This story is part of a series that looks at how local small businesses and organizations have been impacted by COVID-19.
Like many local businesses large and small, Scots Landscape Nursery in Vienna, WV closed their doors at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The family-owned business includes an 11-acre garden center and nursery, a retail marketplace, and a newly-renovated sweet shop, Sugar Grove. With spring being the nursery’s busiest season of the year, the Scots team was forced to adapt and find new, creative ways to serve their customers. Manager and Co-Owner Madeson Witkosky Barr said changing their business model, especially during this time of year, was extremely difficult.
“When we closed our doors, we modified our event retail business to only curbside availability and offered all of our products through curbside service,” said Barr. “We’re thankful that our customers trusted us to pick out their garden seeds, flowers, and other supplies while using our modified services.”
Barr said the decision to close was a difficult one, one they did not want to have to make. “We understood the frustration of our store being closed. We missed our customers and we missed our Scots Team,” she said. “We made the decision to close our doors to protect our community, but we did not choose to give up. We gave it our best and we’re thankful to the people in our community that were patient and kind to us throughout this process.”
It’s extremely important to us that we do our best to serve our community, and also protect the ones around us.
Scots Landscape Nursery has since reopened, but with new protections in place for both employees and customers. Arrows were taped throughout the store to direct traffic flow and encourage social distancing, and Barr had an employee outside to keep track of how many customers were inside at a time. “Before we opened our doors, we installed Sneeze Guards, widened our sales floors, supplied gloves and face masks for all staff, and employed several more changes to abide by the guidelines that have been suggested,” said Barr. “It’s extremely important to us that we do our best to serve our community, and also protect the ones around us.”
Although the pandemic has been difficult for Barr and her staff, she said the encouraging moments have kept them going. “Our community has been extremely uplifting throughout this entire situation. We’ve been grateful for the amount of community support that surrounds us.” Without that support, Barr said it would have been even more difficult to modify their business. “We’re blessed with amazing customer support that helped us stay hopeful.”
Difficult times tend to bring people closer together and this is just as true for our local small business community. Barr said the pandemic has encouraged her and her team to increase their support for fellow small businesses. Over the past few months, her family and her team have challenged themselves to buy and eat local as often as possible, share posts from other local businesses on social media, refer customers to other local businesses, and reach out to fellow local business owners and staff to encourage them.
Scots Landscape Nursery has always been a team player when it comes to uplifting fellow small business owners, but the unique circumstances brought on by the pandemic have led to dreaming up creative new ways to partner. “We have several ideas in mind of ways to incorporate other local businesses and our community in future events, too,” she said. “We cannot wait until we’re able to have the capability to plan these events and partnerships.”
We had customers message and call us just to make sure we were ok.
In turn, Barr said she was encouraged by the continued support they received from the community this spring. “We had customers message and call us just to make sure we were ok. We received cards in the mail from other business owners sharing kind and positive words.”
Scots was also one of the local small businesses to benefit from the matching gift cards programs hosted by Grogg’s Home Services and West Virginia Central Federal Credit Union earlier this spring. “We had several gift-cards sold online and via curbside and some were matched by incredibly generous business owners,” said Barr. “We’re still at a loss for words with the amount of support we received through this time.”
Despite the hardships, Barr remains optimistic about the future and looks for the silver lining. “There are several lessons and wonderful memories I will take away from this tragic time. It’s been an emotional roller-coaster, but the highs are always, always better than the lows,” she said.
“I’m proud to live in a supportive community that values small businesses and supporting one another. We have a lot to be thankful for as a community. We’re stronger together and we will overcome.”