SANFORD, Fla. – August marks six months since the pandemic arrived in the U.S., and although most businesses are up and running again, the impact of COVID-19 continues to affect small mom and pop shops.
In an effort to help those struggling businesses, a new ad campaign was recently launched in the city of Sanford. City leaders say the “Sanfording Safely” advertisement has been running on local stations with the hopes of energizing the downtown area again.
Nathan Clark is the owner of Wondermade, an ice cream shop along 1st street in the heart of historic downtown Sanford.
“My wife and I loved coming by on the weekends because we would see a line right here in front of all the ice cream it wrapped around all the way to the door,” Clark said of pre-pandemic business.
Those packed days are now a thing of the past due to the pandemic.
Like the majority of small businesses, during the shutdown, sales hit a drastic low--Clark said he lost more than $100,000 in four weeks, and after reopening, sales are still down by more than 50%.
“We’ve done everything we can here to help; wearing masks, people are washing their hands, wearing gloves, taking all the precautions, but there’s a lot of people that are still just reluctant to go out,” Clark said. “I think safely is the biggest question for people.”
Clark hopes the TV ad will help ease those safety concerns.
"It's really helpful to be reminded that there are ways that we can do this more safely," he said.
The idea came from Sanford's Community Redevelopment Agency to ensure patrons local businesses are doing their part to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.
“They’re wiping tables, they’re having to social distancing in between tables, they’re wearing masks. They’re doing everything that needs to be done to make sure that when you come to Sanford that it’s as safe as it can be,” Charles Davis, Chairman of the board of Sanford’s CRA said.
According to the CRA, they're still working on getting numbers in regard to the economic blow businesses in downtown have suffered.
“At this point, we have not done any surveys but I don’t know that a survey is really needed right now to see that COVID is affecting the businesses,” Davis said. “Our hopes are that people will come out of the house, know that they can come to Sanford, they can eat in the restaurants, and know that everything is being done to make sure that they are safe from the virus being transmitted.”