OGALLALA, Neb. (KNOP) - Changing tourism habits due to Coronavirus concerns are making businesses take a look at the way they do business.
The Ogallala and Keith County Chamber displays shirts they have for purchase made my a local business to create synergy among their area. (Source: Holly Barraclough, KNOP TV)
Many businesses and shoppers are changing their habits to abide by Directed Health Measure guidelines set forth by Governor Pete Ricketts and that is affecting revenue.
"It has severely affected our pocketbook," said Kathleen Bauer the co-owner of Front Street Steakhouse & Saloon, "We are down more than 50% of our sales that we would normally have this time of year and normally our summer show would be starting this weekend and because of the Directed Health Measures, we cannot start that, we were told potentially June 1st, if the governor doesn’t make changes to the DHMs."
Bauer said they have made several changes to the way they operate. "We did a little drive-up window initially on the side of our building so people could drive up and then mainly been doing takeout, but then we had to purchase all of the to-go boxes, those were huge expenses and figuring out the system of take out when you’re normally a dine-in restaurant is a huge adjustment."
Some little benefits have come from their time closed down. "The time that we were shut down, we have done a lot of deep cleaning, we did a little bit of repairs in the kitchen area that needed to be done that you just cannot do while you’re running daily seven days a week so that was a silver lining," said Bauer, "We have all kinds of things that are still going on, just a little bit different."
Many Ogallala business owners rely on large gatherings of people recreating at Lake McConaughy for a major chunk of their revenue and some businesses are having to think a little differently as they anticipate less people coming this summer due to the virus.
"It's been a lot quieter around here, we've had less customers in store, but we've tried to adapt we have spent some of the extra time we've had launching a new website, BuenzgiftsOG.com, so we've seen some traffic on that, people who didn't want to come in the store were able to go ahead and shop there and still support us so that was good," said Buenz Gifts owner, Shawna Knudsen, "I just started doing Facebook lives which I've never done before because I don't really like being on camera, but you do what you have to do to keep in touch with your customers and everybody's been so supportive."
The Ogallala Keith County Chamber said they doing all they can to support the businesses during these challenging times.
"We're here to help you, we're not saying we're the experts, but at least we gathered enough information to tell you where to go," said Chamber Executive Director, Karla Scott, "We even put a little 'open your doors up how-to' book together and we won't take credit for all the knowledge in there, but it was just all of the calls and webinars that were provided us as a chamber, we pulled that together so that if a restaurants re-opening, a hair salon reopening, they could just kind of see what best practices are out there."
Scott said they have seen great community support. "I think personally some of the benefits is the curbside service these businesses offer, we didn't even have deliveries other than your traditional pizza and to see that one of the businesses Valentino's listen to the need of the small town Brule, who doesn't have a restaurant and so every Thursday he takes pre-orders and takes down food for that community," said Scott, "He loads up his little car and he goes down there and the first Thursday he did it, it was 32 orders, so that's a great opportunity for him and a great opportunity for that community to take advantage."
The chamber is selling 'Keith County Strong' t-shirts designed by 5 Star Custom Designs to help create synergy among business owners.