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How Small Businesses Can Adapt During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Carla Eckels
Jill Miller, owner of Creative Solutions, visits with Planet Hair's Tod Ernst. Miller says the salon's staff brainstormed safety practices to best serve customers.

Local businesses in Wichita are looking for alternative ways to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic as restrictions on public gatherings change how people are shopping and dining.

Jill Miller is the owner of Creative Solutions, a business development consulting company. She is meeting with clients to come up with ways to help keep local businesses open.

"I think that we have to support our local businesses or we aren’t going to have them anymore," Miller said. "This is a really trying time for all small businesses. We have to really take care of each other and help each other."

Miller works with clients such as Planet Hair in downtown Wichita. She says she recently brainstormed with the salon's staff.

"We decided what we need to do is just to create a really great, healthy environment for their clients."

The salon is making sure all surfaces are all wiped down, including the salon chairs.

"We’ve done training with the staff on proper handwashing techniques," Miller said. "We are asking people not to bring other people with them when they come into the salon for their appointments, so we are keeping the amount of people in the salon down."

Credit Carla Eckels / KMUW
Lucinda's gift shop in Wichita's Old Town posted a note on their door offering shoppers alternative ways to purchase items.

Miller, who also owns the Finishing School For Modern Women in Wichita, is altering the way she does business by offering online classes. Several other businesses are also trying to adapt.

"[Lucinda’s is] advertising what they have to sell and lining up private times for people to shop," she said. "There are a lot of things we are trying to do to stay in business during this time."

Miller says Perfect Plate, a business that offers "heat and eat meals," is seeing more senior shoppers come through their doors at this time.

"I was just there and people are coming in and buying a dozen meals at a time so that they could put them in their freezer and won’t have to go out shopping," Miller said. "They felt really safe coming in there buying the food and just leaving with it."

Local businesses in Wichita continue to adjust to the ongoing concern about social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Miller says one of her clients who owns an acupuncture therapy practice is spacing her appointments apart so they don’t meet.

"... people are wanting to keep their appointments for their own wellness and just to get out of the house and have some touch too," Miller said, "so she’s doing what she can to stay open as well."

Carla Eckels is director of cultural diversity and the host of Soulsations. Follow her on Twitter @Eckels. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

Carla Eckels is Director of Cultural Diversity for News and Engagement at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.