Small business owners in Buchanan County feeling hopeful, despite pandemic

The Executive Director of Buchanan County Economic Development said she’s only aware of two shops in the county closing due to the pandemic.
Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 6:12 PM CDT
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Five months after Governor Reynolds began easing some coronavirus business restrictions, some small business owners in Buchanan County said they see light at the end of the tunnel.

“I think we are going to be okay,” Kriss McGraw, owner of S&K Collectibles in Independence said. “I think we are seeing a lot of people come into the small counties and I don’t think that’s just something that is going to be short lived.”

McGraw is celebrating 25 years of business at S&K Collectibles. That’s a relief after hearing she’d have to shut down back in March.

“I had no idea how long it was going to last, it was scary. That’s the best word I have for it,” McGraw said.

McGraw said curbside orders and local deliveries helped, but she also planned ahead for anything.

“Part of it was that fact that we’ve been here a long time, we aren’t new. We aren’t trying to get started and we had a little cushion to ride on,” she said.

The Executive Director of Buchanan County Economic Development, Lisa Kremer said she’s only aware of two shops in the county closing due to the pandemic.

“I think a lot of it is the local people trying to support the shops and restaurants,” Kremer said.

“We had great support from the community,” McGraw said. “We had customers that bought gift certificates and haven’t spent yet, but they were doing it to help and that wasn’t just in our shop. They were helping everyone hang on and survive.”

Just down the road, at Fabulous Fridays, a clothing and retail shop, owner Angie Anderson said doing things like Facebook live events and curbside pick-up kept her business afloat.

“Those sales would at least pay for your rent, your utilities, just your basics,” 'Anderson said.

Anderson had just bought a café before the shutdown started. Which she said was tough, but credits loyal locals for helping make it through.

“Being so small and having those restrictions, it really holds back a tiny, small restaurant like a café. So it’s been tough, we are still working through that and figuring out the best recipe to get things going the right way,” Anderson said.

Kremer said some shop owners are exploring partnering with ‘Shop Iowa,’ an online shopping platform run by the Iowa Economic Development Authority.  She said it can help take local merchandise beyond small communities.

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