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Downtown Spartanburg stores struggling as shoppers stay away
Herald-Journal - 3/21/2020
Mar. 22--Candace Pruitt decided to window shop in downtown Spartanburg on Saturday afternoon to get some fresh air.
The Spartanburg resident and her children had been cooped up at home since Wednesday due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
Downtown was mostly quiet, with only a few people venturing on West Main Street to see what shops had to sell.
"I never thought I would live to see the day when people have to self-quarantine," Pruitt said. "It feels so different downtown right now. It feels empty."
Pruitt said with the coronavirus outbreak she doesn't know what to expect next, especially with a downturn in the economy as a result.
"People don't know about their jobs," she said. "Everyone still has bills to pay."
At the Spice and Tea Exchange on West Main Street, business was slow on a day that would normally be busy.
"We have been slow all day," said Illona Wright, a Spice and Tea Exchange employee. "The owner is trying to keep us open as much as we can."
The store hasn't cut back on staff yet. Wright said she remained positive during the crisis.
"In times likes this you just have to halt and be still," Wright said. "Be aware of what is happening and stay away from fear."
Sales also were slow at DK Boutique and Spa in downtown. Natalie Koller, a senior at Boiling Springs High School, worked the day shift.
"We have had only three customers so far today," Koller said. "The only sales we had were a candle and some earrings."
Koller said the store continues to have online sales and plans to stay open for now.
Several people passed the time in Morgan Square riding bikes, eating ice cream and walking their dogs.
Leila Whitlock of Gaffney bought takeout food from Monsoon Noodle House. She' a student at Spartanburg Community College and works at Jetline Inc. in Gaffney as a graphic designer.
Whitlock said she had her hours cut back at work from 40 hours to 20 hours this past week due to the virus.
The cutback hurts financially, but Whitlock said she's not too concerned about the virus and doesn't think she is susceptible to it.
She spent the afternoon with her friend, Angela Wilson of Blacksburg, walking around downtown.
"I think the virus is too hyped- up," Wilson said. "I am not too worried about it."
Groucho's Deli on East Main Street had only 10 customers through Saturday afternoon. The chairs were placed on top of the tables since dining inside wasn't an option due to the outbreak.
"It's been slow all day with very few people," said Groucho's Deli manager Jay Stevens. "If this keeps going, I don't know what we are going to do."
It was the same story at Rocky Moo on East Main Street. The ice cream store had only one customer during the first three hours of operation.
"It's been pitiful," said Mae Webster, a Rocky Moo employee."We usually get at least 50 to 60 customers on a Saturday night."
Webster said Rocky Moo plans to stay open unless economic conditions get worse. She's also worried about the virus.
"I am pretty scared of it," Webster said "People need to keep their distances and keep washing their hands."
(c)2020 the Spartanburg Herald-Journal (Spartanburg, S.C.)
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