Local People Are Adapting, Working With Change
It seems that no matter what one does for a living or for leisure, adaptation is necessary during this time of shutdown. We are all having to adjust our shopping, dining, worship and recreational habits, but no two are exactly the same. The following people have made changes in the way they serve others.
Todd and Wanda Johnson at Lottsville Milling Inc. are doing dockside pickup for their customers.
“I moved my door sensor outside and can hear the chime when someone backs in. I meet them on the dock,” said Mrs. Johnson. “A lot of people call in their order and we have it ready.”
She posts pictures of the perishable items they have available on her Facebook page, but most of their clientele are regulars who know what they handle.
“I see the same people every week or every other week. People are impulse buying,” she added.
The couple, who are only the fourth owners of the mill since 1908, purchased the business in 1996. It has been Todd’s home for 35 years, when he was hired by the previous owner. At this time of year, the mill offers lime-spreading services and the farmers are buying agricultural seeds and fertilizer.
“Every farm is unique because everyone is unique,” she said.
She has noticed an upswing in their business.
“We’re busy because spring is here. There is always business in a time like this. The irony about our business, when things get weird in the economy, my little feed mill thrives. People start raising animals,” she said. “As the seasons change, my business changes.”
Joe Town, owner of Pace’s Pizzeria in Jamestown, said “We’ve tailored business hours and we only have takeout with curbside pickup and delivery.”
Pace’s offers wine and beer to go with special pricing for the beer. Pre-baked pizzas for baking at home or storing in the freezer for another time and kid-size make-at-home pizza kits are other offerings.
“The original intention of the make-at-home pizzas was to have them throughout the pandemic to give kids something to do while they are at home.”
He is trying to keep things as normal as possible. He divides all gratuities evenly between hourly employees, whether they are present or not, “to help keep income coming in for them,” Town added.
A few weeks ago, he collaborated with Charles Pringle of Holiday Harbor Marina to supply 60 pizzas to the cafeteria of UPMC Chautauqua for the workers to enjoy. Town decided to make a four-week challenge to supply pizza to first responders and front-liners when his customers started offering donations to send more pizza. Some customers have donated as many as 16 pizzas.
“The main reason for the four-week challenge was to spread positivity. People could reach out on Facebook or call or message me,” Town said. “Within two hours of opening it up to the public, I had to shut it down.”
Over four weeks, 330 16-slice pizzas will be given with Pace’s Pizzeria donating half of them. Also pizzas will be provided for UPMC’s night shift, all shifts of Jamestown Police and Jamestown Fire Departments, both shifts of EMS (ambulance and helicopter), all shifts of Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department, including dispatchers and jail workers, Evergreen Health Services, Mental Health Association at Gateway Center, Lane Women’s Group, ACL Labs, New York State Police (Route 60 Barracks) and Lakewood-Busti and town of Ellicott Police departments.
In order to have use of the two brick ovens for regular business, the donated pies are made and delivered on Thursdays, a day when the business is closed. Every pizza is made by hand by Town, his wife, Alyvia, and Holly Barlow, an employee.
“I’m definitely a wartime CEO. I like the pressure,” he says. “I work well under pressure and I like to innovate. There’s a difference between acting irrationally and pivoting. We pivoted and said ‘we’re going to do this.’ Our little pizzeria has become a beacon of hope.”
Throughout this trying time, Town urges area residents to support all local restaurants and bars. He personally buys dinners out two nights per week.
Russell Hayes has been a dedicated truck driver since 1981. He currently drives a food tank truck for Store and Haul from Bellevue, Ohio to North East, Pa., carrying soybean oil used for making salad dressings. He is able to sleep in his own bed most nights, but on occasion spends overnights on the road, such as three recent nights. The current restrictions caused by COVID-19 have had positive and negative results for Hayes.
“The lack of traffic is good. There is no bad time of day in Cleveland. You can breeze through, even at 4:30,” said the Randolph resident.
On the downside, he is no longer allowed to use his insulated coffee mug for refills, so each cup costs $1 more than he previously paid. Restrooms are not as readily available as they were pre-pandemic, therefore he must plan visits. He had been accustomed to going into the break room, using the restroom and getting a hot cup of coffee at the facility where he picks up his load. With the new restrictions, he is limited to being in the truck or in one of the porta-potties in the parking lot. Recent cold, windy weather does not make for comfortable outhouse visits and he actually saw one that had been blown over by strong winds.
He used to consider a facility in Austinburg, Ohio to be clean, but now with all of the talk about safety, he wonders if it really is clean.
“I’m now more careful about what I touch and wash my hands more often. The company I work for gave me hand sanitizer. You could get crazy,” he says when telling about a man he witnessed in a Sheffield, Ohio Aldi Store who was wearing a beekeeper-like suit.
He is glad he has always carried his own food, because access to food is limited.
“I try to be self-sufficient. They only allow drive-thru and I was never one for fast food,” he added.
Since he runs the same route, he knows where he can sleep and where he can stop.
“Usually, I’m against the clock. Time is precious.”
Lakewood Apothecary and Natural Health Center pharmacist and owner, Jim Rovegno, said, “My girls have been troopers,” when referring to the extra steps they have been taking to serve the customers.
“The first discussion was how do we want to handle the social distancing and how do we protect our staff,” he added. “We made a decision to limit access by having customers call from the parking lot.”
The business has maintained regular hours. Employees wear masks when they deliver orders to customers awaiting outside. During last week’s cold, snowy days, customers who were wearing masks were invited to step into the vestibule. The store has been delivering to the homes of some of the older shut-ins, as well.
“My wife likes to use the term ‘we are also a frontline business,’ “ he said. “We’re blessed that our employees are still here. Business has been hurt somewhat because people don’t have the ability to browse.”
Rovegno had owned pharmacies in the Erie area, but after residing many years on the grounds at Chautauqua Institution, decided he would open a business on a vacant lot in Lakewood. At 61 years old he moved into the new building where he distributes prescription drugs and provides the option of alternative healthcare where he offers a more natural approach.
One of just three remaining independent pharmacies in Chautauqua County, he is able to provide old-fashion service, with the motto being “We always have time for you.”