Small businesses in Wollongong are seeing immense support from locals during the coronavirus pandemic. The community is purchasing produce from cafes and restaurants even more now than pre pandemic.
Wollongong has been hit relatively moderately with coronavirus with no recorded deaths. As of the 6 of April, 114 people in the Illawarra were diagnosed with the virus with only 15 of these from Wollongong. Although the spread within the city is being controlled, many services and shops have closed to help limit the virus’s progression. The few cafes and restaurants that have remained open are limited to takeaway and delivery only.
Ebony Beattie, owner of café Two Nine Five has been pleasantly surprised by the support the community has paid the small business,
“Our customer base has grown massively, everybody is definitely “supporting the local” which is AMAZING!”
The café only opened in September last year. Now due to the coronavirus, the shop has been forced to adapt in order to keep serving customers. As the business is one of the few to remain open, they are taking precautions to follow social distancing and hygienic practices. They are predominantly accepting card payments to limit the transfer of cash and directing customers to wait outside while their orders are prepared. Beattie says that to begin with, customers were “definitely on edge and unsure on how to approach each other when it came to ordering”. Despite this initial awkwardness, customers appear to have adapted and don’t hesitate when ordering from the café.
“Now that everybody has come to terms with what’s going on the interaction is a lot better.”
Two Nine Five is not the only hospitality service still operating during the coronavirus pandemic. Juiced Life in Figtree has re-opened after a short period of closure. Manager, Emarni Cooke says since re-opening a lot of regular customers have made an effort to support the small business.
“Instead of buying their normal, regular juices, they are buying extra large drinks to support us and adhere to stay at home rules as much as possible.”
Since the social distancing rules were first released by the government, the store has made alterations to ensure they are following these guidelines. There are clear 1.5 meter markings on the floor directing customers to social distance when ordering and waiting for purchases. The store has also increased hygiene levels by having hand sanitiser available for staff and cleaning the eftpos machine regularly. Cooke concludes that people have been “adhering to our social distancing measures” and overall showing great support to the business.
Even in the midst of the health crisis, there is still hope for our local small businesses.