Walker County, Alabama — Bernard’s Store for Men has been around for 71 years in downtown Jasper.
The store has been delivering clothing and offering curbside pickup since March 23rd. The owner is looking forward to reopening his business under the governor’s new plan.
“It’s been a long run being closed. We’re not used to that. We love being open. It’s been very awkward. But we’re really happy with the decision made today to open back up on Friday,” said Rusty Richardson, the owner of Bernard’s Store for Men.
Richardson said he’s been able to keep his staff employed during the crisis. He’s even considering starting an e-commerce component to his business.
Over the past few years, entrepreneurs bought buildings and opened new businesses here. New jobs were created. Then COVID-19 hit and sales tanked.
The mayor estimates a $2 million drop in sales tax revenue due to COVID-19 restrictions. But there won’t be any cutbacks. A good economy before COVID-19 and being frugal helped.
“Those two things coupled together have allowed us to do unprecedented things and certainly provide some insulation for us today,” said Jasper Mayor David O’Mary.
While retail stores across Alabama can open April 30th at 5 pm with a 50 percent occupancy rate and social-distancing, restaurants like Warehouse 319 in Jasper are still limited to take-out, curbside service or delivery.
“It’s not exactly what we were hoping for. We were hoping we could go ahead and get started this weekend. But we do respect (Gov. Ivey’s) decision,” said Robbin Sears, general manager of Warehouse 319.
While business owners want to get back to normal quickly, they say health and safety come first.
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