Despite being able to reopen at limited capacity, many small businesses are still struggling with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Confections, a downtown Lufkin stop for sweets and lunch items for 11 years, recently posted new hours on Facebook in attempt to save money and stay in business.
Miranda Dolder, co-owner with Dawn Cooley and Felicia Tetu, said they felt the effects of the pandemic immediately. In addition to walk-ins, the business relies on events like teacher luncheons to survive, so when the schools closed and everyone began canceling their events, they were in trouble.
“People were scared, and we were scared because we didn’t know what was going to happen,” Dolder said. “We’ve been on edge.”
That hasn’t stopped.
Business has still been down, and ingredients have gone up in price. Dolder said if they don’t sell items, those ingredients go to waste. While they can donate cookies at the end of the week, they can’t really donate cream and butter.
When they opened the store, the idea was to make money and fill a niche, Dolder said. At the time, no one downtown was offering a spot for sweets. Over time, they grew to add lunch items and cupcakes and more.
She said one of her favorite parts of being in business is watching people be happy, especially during the pandemic.
“I love spreading joy and happiness,” Dolder said. “When the pandemic first started, we were open, and people would come in like the walking dead. Everyone was so scared. The kids were at home, parents would come and Facetime cookies for the kids, and I had a lot of parents tell me that gave their kids joy. Looking at what cookies we had was something to look forward to because they couldn’t go out or visit friends.”
Dolder said it is hard to beg in times of trouble, but the community of Lufkin is an amazing place with many good people.
From large orders to walk-in buys, Dolder said they would appreciate the community’s support during this time. Their current hours include 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
The pandemic woes do not stop at Confections, however. Many businesses around the city are feeling the heat. Andrew Harbuck, owner of Standpipe Coffee House and A Furniture Fetish, said business has been down, particularly at the coffee shop.
Standpipe has seen a dip in business near 40-50% since the pandemic began. Both businesses were closed for a month, and the lobby in Standpipe has remained closed.
“A lot of our regular customers have taken up the curbside ordering, but it’s been a challenge as far as taking extra precautions as far as cleanliness but also meeting our customers’ needs while we don’t have those meeting spaces,” Harbuck said.
Standpipe was born in 2011, and A Furniture Fetish came shortly after in 2012. Harbuck said the goal for A Furniture Fetish was to provide a place to help people find and sell furniture.
For Standpipe, they wanted to provide a community space for people to gather. That is one of the reasons the pandemic has been a special challenge during the pandemic.
“While we are open for take-out, we haven’t been able to provide that community space,” he said. “We have curbside, we have take-out, but that’s what Standpipe does especially well — creating that space.”
Harbuck said in addition to visiting the businesses for take-away, he said treating hourly employees with respect also would be appreciated.
“A few members of the community have been frustrated with our mask requirements, and treating our employees with kindness and respect over that (would be appreciated), especially since they don’t have the control over it,” he said.
A Furniture Fetish lobby is open for individuals to view and sell furniture. Standpipe is operating through take-out service, and customers should call 632-7473 to place an order and drive into one of the two spaces for pick-up.
Any small business in Angelina County that is still struggling during the pandemic is invited to apply for the We Love Lufkin small business grant fund instituted during the city of Lufkin’s Tuesday meeting.
The city qualified for approximately $500,000 from the CARES Act to reimburse the costs of business interruption due to COVID-19. The applications will be reviewed by members of the Hotel/Motel Tax Fund Board.
For more information on the grant, visit cityoflufkin.com.