Editor's note: This story is part of the 2021 "Essential to Jamestown" special edition of The Jamestown Sun. The annual Progress Edition features stories on essential workers, agencies and businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
Business for Jetstream Car Wash was affected during the coronavirus pandemic, said Ray Mering, owner.
“Our gasoline volume, it slowed down,” he said. “I think you’d find most gas stations have slowed down, their volume has slowed down. But when the weather was nice and conditions were right, our car wash was as busy as ever. Overall during the whole length of this thing, yeah, we’ve seen a slowdown.”
Dale Redinger, owner of S&R Truck Plaza, said his business was hit dramatically when the pandemic hit.
“There was nobody traveling so sales were down 90 percent,” he said. “Weren’t pumping many gallons (of gas).
“There weren’t as many trucks either,” he said. “Most things were shut down around the country and North Dakota was affected by that as well.”
S&R Truck Plaza provided food access for truckers such as to-go items, which weren’t readily available, Redinger said.
Jetstream Car Wash and S&R Truck Plaza each implemented measures for safety such as installing plastic shields and sanitizing the gas nozzles and other high touch areas.
“When it was required, my employees in the store wore masks,” Mering said. “Out in the car wash ... you can use their side window almost as a shield and a mask out in that environment when you’re working and everything else, it just doesn’t work. I let anybody out there in the wash wear a mask if they wanted to.”
He initially worried that if enough employees got sick with coronavirus that he might have to shut down. But that didn’t happen and employees weren’t afraid to work because of the possibility of contracting COVID-19.
“We had zero employees get sick,” he said.
Mering said the weather is a greater factor for his business than the coronavirus pandemic.
Redinger said S&R Truck Plaza implemented extensive sanitizing procedures during the pandemic, sold face masks and provided masks. Employees continue to wear masks, he said. He expects certain sanitizing measures to continue.
“I think cleaning and sanitizing is definitely going to stay with us,” Redinger said. “I don’t think masks are going to stay but I believe cleaning and sanitizer and all that stuff is going to be available, I don’t think that’s going away.”
Redinger’s restaurant, like others, was affected by the pandemic when it began here.
“.. some other businesses I talked to said they were doing pretty good with carryout so we did try it but we’re on the end of town and it didn’t do as well,” he said. “Mashed potatoes are a little hard to do as carryout.”
The restaurant closed for five weeks starting in March 2020, he said, then began takeout service again shortly before reopening. It had limited customer capacity until recently and now is at 100 percent capacity, he said.
“We’re back to before pandemic, pretty close,” he said of the restaurant business. “We’re doing pretty good now.”
Redinger said one challenge has been having enough employees because of the increase in unemployment benefits during the pandemic to $1,200 a week which he can’t compete with for pay. He said that situation is still “tight” but beginning to improve.