Local economy

Skypoint Transit driver Nathaniel Hunt performs an inspection on the chain and lights connections on his truck and RV Wednesday at Skypoint’s loading and receiving yard in Goshen before heading out to deliver the RV.

GOSHEN — Two recreational vehicle leaders and Goshen Chamber of Commerce’s president offered perspectives Wednesday amid efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a report by RVBusiness, Craig Kirby, president of the RV Industry Association, said the organization is focused on “helping its members through this challenging time” as public gatherings, including industry events, have been cancelled or postponed and restrictions mandated.

Kirby said the organization is “talking regularly” with members of the federal government “to learn about the administration’s next steps,” according the report.

“And we are working our contacts on the Hill to provide input and suggestions regarding the next proposed stimulus package, which will be generated in the Senate in consultation with the administration. Once they agree, the Senate Republicans will negotiate with the Senate Democrats, pass a bill and send it to the White House,” Kirby said. “The Senate stimulus package that has been discussed is in the $1 trillion range. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ala.) has also indicated the Senate will pass the House-generated stimulus bill and send it to the president, who has indicated he will sign it.”

Kirby added the RVIA is in touch with FEMA, the National Governors Association and individual state government officials to determine how the industry can help support the virus relief effort.

“We are also in contact with our industry partners and allied industries and have scheduled a board of directors conference call for this Friday,” Kirby said. “We are making sure that the industry’s interests are always kept in the forefront and we continue to be an information resource. This is clearly a time that the entire industry needs to work together to overcome this challenge.”

Phil Ingrassia, president of the RV Dealers Association, said the RVDA and its board are working with legislative contacts on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that would, among other things, extend sick leave and benefits to small businesses, the RVBusiness report reads.

“So, we’re on top of that and we’re working with our industry allies on a lot of different things, including any kind of stimulus bill that would help the economy through this very difficult time,” Ingrassia said.

Ingrassia also said the RVDA is assisting dealer members facing more severe restrictions, such as those in California’s Bay Area under a “shelter in place” mandate, by providing services, parts and fuel to RV mobile command centers, virus testing centers and full-time RVers.

‘FEELING THE PAIN’

Goshen Chamber of Commerce President Nick Kieffer urged local residents Tuesday to buy gift cards or takeout food from their local restaurants and to consider the option of purchasing items through stores’ social media pages and websites.

After meeting with several local business owners, Kieffer said those “feeling the pain first” in the initial wave of restrictions are the hospitality and service industries.

“I think with the given times we’re in, everybody’s trying to navigate the way and to figure out where to go, where things are at,” Kieffer said. “Restaurants are trying to adapt to the new changes; it changes by the day; it changes by the hour. Business is usually always and pretty resilient. Folks I’ve talked to are trying to figure out the way, find a way, right? That’s the name of the game right now.”

Kieffer continued, “… Now’s one of those times where you’ll see, and I think we have seen, people doing some just out-of-the-box thinking to keep things moving along the best we can until things, you know, settle down.”

Several local businesses are adjusting or ceasing operations.

All Martin’s Super Markets locations will reserve the hours of 7-9 a.m. today, in addition to both Tuesday, March 24, and Thursday, March 26, for shoppers over the age of 60 who have been advised to avoid leaving home as much as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a release from the company. Additionally, Martin’s pharmacies will open at 8 a.m. today, March 24 and 26. Martin’s Side Door Deli Cafe entrance will be open to all ages for pick up of coffee or a to-go lunch.

Martin’s Groceries to Go service is waiving the shopping fee for seniors placing orders beginning March 22 through March 31, the release states. Wednesday, March 25, will be a designated “Seniors Only” order day.

Like other grocery chains, Martin’s has placed limits on such items as milk, eggs, bread, paper products and certain meat products.

University Park Mall in Mishawaka, a regional hub for retail, closed at 7 p.m. Wednesday and is tentatively scheduled to reopen March 29.

Arlene Long, receptionist of Salon J, 130 S. Main St., Goshen, said the business, in a sector of the service industry where person-to-person contact in prevalent, is continuing to operate as its regular customers keep appointments.

