Some local businesses reinventing themselves in the face of COVID-19

Pandemic forces many small businesses to reinvent themselves

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The federal government estimates 400 thousand small businesses, across the country, have been shuttered because of COVID. There’s no denying it’s been a tough year. Many businesses are having to re-invent themselves to stay afloat.

Jennifer Luper thought she owned a popular restaurant, living her dream. “First the hurricane, then COVID and we had to make some changes” said Luper. “When the governor restricted dining size, we knew we were going to have to something different in order to stay open.”

Now “8207 NOMA” has reopened with upscale take out, wine and bakery items.

“We tripled the size of our kitchen” says Luper. “It’s been a lifestyle change for us, as well. Now, we’re all home by 7:00 pm.”

“COVID changed over 26 years of business as a deli” says Chris Guarino.

Taste of Italy has been a staple along South College Road, now, for more than a generation. This Italian specialty deli has a loyal following. Any hour of any given day, you’ll see people lined up at the register. The deli now also expanding it’s take out options for people to prep at home. New freezer and cases taking the place of dining room chairs. Right now, the dining room remains off limits, and Guarino says, it may stay that way indefinitely.

“Possibly no longer having sit down in my store, that’s the one thing I’m really struggling with what I have to do” says Guarino. “We’ll have to see.”

Two Wheeler Dealer, is a popular bicycle store located at 4408 Wrightsville Ave, in Wilmington. It’s been there for four decades. Now the first thing potential customer’s notice approaching the store is an outdoor tent with a sign alerting people to changes.

“We chat with our staff, daily; how can we update, how can we adapt, how can we make it better for the customer” says Dillion Mincher. “It’s paying off. Sales have really been crazy around here.

These are just a few examples of local businesses that are trying to not only survive, but thrive, in the wake of COVID.

“You’ve got to be open to change. Everything has changed this year, how we get food, how we shop” says Mincher. “We just have to be open to change and not stuck in the old ways.”

“I call it the bizarre blessing of COVID” says 8207 NOMA’s Jennifer Luper. “For this business, we just found a silver lining is the only way to look at it. Trying to find good out of a very, very bad situation.”

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