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Happy to be back

After more than four months of starting and stopping business due to various emergency orders, many business people on New Providence who reopened their establishments yesterday were happy to be back.

The reopening came after Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, the competent authority, decided to allow a broad resumption of commerce, notwithstanding concerns surrounding COVID-19.

D’Asante Small, marketing manager of Da Bush Cook, said the Boyd Road restaurant is resilient. 

It is now offering curbside pick up and delivery services for its customers.

“We are happy to be back,” Small said.

“We are thankful that we could open. We watched the world news and we have big businesses and small businesses worldwide making that hard decision to close their doors permanently. We know of local businesses considering the same. We are just thankful we are able to [have] the resources to open back.”

Small said with limited interaction with customers due to health protocols, the restaurant is keen on giving its patrons the best experience through social media engagement.

“When customers [are] inside, they would have time to browse the menu,” Small said.

“[They] can choose what they like. They interact. They ask us about specials. You do miss that. Whatsapp and other social media [are] very important now, so the customer gets as much of that experience as possible.”

When asked if the restaurant had considered closing permanently, Small told The Nassau Guardian, “It never really crossed our mind that permanently closing or shutting our door was an option.

“If anything, we would have had a few other steps before we got there, whether it’s opening up for limited days, opening up as a pop-up style. We would have found a way to make it work.”

Like Small, Arlington Brennen, operations manager of Signature Styles clothing store on Marathon Road, said closing for good was not an option. 

“We decided to wait it out to see what would happen,” Brennen said.

He had expected it to be a much longer wait for the store to reopen due to the high rise in COVID-19 cases on New Providence.

“We were not anticipating opening right now,” Brennen said.

“We honestly thought it would take a while, but we hope everything goes as planned. We hope people adhere to the rules that are set in place.”

Brennen said while business was shuttered, their team worked to create marketing strategies and build their online content to facilitate all of their clients.

“We went into a digital marketing campaign,” he said.

“Once we did that, we went into e-commerce. We launched a website as well during this pandemic. We do online sales as well as, in store. Between the two and being able to do deliveries, we have really been able to sustain the store.”

Although restaurants were closed during a national lockdown that started on August 4, Renalda Green, general manager of Domino’s Pizza, was happy to be back yesterday.

“Working with AML Foods [Limited], we never stopped working,” Green said. “We were able to work in the food stores while Domino’s was closed.”

She added, “We were waiting for the green light. We wanted to ensure everything was fresh. Everything old had to be thrown away. We lost a lot of inventory. We had everything sanitized. Our ovens and our makelines were all cleaned. They were all sanitized and ready for today.”

After initially being left off the list of professionals allowed to resume business yesterday, those who work in the cosmetology industry were among those who reopened.

Asanta McKenzie, 28, a barber at Genesis Barber and Beauty Salon on Baillou Hill Road South, said he was thankful for the prime minister’s announcement on Sunday evening, allowing beauty salons and barber shops to resume business.

“It took him long enough,” McKenzie said.

“I’m glad we are open now. [However], I think we could have opened up sooner. He gave us the guidelines of one person receiving the service at a time, so I don’t know why it took so long.”

With barbering as his only source of income, McKenzie said his savings were being exhausted.

“I wasn’t working from March,” he said. “Bills piling up. The same issue everyone had with NIB, I had it too. My savings help me. It was hard. It was really rough.”

Despite being able to resume normal hours yesterday, Caroline Turnuest, owner of Rising Star Beauty Salon in the Mall at Marathon, said her business has suffered tremendously due to the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing some of her staff to operate on their own.

“I think it’s going to take a while for the business to come back,” Turnquest said.

“A lot of persons have redesigned their homes to ensure they have a salon at home. Two of my staff have already decided to work from home. We are going to have to get creative in terms of our marketing. We are going to have to think outside of the box to bring more people in.”

Turnquest said the salon would usually be busy with a variety of services being offered, but with the COVID-19 cases still high and health protocols in place, it is not business as usual.

“We can only operate with a certain [number] of people at a time,” she said.

“You have to make sure your appointments are booked out. That will be critical.”

Turnquest pointed to one concern.

“While we are able to open, people operating spas are still not allowed to open,” she said.

“Within the training on how to handle clients in this field, a part of that training was for people [who] do massages and operate spas. I found that a bit strange that they are leaving off spas. In a number of salons, there are spas. I’m hoping that can be reconsidered.”

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Italia Clarke

Italia Clarke joined the Nassau Guardian in August 2020. Clarke covers national, human interest and social issues. Education: University of The Bahamas, BA in Media Journalism

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