Business feeling impact of virus shut-down

Local business are starting to feel the effects of more people practicing social distancing to avoid spreading or contracting the coronavirus.

This Old Couch, 3930 Dayton Xenia Road in Beavercreek, sells vintage and antique products, including furniture and art; and plants, candles. Owners Bryan and Lori Lucas — Army and Air Force veterans — said their business has declined by about 25% since more cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Ohio.

“We know it’s getting worse,” said Bryan Lucas. “So we just expected this, less people are coming in the store. It’s understandable, because they have the fear of losing their jobs, so they wonder, ‘Do we really need a new piece of wall art when we might not have a job next week?’”

So Lucas and his wife Lori, a disabled Air Force veteran, started taking pictures of everything in their store and posting it online along with prices and other details. They also offered to ship items to customers, even if it’s across town, or deliver them to people’s homes and leave them at the front door to avoid coming in close contact.

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They also arranged for customers to pick up items in the evening when there are fewer people out, Bryan Lucas said. He said they are going to keep coming up with creative ways to serve their customers without endangering them.

Beavercreek Pizza Dive restaurant, located at 4021 Dayton-Xenia Road, has also come up with a creative way to continue serving customers, although they’ve cancelled several events, including a buffet and a candidates’ event, which they typically host the night before election day, said owner Theresa Geraci. In recent days they started a new concept called doorbell ditch delivery, she said.

Customers can place their orders online, and the restaurant’s delivery driver will put the food at the customer’s front door, return to her car and text or call the customers to let them know that their pizza’s been delivered. The delivery person will drive off after they see the customer come out and get the food, Geraci said. Doorbell ditch delivery has been successful so far, she said.

“We isolated my (elderly) mom,” Geraci said. “She’s been isolated for the last four or five days, so something like (doorbell ditch delivery) is a great delivery service for someone like her. It kind of defeats the purpose if they’re having contact with you.”

On Monday, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman hosted a conference call with Ohio business groups and leaders on the economic impact of the coronavirus health crisis and explores ways to help business owners such as This Old Couch and Beavercreek Pizza Dive.

“The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is not just a serious health crisis, but it is having a serious impact on Ohio’s economy, businesses both small and large, as well as their employees and their families,” Portman said in a statement after the call. “That’s why I’ve been working with my bipartisan colleagues in the Senate and with the Trump Administration to ensure that the legislation approved by the House last week truly helps not just our workers but also small and mid-sized businesses. I’m hopeful we can pass this legislation this week.”

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During the conference call, Portman also discussed relief that Congress can provide to help businesses weather the storm and protect the economy over the next few months, he said.

“I look forward to sharing the ideas and concerns that these folks raised on today’s call with my colleagues in the Senate as well as the Trump Administration so that we can incorporate them into the next legislative measures taken to address this crisis,” Portman said.

Some businesses, like Reza’s cafe and coffee roaster near the Oregon District, has stopped accepting cash to try to combat coronavirus. The business also stopped allowing customers to fill their coffee cups and coffee bean containers from home.

More than 76,000 people in the Dayton metro area work in leisure and hospitality and retail, which are industries that could be severely impacted by the unprecedented efforts to restrain the spread of the coronavirus.

Sunday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced he would expand unemployment benefits to workers whose employers closed or who were in mandatory quarantine for suspected infection

Workers who cannot work because of the pandemic will not be subject to normal requirements for receiving unemployment, such as having to actively seek work while receiving payments, according to Montgomery County Job & Family Services. Workers who do not have paid leave at their job will be eligible for benefits.

There is usually a one-week waiting period built into the application process, but that also is being waived.

“We want to be sure everyone has the ability to apply for these benefits,” said Montgomery County Commission President Judy Dodge in a statement. “This emergency is going to affect many people, and we’re focused on serving people in this time of need.”

Many public places that offer internet services have closed, including libraries and community centers.

Montgomery County’s Jobs Center, at 1111 S. Edwin C. Moses Blvd, is continuing to offer the public use of its computers to fill out online applications for unemployment benefits.

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Initial unemployment claims in the state were down 0.4% in the week that ended March 7, according to state data. However, claims were up nearly 83% to 9,910 the week prior, ending on Feb. 29.

On Sunday, the state received about unemployment 12,000 applications as bars closed and restaurants closed for dine-in business, said Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.

The state’s call line for unemployment benefits has a wait of about 1 hour and 40 minutes right now, and Ohioans should consider using the website if they have Internet access to help cut down on wait times, Husted said.

Some business such as This Old Couch, which has one employee, said they’ll continue to hang on to their staff while also being innovative.

“It’s almost a fight or flight,” said Bryan Lucas. “We are facing adversity; we can either shut the doors and go out of business or come up with creative ways to generate revenue.”

It’s too early to determine how much of an impact the pandemic will have on area businesses, but area Chamber of Commerce leaders expect things to get worse.

People who have lost work because of the COVID-19 emergency can apply online for benefits at or call 1-877-644-6562 (TTY available at 1-614-387-8408).

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