A downtown Indiana establishment is among those given a reprieve when Gov. Tom Wolf revised his list of “non-life-sustaining” businesses.
“We service a lot of doctors in the area, with their patient gowns,” said Janet Buggy, who has One Hour Downtown Dry Cleaner along Philadelphia Street, as well as two drop-off locations, Quality Cleaners and Master Cleaners, and a Wash-and-Go Laundromat at 490 Water St.
“Drycleaning and laundry services” were among those getting a “no” to the question of whether they may continue physical operations.
That prompted customers to tell Buggy, “I hope you are not closing because we still need clothes.”
And it prompted Buggy and her husband to seek out state Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Indiana, for help in getting a waiver from that restriction.
As was noted on the governor’s lists, “In extenuating circumstances, special exemptions will be granted to businesses that are supplying or servicing health care providers.”
A high volume of waiver requests from across the commonwealth prompted the governor’s office to make some changes. The time of enforcement of his order regarding “non-life-sustaining” operations was moved from 12:01 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday.
And there were changes in what constituted a “non-life-sustaining” operations.
As noted on the revised five-page list provided by the governor’s office, and shared on Struzzi’s Facebook page, “Drycleaning and laundry services” now get a “yes” to the question of whether they may continue physical operations.
Buggy’s main business is along a stretch of Philadelphia Street that includes a lot of locked doors these days.
And as a song from nearly half a century ago might put it, to “signs, signs, everywhere a sign.”
“Closed due to statewide closures order by Gov. Tom Wolf,” as posted at the Hobbyspeed.com hobby shop, is an example.
You will find shorter operating hours at establishments where the doors are unlocked … and more signs.
“Please Do Your Part,” Ninth Street Deli patrons are asked. “If you see what appears to be more than 10 customers in the store, please wait till one leaves before entering. If you paid in advance for your order let someone at the main register know. Don’t wait in (the) ordering line so that we can get you out quickly.”
Just this past week, Jimmy John’s Indiana general manager Haley Corle said her business went from being open 12 hours a day (10 a.m.-10 p.m.) to six (10 a.m.-4 p.m.).
“Nobody wants to come out,” said Corle, who has run the downtown sandwich franchise since September.
Her efforts have not gone unnoticed by Jimmy John’s chain President James North, whose letter posted by the cash register states that the top priority of his restaurants has not changed: “The health and safety of our customers and team members across the country.”
There are fewer people around to see any of those signs.
The COVID-19 or novel coronavirus crisis also prompted Indiana University of Pennsylvania to send the majority of its students home, suspending face-to-face classroom instruction for online instruction.
For those who remain, as Downtown Indiana Inc. stated in an email newsletter Thursday, “it appears that Gov. (Tom) Wolf is allowing restaurants to continue providing take out and delivery options as long as they employ social distancing and other mitigation measures.”
When the governor later ordered a mandatory shutdown of “non-life-sustaining” businesses, “full-service restaurants” and “limited-service eating places” were allowed to “continue physical operations.”
One cannot make motor vehicle parts, but one can sell them. Sellers of vehicle accessories and tires also can continue operations. Automobile dealers, lawn and garden equipment and supply stores cannot.
Furniture and home furnishings stores cannot continue operations. Building material and supplies dealers can.
Grocery stores could remain open all along. Specialty food stores also can remain open under Wolf’s revision.
That includes Dan Smith’s Candies and Gifts, which has been open along Philadelphia Street since November 2017.
“Our stores also have food products but may vary from store to store,” the company posted on its Facebook page prior to the governor’s Thursday evening remarks. “Indiana has spaghetti sauce, vodka sauce, pasta, honey, maple syrup, dip mixes and a variety of Republic of Tea flavors.”
Indiana store manager Sandy Kowaleski said she was not panicked.
“I honestly think we are going to come through Easter fine,” she said.
Her staff is washing their hands, wiping down the counters and using hand sanitizer.
“We’re just being a little more diligent in that,” Kowaleski said.
The Smith stores in Indiana as well as Brookville, Clarion, DuBois and Ridgway have curbside service, for those who call in a credit card, as well as free shipping anywhere in Pennsylvania.
Jewelry stores also are listed as “non-life-sustaining.”
That would include Luxenberg’s, which opened its doors in 1916, just before the Spanish flu made its way across the Atlantic from war-torn Europe, and lives on amid the concern over a virus making its way across the Pacific from China — though restrictions have forced operations by appointment only along Philadelphia Street.
“It’s slowed everything down,” owner Jeff Widdowson said. “We want to make sure all of our customers are covered.”
He acknowledged that the COVID-19 problem “created an obstacle,” but said his staffers have “come up with creative ways of doing business,” since layaways and repairs were moved there from his Indiana Mall store.
“Our walk-in traffic is down to nothing,” Widdowson said. “We do a lot of custom work. Everything we have ordered is on its way. We just finished doing some work on our website.”
Other businesses have had to retrench operations, too. One is Italian Village Pizza, whose local franchisee also has a store in Clearview Mall in suburban Butler.
“We don’t have a lot of people coming in here,” said Monica Sarver, daughter of the franchise owner who usually works in Clearview Mall. “Our business has dropped a lot by not having people come in here.”
Four employees in Butler and approximately six Indiana employees are affected by what hampers Italian Village Pizza.
Other eateries — at least 80 in all — still can be found across Indiana County, as listed in a resource put together by Downtown Indiana Inc., the Indiana County Tourist Bureau, the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana County Center for Economic Operations.
DI Executive Director Linda Mitchell said it will be updated as information becomes available. The list can be found on DI’s Facebook page as well as the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce’s “Indiana County Shop Local” Facebook page.