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Customers slow to visit some businesses after reopening

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The open signs might be on, but that doesn’t mean business is booming for local businesses.

Some businesses have been open for more than two weeks now, but owners said they are not seeing the foot traffic they expected.

“Since we’ve reopened, we’ve probably gotten back up to about 25% of our business,” said Dawn Keene, owner of Ideal Feet.

Keene said she has changed the inside of her store to fit state guidelines, but she’s not seeing the amount of business she once did.

“As a new business, that was very detrimental to us because we were just starting to gain our momentum,” said Keene. “So in our first year of business, that’s the worst thing that could’ve happened.”

Much like other local shops, employees at Ideal Feet were laid off.

“We will be bringing them back, but at this point, I can’t justify bringing back in and the extra payroll at this point,” said Keene.

The Wichita Independent Business Association (WIBA) said small local businesses are having a tough time and are unable to generate new customers, network, and keep the pipeline going for new business.

“They’re certainly open for business but it’s just slow,” said Alicia Holloway, president of WIBA. “Customers are either afraid or concerned or just slow to return.”

Holloway said other businesses and organizations like Visit Wichita have also had to lay off employees.

“They let go eight of their people because the revenue and the hotel industry has been impacted so severely,” said Holloway. “That’s where they generate their revenue.”

Other types of businesses are seeing quite a bit of business or a rollercoaster of demand for services.

“Obviously, we have less business, that’s all there is to it,” said Robin Lies, co-owner of Burnell’s Fine Jewelry. “I think it’s just going to take a little time for everyone to get back in the swing of things.”

Burnell’s Fine Jewelry’s owners said they’re happy to see customers come through the door.

“People are testing the waters period with everything they do,” said Lies. “I don’t think it’s our business more than anything else.”

With the next steps of the pandemic in the hands of county officials now, businesses are just hoping for the best.

“It is in the back of our minds,” said Keene. “What happens if the doors close again? There are many business out there, if the doors stay closed for very longest they’re not going to survive.”

The WIBA is offering resources to small local businesses and officials plan on reopening small group classes for business owners in June.

Holloway said like the business owners, those at WIBA are also remaining optimistic as everyone learns to navigate through life during and after COVID-19.

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