By Hannah Dugan ’21, Photo Editor
Photos by Sydney McKenna ’21
As the College has adapted to a “new normal” created by the COVID-19 pandemic, so too has the Town of Davidson. From Main Street Books to the Davidson Farmers Market, small businesses along Main Street have had to adopt new rules and regulations that comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and state laws.
North Carolina is currently in Phase Two of its re-opening plan, known as “Safer at Home,” which was originally set to expire in late June. Governor Roy Cooper has pushed back continuing to Phase 3 twice: once to July 17th, and again until August 7th, at the earliest. Phase Two restrictions currently limit retail stores, restaurants, and salons to operate at 50 percent capacity with increased cleanings and social distancing. Bars, theaters, and gyms are among the businesses still closed. Among these restrictions is the requirement to wear a face covering in public places, indoor or outdoor, when social distancing is not possible.
Consequently, small businesses in Davidson have adapted their business models. The Davidson Farmers Market has a designated entrance and exit, which allows volunteers to monitor traffic as well as the number of shoppers. All vendors have distance between them and are required to wear face coverings and provide hand sanitizer. In addition, shoppers are required to wear face coverings and refrain from picking their produce themselves. They are asked to keep cash payments to a minimum, maintain social distancing, refrain from gathering within the perimeter, and keep their pets at home.
Main Street Books has three options available for shoppers. Customers can order a book via the store’s website and pick it up curbside or, if they live in Davidson, have it delivered. Main Street Books is also offering appointments for those who would prefer to shop in person. Each appointment lasts forty minutes and begins on the hour. Until August 2nd, an appointment is required to enter the shop. Finally, customers nationwide can order a book on Bookshop.com, a new partnership they began at the start of the pandemic.
Yoga on Davidson, a studio frequented by Davidson students, is currently offering outdoor classes behind Summit Coffee Co. and virtual classes. Outdoor classes require a minimum of three people and pre-registration. In an e-mail to members, owner Annie Bolton outlined new protocols: an adjusted class schedule, face coverings, sanitization after every class, a marked floor to ensure social distancing, and the suspension of mats and towels provided by the studio.
Summit Coffee Company is not immune to the changes and perhaps has the most direct impact on students, who often frequent the Outpost. CEO and co-owner Brian Helfrich ‘07 says that Summit “pivoted pretty hard to being a to-go only business with a few tables inside.” As restrictions have loosened and allowed outdoor seating, they “invested in a bunch more seating […and] benefited from having mostly nice weather.”
Everyone at Summit, both employees and customers, is wearing a mask. Summit also launched mobile ordering in mid-April. At the end of this month, they will launch a new app “ that’ll be ready for the school year to provide the same service at all of [their] stores.” The app will not only include mobile ordering, but also a loyalty program, among other features.
As with other buildings and eating options, the Outpost will look very different in the fall. They’re exploring a number of different options but awaiting clearance from the college. One such option is on-campus delivery. According to Helfrich, there would be shelves in the library and Chambers where students could pick up their coffee after ordering through the mobile app. “And when they get out of class at 9:30, their latte is waiting for them with their name on it,” he said.
Helfrich saw this pandemic as “an opportunity to be a positive resource in the community during a time when most businesses are closing and […] morale is up and down.”
Early on, Summit focused on caring for its employees by guaranteeing pay and implementing safety practices to ensure a comfortable work environment. They didn’t lay off a single employee. Helfrich says Summit knew if their employees felt safe and comfortable “that [the employees] would, in turn, be able to provide a hospitable environment to […] customers.”
Helfrich recognizes students do not think of Outpost as simply a coffee shop, but as a place to gather with friends, study, or relax. Helfrich assured that Summit will open to whatever capacity possible while following proper safety protocols. Summit, no matter in what form, will “continue to serve the students in a way to provide an experience that they may not be able to get the same experience at the Union, at Patterson Court, even going out to Armfield on the weekend.”
Regardless of the situation, Helfrich says, “Summit is going to find ways to be Summit for the students.”