“We’ve had a few cancellations, not a whole lot, but a few,” she said of the salon, which employs four stylists. “And we’re not seeing too many new appointments scheduled as of right now.”

Long said the business is spacing out appointments to avoid “a high amount of people at the same time.” She also urged consumers to consider purchasing from small, local salons — shampoos, conditioner and other products — rather than big-box stores.

“We’re keeping our supplies washed and wiped down. The areas that people normally touch on a little higher basis, like our checkout areas and the credit card PIN pad, those are wiped down after each use,” she said. “The areas where people sit, we’re keeping that sanitized and wiped down. … We’re doing our best to ensure the areas are sanitized.”

Some downtown businesses have advertised adjusted operations, including takeout services and a focus on online ordering. Downtown Goshen Inc.’s “Come Together, Goshen” Facebook event page is posting updates as they come.

Updates include:

Goshen Brewing Company, 315 W. Washington St., has transitioned to carryout sales only on beer and food, with $2 off all to-go beer sales. To minimize interaction, patrons are asked to visit the GB-Go tent outside the beer hall.

Shirley’s Gourmet Popcorn, 106 N. Main St., is accepting gift card orders through Facebook and Instagram, to be mailed. Free delivery is offered in Goshen with a $25 minimum order. Call 574-535-5047 and pay with a credit card prior to delivery.

Fables Books, 215 S. Main St., is selling all products over the phone, to be delivered curbside. Call 574-534-1984. The store intends to have its inventory listed on its website in the upcoming days.

The Imagination Spot, 108 E. Washington St., has art supplies, including art kits, coloring books, pens, markers, greeting cards, notebooks, note cards, notepads, stationary and more through its online shop. Items not available online can be purchased from social media posts by calling 574-304-9154 or messaging. Free delivery for orders over $25 to Goshen, Elkhart and Middlebury.

Giving Tree Massage, 125 E. Lincoln Ave., has gift certificates available on its website. Patrons can purchase a gift certificate and if customers email givingtreemassage@gmail.com with the gift certificate number, it will be applied to customers’ accounts and pay the therapist in advance.

I M SHE, 108 W. Washington St., is offering curbside pick-up for any purchase and free shipping for any purchase of $50 or more. I M SHE’s website is under construction. Any merchandise on its social media pages can be purchased by calling 574-536-5995 or by message.

Sorg Jewelers, 120 S. Main St., is offering its normal services with the same hours: 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. If customers prefer, staff will offer assistance over the phone or by email and meet customers at the door or bring items to the car.

Spacious Heart Yoga, 302 S. Main St., encourages patrons to purchase gift certificates and services online due to the studio space being closed. It is offering 25% off each service on its website through the end of April. Use the discount code “BEWELL” at checkout. Those with questions can call 574-279-9470 or email studio@spaciousheartyoga.com.

Found, 208 S. Main St., has products online and will ship items, if customers desire. Staff will take photos of items and ship customer purchases upon request.

Constant Spring, 219 S. Main St., will be open 5-9 p.m. through Saturday for carryout orders only. It offers beer, wine and food. Call 574-533-3302 to order.

Common Spirits, 111 E. Lincoln Ave., will be open from 5-8 p.m. Friday, with carryout poke bowls and house-made juice/mixers to make cocktails at home with. Customers can text to-go order at 574-312-7343 (text only), with a name and order. Gift certificates also available.

The Nut Shoppe, 204 S. Main St., has handmade chocolate, nuts and packaged gift items available for curbside pickup by calling 574-534-2828.

Geoff Lesar can be reached at geoff.lesar@goshennews.com or at 574-349-6446. Follow him on Twitter at @glesar_TGN.

Geoff Lesar can be reached at geoff.lesar@goshennews.com or at 574-349-6446. Follow him on Twitter at @glesar_TGN.

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The hART editor/reporter

Geoff Lesar is editor for The hART, an entertainment weekly published by The Goshen News. He is also The Goshen News' entertainment reporter.

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