Last weekend many downtown businesses reported their highest revenue since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in March. This comes at the heels of several recently announced recovery efforts and new health/safety guidelines which have helped Shawnee County businesses adapt to the current social environment.
“We were seeing incredible momentum to start the year. February was our best month ever across the board between Cyrus, Iron Rail and Pennant. March was looking even better and then COVID hit,” said Seth Wagoner, CEO of AIM Strategies LLC. “It’s been a rough few months for everyone, but with so many businesses still working from home, it really hit downtown. The good news is people are starting to venture back out. This past weekend was our best weekend since everything changed in March as more people come back downtown to enjoy the patios, pick up carry out orders and check out the Evergy Plaza. Things seem to be looking up and we’re excited for some new things that are coming.”
“The uptick in downtown patronage is a major indicator that consumer confidence is increasing,” said Vince Frye, president of Downtown Topeka, Inc. “I think the current mask mandate and the Topeka Promise initiative have had a tremendous role to play in this outcome and will continue to influence Topeka’s overall economic recovery.”
The Topeka Promise, announced in June 2020, is an initiative of the Topeka/Shawnee County Community Recovery Taskforce that allows businesses the opportunity to display to the public that they are following health and safety guidelines to combat the spread of COVID-19. Currently, over 200 Shawnee County businesses have been Topeka Promise certified or are in the process of becoming certified.
“Absolute Design by Brenda has definitely seen an up-swing in shoppers this week. Both walk-ins and flower orders have been gradually increasing. It was nice to see Evergy Plaza used last Saturday which brought a few new people in,” said Brenda Price, owner of Absolute Design by Brenda.
Numerous Shawnee County businesses, including those in Downtown Topeka, are currently bridging the gap between public safety and healthy commerce by taking a proactive approach to adapting to COVID-19. Many downtown business owners have recognized the benefits of enforcing social distancing and proper sanitation methods to help assure consumer safety.
“My store has been totally rearranged for convenience of distancing while shopping. We wear masks and sanitize our check out station for customers protection. We are grateful for every sale no matter the amount, just nice to see faces to offer assistance to,” said Price.
"Leaping Llamas is welcoming customers while practicing social distancing and wearing masks,” said Alicia VanWalleghem, owner of Leaping Llamas Artisan Shop. “We are fortunate to have a large floor space and a few customers in at a time to make sure everyone has lots of room while browsing. This has helped keep customers and staff feeling safe and artwork moving."
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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Jensen Simons at Jensen.Simons@TopekaPartnership.com.