Local Businesses Learn To ‘Roll With The Punches’
Frank Besse, Jamestown Renaissance Corp. Urban Core director, said he has seen a lot of optimism about being able to move forward. Besse said businesses are trying to figure out how to have a functioning local economy while the pandemic persists and “figure out the best ways to handle that reality as it changes.”
“The struggle is kind of projecting into the future of what will happen,” he said. “It seems like a higher priority is the uncertainty of the future, but then also the supply chain issues, pricing and things like that are something more that’s coming up.”
Besse said while the pandemic has been devastating, businesses have rallied and found creative ways to survive and even thrive.
“You’ve seen some of the infrastructure changes — like Plexiglas in more places like the Pub or Labyrinth, for example,” he said. “Then you see businesses like Paces making a great outdoor dining spot — (they’re) taking ideas that were good before COVID and now they totally make a lot of sense.
“I think the same thing goes with some online ordering. You’ve seen either businesses get on board with that or just improve the things they’ve already had. If COVID were to go away tomorrow, you’d probably see all those businesses keep that online ordering and keep that outdoor seating, so there’s some silver lining here. The kind of resiliency that some businesses have been able to build into their model is something we should celebrate.”
Besse said some businesses have closed throughout COVID, but many have come through it even stronger than before.
“If you go back to April of 2020 and you honestly (think about) what you were thinking was happening and what could happen then, at least for me personally, I thought things were going to be a lot worse from an economic development standpoint,” he said. “All these businesses chose different paths to get to the other side, and many of them are getting there. There are a lot of ways to get here and you can see all of them in kind of the downtown economy.”
Besse said it is heartening to see how invested so many local businesses are in the community that they would say “we’re gonna get through this — we’re staying.” He offered a word of encouragement to those businesses in the downtown Jamestown area.
“There is an opportunity for small businesses to adapt and change and make decisions,” he said. “There are great resources that are available — I wish there were more — but there are some resources, so it’s important that we all communicate and work together. I see that happening, and I’m very optimistic about that. I think that folks are dedicated to the community and dedicated to small business can find success even though the uncertainty could continue. But I would also like to congratulate those who have been able to navigate this.”
Andrea Latona is one of those downtown business owners who have grown and flourished throughout the pandemic. Her business, Full Moon Rising Bakery, has expanded its online business and has picked up customers such as Apple and Pinterest throughout the ordeal.
“Nothing is the same as it was before the pandemic for sure, but we just kind of roll with the punches,” she said. “I’m literally, as we speak right now, packaging up some cookie kits to mail out because I probably do maybe 50% of my business online now, shipping across the country.”
Latona said the shop initially closed up at the beginning of the pandemic for customer and employee safety, but she was then able to open the shop for a bit by herself. She began mailing items out at that point, which became very popular. At one point during the Christmas season, she closed her shop due to the overabundance of business.
“I have custom cookies and do-it-yourself cookie kits,” she said. “Last Christmas I was so busy with corporate orders like Apple and Pinterest and a couple other really huge companies ordered like hundreds of kits and I shipped them out, and I did some virtual classes with them. That’s why I had to close — I was so busy shipping cookies to Apple and Pinterest. Pinterest ordered my cookie decorating kids, decorated them and sent me a pin of it. I lost my mind.”
Some things have changed at the shop, including the loss of indoor seating. However, Latona said customers don’t mind as they generally take their goodies home. The excess space has made it possible for her to display more items for sale, and “have more plants out,” she added.
Full Moon Rising Bakery is located at 122 E. 3rd Street in Jamestown.
Another downtown favorite is The Pub. Sam Lisciandro, the general manager, said everything has been going well since the restrictions were lifted earlier this summer. Lisciandro said The Pub never lost an employee and everyone was able to return to work after they re-opened.
“(Regulars) were waiting to come in,” he said. “We are still trying to separate (people) a little bit — but not as much as we were. As you can see, there are not as many tables in this area, so there’s still more room to wander around. But, I think more people are coming out. Even in the last week or two, the numbers have dropped — I feel like more people are coming out.”
Lisciandro said one major lesson he learned from the pandemic is that it is OK to be out of something.
“Because of the shortages, it’s just the way it is now,” he said. “Now there are just some things you’re not going to be able to get or something things you can’t get because the prices went up. Meat prices are crazy — we don’t serve chicken wings, but I know a lot of other places are having issues with chicken wings.”
Lisciandro said The Pub shortened the menu a little when they reopened, but the customers don’t seem to mind. He said they always find something else delicious to order instead.
The Pub is located at 209 N. Main St. in Jamestown.