Huntsville small business owners, managers worry about future with 3-week coronavirus shutdown

Williams cuts a client's hair at Fade Factory on Jordan Lane on Friday, March 27, 2020. Barbershops are part of a long list of
Marvin Williams cuts a client's hair at Fade Factory on Jordan Lane on Friday, March 27, 2020. Barbershops are part of a long list of "non-essential" businesses as determined by the state that must close to non-employees starting March 28, 2020, at 5 p.m.

'Non-essential businesses' as described in the latest health order are closed to non-employees.

Posted: Mar 27, 2020 10:50 PM
Updated: Mar 28, 2020 10:49 PM

As many businesses prepare for a three-week shutdown mandated by the new health order from the Alabama State Health Officer, they worry what will happen if three weeks isn't the end.

"I would rather know the ending and be able to plan for it than not know at all and have to juggle and come up with the answer," said Hillary Dunham, owner of Mint Julep Market in south Huntsville.

Dunham said she did what she could to put a plan in place before the state decided to shut things down. Her store, which specializes in gifts for events and special occasions, started doing curbside pickups and more online orders about two weeks ago. 

She said the decision was made in order to keep her customers and staff safer from the coronavirus.

"It's terrible because this is what you work for. This is your job and this is your passion and this is what you really love to do. And it just...it's a hard, it's a hard, hard thing," said Dunham.

Further up South Memorial Parkway, comic book and collectible shop, The Deep, made the decision to move to curbside pickup earlier this week.

The store, full of colorful crusaders and villains falls under the category of "book store" in the new state order.

Manager Nathan Huddleston said with so much rapid change over the past couple of weeks, it's been hard to know how to adjust.

"It's kind of confusion. I mean, like, every day is something different that we have to adjust, modify and go from there," said Huddleston.

But for businesses like the barbershop, Fade Factory, there is no "curbside option." Barber Marvin Williams said he tried to save as much as he could over the past few weeks.

"Just having to think about the steps I'm going to have to take to prepare myself and make sure I'm taking care of my family," said Williams.

He said he does take some comfort in knowing that, with barbershops and hair stylists shut down right now, when all this blows over, there will be plenty of business.

"There's going to be a boost in the economy and there's going to be a boost in barbershops. So I'm just ready for everything to get back on track, man. I'm ready for everything to get back to normal because like you said, this is not normal," said Williams.

But for now, these business owners and managers have to get used to a new normal until April 17. That's when all eyes will be on Montgomery to see if the health order expands or extends further.

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