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Beverly, Waterford businesses adapt

A wide welcome at the B&W Pharmacy greets patrons in Beverly with masks expected upon entry to keep the small business in compliance with state mandates for retail businesses.

It’s been a little over 10 months since the COVID-19 pandemic upended most aspects of daily life.

Business around the Muskingum Valley had to adjust then and keep adapting throughout the year to safety recommendations, changes in customer habits and inventory issues.

After moving completely to curbside-only business for about a month last spring, B&W Pharmacy in Beverly has found what passes for business as usual these days.

“Things are pretty settled down,” co-owner Missy Huck said. “We provide masks to anyone who doesn’t have one.”

Curbside pickup is still an option for those who may be unable to enter the building or do not yet feel comfortable doing so. Rather than adding a plastic partition, a table placed in front of the pharmacy counter ensures customers maintain a proper distance when conducting transactions there. Regular cleaning and sanitizing are part of the effort to “do what we can to keep our staff and customers safe and healthy,” Huck said.

Staff members have been vaccinated in hopes that they can begin administering vaccines as well, although the government will determine that timetable, she said.

Despite the upheaval over the last year, business is good, Huck said.

“I feel like more people have been staying in town, shopping locally,” she said.

Lockdown conditions may also have delivered some new customers to Dough Boyz Pizzeria in Beverly, manager Lexi Skinner said.

“At the beginning, I think we actually saw kind of an increase in business” as people looked to delivery and takeout when dining in wasn’t an option, she said.

People can eat in the restaurant again, but there are still more delivery and takeout orders than in the past, Skinner said. Hourly sanitizing of equipment has been added to the daily routine, she said.

Although no workers have tested positive for COVID-19, they have had to deal with absences as potential contacts with those infected have been quarantined, Skinner said.

“(We’re) taking any illness kind of seriously, even if it might not be COVID-related,” she said.

Main Street Styles in Waterford closed for about two-and-a-half months as state officials tried to determine the best approach for salons and hairstylists to provide their services safely. When the two-person operation reopened, they welcomed back customers who had been left to their own devices for haircuts and coloring.

“We had some serious quarantine hair issues,” cosmetologist Sarrah Paxton said with a laugh.

Things are mostly back to normal now, albeit with masks, additional sanitizing and no walk-in services much to the frustration of some of their male clientele, she said.

But hair products and supplies are hard to come by, due in part to warehouses being shut down in the early part of the pandemic, Paxton said. And items like gloves and caps are being used more by people in other walks of life.

“It’s hard to get our stuff,” Paxton said. In some cases, “you’re paying quadruple what you used to.”

It’s not just hair care products.

The shelves at Southeastern Dry Goods and Trading Post in Waterford are more sparse these days as the pandemic has disrupted the supply chain over the last year, said Ginnie Offenberger, who owns the firearms and sporting goods business with her husband, Ted.

“The demand is high right now, and the supply is very low,” she said. “We get calls all day from all over, people looking for ammo and different guns.”

Italian firearms manufacturer Benelli Armi SpA shut down for three months because of the pandemic, Offenberger said. The Associated Press has reported rising demand in other states, citing the Remington Arms Co. filing for bankruptcy protections in July as another factor.

“Everything is really backed up. We cannot get any ammo right now,” Offenberger said, noting some customers have had to purchase it through auctions. “It’s going for nearly 10 times what it was prior to March.”

In Beverly, Jim’s Gun Shop owner Mike Bates attributes the rising demand to “panic buying” related to the unrest over the summer as some protests over racial injustice degenerated into riots. Bates said he can only receive five or six boxes of ammunition at a time right now, when they’re available.

“It used to be you’d buy a case (usually 10 boxes) at a time,” he said. “And the demand’s so high, you can’t keep up.”

However, because of the scarcity, Bates said customers are buying what’s available.

“I’m still getting enough. I’m not hurting,” he said. “It’s actually better than it has been.”

Bates and Offenberger both said a recent factor driving demand is the election of Joe Biden as president and concerns he and fellow Democrats in Congress could enact stricter gun control legislation.

“But it’s been going on since April,” Bates said.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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