Driving through southwest Virginia, main streets look much different than they did a year ago. Business closures have left empty storefronts and for sale signs in windows and customers now are mostly wearing face masks or coverings.
As 2021 begins, business owners face a rapidly shifting landscape. The change is something owner Carrie Poff of Brown Hound Tree service in Roanoke knows all too well.
“We’ve all been slammed, from plumbers to contractors to our tree service,” Poff said.
While the pandemic has created many challenges for the business, the demand for services like hers has increased — especially when at-home orders were in place. But business is different, and the way many business owners operate is different too. They’ve had to adapt.
Those adaptations, often consisting of implementing new COVID-19 safety measures, cost money.
As vaccinations begin, an end to the pandemic is in sight, but business owners say the slow pace of inoculations has delayed the turnaround they have been counting on. Despite government assistance, the goal for many remains to simply hang on. Gov. Ralph Northam addressed the topic in this year’s State of the Commonwealth address.
“We need to take action to protect jobs, especially in small businesses. We all know our small businesses need a lot of help to make it through the pandemic. The restaurants, the small gyms, the barbershops and thousands of other small businesses that are struggling to keep the doors open,” Northam said.
Annette Patterson, president of the Advancement Foundation in Vinton, said state reports show a reduction in tax revenue.