safety requirements for customers and employees.
On May 12, consumer, retail and services will be allowed to reopen if they can also meet the safety requirements, which include practices such as limiting capacity to meet social distancing guidelines, having employees wear face coverings, cleaning and sanitizing workplaces, and conducting health assessments of employees.
Some businesses must still remain closed, including schools, daycares, the dine-in portion of restaurants and bars, salons, older adult daycare services and senior centers, adult day support or vocational rehabilitation services in group settings, entertainment and recreation businesses, and gyms.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is forming two advisory groups to develop best practices for reopening dine-in restaurants and salons, and local businesses are also working to figure out their plans for reopening.
Parlour on the Avenue
Although at press time no date has yet been set for when salons can reopen, Parlour Owner Susan Bourquein said she plans to open May 18, pending the governor’s approval.
Between the salon’s Harrison and Aurora locations, she said they serve about 300 clients per week.
To keep customers and employees safe, Bourquein said they will have hydrogen peroxide to clean surfaces, hand sanitizers throughout the salon, face shields for employees, and masks and gloves for anyone who needs them.
They have also taken advantage of this down time to spruce up the salon and give it a deep clean.
May is usually their biggest month, and since they posted that they hope to be open the 18th, they have already had customers book appointments.
“I just hope we get back to work soon,” said Bourquein.
She said she feels for anybody that has contracted the virus, but also thinks if businesses don’t open soon, there will be a huge depression down the road.
The salon has been closed since the end of the day on March 18, and she has had to rely on her savings, or she would be out of business.
So far, she hasn’t been able to get help from organizations like the Small Business Administration, and said she feels like small businesses aren’t receiving anything.
Green Acres Canoe Rental
Green Acres Owner Sharon Lutz said they will be ready to open May 12, and have their first day in business once the weather and river conditions are good.
This is about the time of year Green Acres always opens, but Lutz said their business model will look very different than in other years.
“It’s not gonna be what people are used to,” she said.
After two months of family meetings, Lutz said they decided they will start out the season only letting adults 18 and older on the river, for only the eight-mile trip, and only in single kayaks.
Reservations will also have to be made online.
Dogs and children will not be permitted, and patrons won’t be able to use double kayaks, canoes, rafts, tubes, or go on a shorter trip.
She said business will be a fraction of what they normally do to keep numbers down and keep the community safe.
She said they are considering these rules to be “phase one” restrictions and they don’t know how long phase one will last.
They will have to sanitize every paddle and kayak that is used and she said cleaning equipment and supplies cost thousands of dollars.
They have also eliminated their food truck, grills, picnic tables, and corn hole games.
Gypsy Wagon Print Co.
Gen Kurtz and Tom Hundley, owners of Gypsy Wagon, also said they feel like the government isn’t helping the “little guys.”
Hundley said the shutdown situation is killing them and he knows they aren’t the only business with problems.
Kurtz said a lot of their business come from people getting items such as spirit wear, or for events, such as bachelorette parties, weddings, or reunions, but these events aren’t happening and people are cancelling orders. She said she hasn’t had any income since this situation began and is worried about businesses’ ability to bounce back.
“I’m just sad for our little town, really,” said Kurtz. But, she also wanted to do something to help the situation and initiated the Harrison Strong and Indiana Strong campaigns where local businesses could get
their logo on a T-shirt.
The shirts have been sold for $20, with $10 going to Gypsy Wagon and the other $10 going into a collection that will be split among these businesses.
So far, she has sold more than 200 shirts and at least $1,740 has been raised for Harrison businesses, and $570 for Indiana businesses. Customers can visit the Gypsy Wagon Facebook page for more information
about the fundraiser.
When they reopen, she said they are probably going to only allow one customer in the store at a time, and will have hand sanitizer, and face masks if needed.
Even after reopening, Kurtz said she is still worried they won’t be getting business because events and social gatherings still won’t be taking place.
But, they have been able to adapt some and get used to the “new normal” by selling hundreds of Harrison Wildcat face masks. She is hoping by mid-May to offer customizable masks to customers.
Harrison Branch Library
Harrison Senior Branch Manager Michelle Elliott said it will be a gradual process to reopen the library to the public, but for now, it does still serve patrons remotely and through online resources.
Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County locations have been physically closed for many weeks, and the organization expects to see a shortfall in the budget, said Elliott.
This situation has resulted in furloughed workers, including four employees at Harrison that each worked 12 hours a week, and another eight staff members who have had their hours reduced by 75 percent.
Elliott said these positions will be reviewed every two weeks, and administration also took pay cuts.
As the library recovers from the pandemic, Elliott said people will be called back to work, but they don’t yet know what that looks like, and reopening is still up in the air.
But, until then, the library system is still assisting people over phone, email, and chat. They have also made it easier for people to get a digital library card, and Elliott said there have been more than 3,000 sign ups for e-cards since they closed.
Elliott said they want people to be able to access materials and resources during the closure, and patrons have downloaded almost 500,000 materials during this time.
She said there are many people that rely on the library for reading materials, education, and entertainment, and it’s nice to be able to provide that content to people in Hamilton County.
The library has also been doing things like story times on Youtube, some stuff on Facebook live, and programming for adults, and Elliott said she thinks they are doing a good job providing services with restrictions they have to follow.
She said the whole reason she is a librarian is to help people and she is passionate about being able to provide service to customers.
“I miss it so much,” said Elliott. “I miss being able to help people every day in a way that’s familiar.”