GREENSBURG – The Christmas season is different in many ways this year because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Social distancing, mask wearing and even orders to stay home have hurt countless small businesses, but that hasn’t affected the service many small businesses on W. Main Street in Greensburg offer.

Farmhouse Antiques, Collectibles, Styling and Tanning is one of the newer additions to the Greensburg business community and is definitely an eclectic experience for all who visit.

Split into two distinctly different businesses, Farmhouse Antiques is on the left side. It’s run by Lori Beagle, while her sister Leigh Ann Carder runs the full service beauty, nail and tanning salon on the right side.

The first thing one notices when visiting Farmhouse is how clean and well merchandised it is. Beagle and Carder spend much of their time making sure their customers have a pleasant shopping experience.

Currently hosting 17 separate vendor booths, Farmhouse Antiques carries everything for the “shabby chic” décor lover.

“We try to avoid garage sale,” Beagle said. “Many other antique malls use that look to fill up space, but I try to be a little more choosey here.”

Even the public restroom is clean and tastefully decorated!

Beagle also specializes in furniture redecoration and carries a full line of Dixie Bell chalk paint.

As an added attraction, she also hosts on-site furniture redecoration “parties.” For $25, customers bring in their own furniture pieces and Beagle shares her redecoration talents.

Sister Leigh Ann runs the full service salon. She offers clients stand-up and reclining tanning booths, hair styling for men and women, even “Nails by Catherine.”

Carder said because of the pandemic a good deal of the men who were coming in for their hair have stopped doing so.

“With COVID-19, that clientele has stopped coming out, but we’re here and we want people to know it!” she said.

A bit closer to the Greensburg Square, in the WIC Plaza at 325 W. Main Street, is Thrifty Paws, a pet store that also features new and gently used pet supplies. The shop is run by the team of Emily Redelman and Kelly and Misty Ross, and when they opened in December 2019 Greensburg welcomed the three with open arms, proving there was indeed a market for their commodities. And then came COVID-19.

“We had really good business the first three months, and then February hit,” said Misty. “We’re still doing okay, but we can’t expand and bring in the new items we wanted to have this year.”

Thrifty Paws sells hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, kittens (in season), rats, and a few exotics, but their big business is in freshwater and salt water fish.

“We sell all kinds of fish, gold fish, sharks, one tank of saltwater fish which I’ll be expanding soon, and specialty betas,” said Kelly. “People go crazy over those!”

They also carry a full line of animal foods and health supplies.

Kelly has been in the pet business for over 30 years and provides the shop with much knowledge about the care and feeding of smaller creature with fur, fins or scales.

They also sell finches, parakeets, parrots and cockatiels. Kelly loves the birds and wants to expand when business picks up after the pandemic.

“We like to keep our prices low. That’s what is bringing folks in,” she said.

At 727 W. Main Street is the trendy and charming Spruce Salon, run by business partners Crystal Bare and Amanda Marshall.

Having opened in 2018, they saw a healthy business clientele develop. Fortunately, that client base has buoyed them through the pandemic.

The shop is full service, offering nails, spray tanning, pedicures, manicures and some selections not available in other salons. And when customers enter, they’re greeted by mask-wearing stylists who spend a great deal of time making their customers not only welcome, but also safe.

Esthetician Daelyn Stuehrenberg offers skin care and micro-derma planing in an environment that is conducive to not only good skin, but relaxation as well. Having trained at Empire Beauty and Southport Beauty in Indianapolis, she’s been taking care of customers for two years, and loves her job.

Bare and Marshall are working stylists themselves and are thankful for their customers during a period that has been brutal for many small businesses.

“It’s going great,” said Marshall.

“Even through COVID –19. I think our clients trust us to protect them and make them feel safe. And we clean and disinfect after every customer,” said Bare.

Comparing their first year to their second, the owners have been pleasantly surprised with their trends.

“When they shut us down, we were all a little panicked,” said Bare. “Fortunately, when they let us reopen business picked up again quickly, and it’s been non-stop since.”

Columbus native William Cowan runs Cowan’s Exotics at 125 W. Main Street in Greensburg, an exotic pet store.

On-site, Cowan carries ball pythons, frogs, bearded dragons ,skinks, crested geckos, a black and white tegu and a host of many other scaly creatures. He also carries feeder mice (live and frozen) and all the supplies to keep a virtual exotic “zoo” healthy and happy.

Cowan’s works with breeders as much as possible, but said he is very picky.

“I want safe, healthy animals, and I want them to have the best nutrition possible, so I carry what I use,” he said.

Cowan’s can special order any animal, and offers layaway.

Cowan’s opened in late 2019, and has felt the full force of the pandemic.

“The first couple of months, our business was great, but as soon as February hit …“ said Cowan. “After that, it’s been very touch and go.”

“I guess I want people to realize that small business owners, unless they’re well known and established, are having a rough time,” he continued. “Larger businesses can survive most of this, but when there are no sales for a week, it’s pretty scary to be in business for yourself.”

Chris Deweese of Greensburg AutoSound has been at his current location, 731 W. Main Street in Greensburg, since 1997 and deals primarily with automobile electronics like stereos and remote car starters. With his installation technician Ivan Hughes, Greensburg AutoSound also sells backup cameras and installation, speaker replacement, and audio system improvements. He also installs heated seats and navigation systems.

“When the initial rounds of travel restrictions and lockdowns took place, it essentially turned off our business like switching off a light,” Deweese said. “We were completely down for about 4 to 6 weeks, but May, June and July were the best months I’ve had in business as far as sales go.”

Deweese said stimulus checks and the larger stipend on unemployment were probably responsible for the boost.

“We were doing a lot of higher end installs like boat, UTV, and Jeeps installations. I don’t know whether it was because people had not been able to go on vacation but were still intent on spending the money or if they just had extra spending money,” he said.

Deweese said that the biggest problem this year has been the inability to maintain inventory.

“So much of the supply chains were down. We’ve had a heckuva time getting enough products to install because of the electronics industry in Asia. Those facilities were completely shut down for three or four months,” he explained. “It’s been tough, but we’ve managed to adapt.”

Further down W. Main Street is one of the older small businesses in town. The Kids Shop is a resale shop owned and operated by local businesswoman Patty Ryle who has been in business for 20 years. Offering nice children’s clothing for reasonable prices, Patty believes in keeping a clean shop and making sure the community’s children have the clothing selection they need.

Ryle said she was shopping in Cincinnati for her grandchildren when her husband suggested she start a resale shop in Greensburg.

“There wasn’t one here at that time, so we opened in March of that year and the rest is history!” she said.

Like most everyone else, Ryle’s business suffered because of the pandemic.

“This year has been rough because we had to shut down, and my husband has had some health issues,” she said. “We decided to close on Mondays and Tuesdays because my manager/daughter Jennifer had a child, so it’s been difficult to have some consistency for people.”

Ryle coordinates with local children’s relief services to make sure local children have what they need.

“The customers in Greensburg have been very kind to us, so for 2021 we are spending more time on merchandising and making sure everything is clean,” she said. “I just want my customers to be happy. When they are happy, I’m happy.”

The Encore Insurance Group Knueven Agency had been in business for 10 years before the pandemic, and owner/agent Dee Knueven is thankful for her customers. Purchased from Main Source Insurance in 2010, Knueven’s agency has roots that originated in 1917.

“We offer property, casualty, life, and health insurance for personal, farm and commercial customers,” Knueven said.

Even though her business has not been directly hurt by COVID-19, she has worked with clients whose businesses closed their doors for good in 2020.

“We are thankful for the people who’ve been with us for so many years, but there really isn’t anyone in the business world who’s remained unaffected by the virus,” said Knueven. “Let’s just cross our fingers that 2021 is better for all of us!”

Bill Rethlake may be contacted at bill.rethlake@greensburgdailynews.com or 812-663-3111 ext. 217011.

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