Petals & Wicks is now open at 119 Main Street in Hamilton. Petals & Wicks offers a variety of premade scented candles and options to create your own custom scented candles, tarts and sprays. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Photo: Nick Graham
Photo: Nick Graham

‘My gut told me we needed to prepare for it’: Butler County businesses change for stay-at-home order

Ohio’s new stay-at-home mandate finds many Butler County business owners working to devise new ways of operating to help weather an economic storm they hope will be temporary.

Hamilton’s Petals & Wicks owner Sherry Hoskins said she knew a full shutdown of non-essential businesses was on its way, so the store “got as lean as it possibly can” be laying off its staff of four and conceiving a plan to let customers recreate the storefront’s experience in their own homes.

The do-it-yourself kits include multiple candle jar options and wax melts from $26 and bath and body products from $16.

“Since we heard about the coronavirus, just something in my gut told me we needed to prepare for it,” she said. “About a week and a half ago, I started creating the kits, putting the marketing behind it (by designing videos for each) and getting them out on the website.”

MORE: Coronavirus stay-at-home order: What businesses are considered essential?

Starting today, the store will shift from curbside pickup to shipping its orders. Those who purchase $50 or more of merchandise will receive free shipping.

“I think it will help us to survive this crisis,” Hoskins said. “We’ve had good response to it so far … via curbside. People have been very supportive, I mean, we’ve gotten so many messages from our customers just praying for us, hoping for us to be able to survive it, and we will.”

Cecelia Vogelsang Nenni, a co-owner of downtown Middletown’s Gold Beret Boutique, said she and her daughter Monica were “all kinds of shocked” upon hearing the news that all of Ohio’s non-essential businesses would have to close.

She said the business, which offers vintage and one-of-a-kind ladies apparel and accessories, already shut down on its own a week ago.

MORE: ‘We’re nervous, obviously’: Butler County restaurant, bar owners work to endure shutdown

They’ve since made their items available via e-commerce site Etsy and by selling gift cards.

“We sublease our space, so I would hope maybe our landlord will forgive us on rent for a month or two until we get back on our feet and we’ll do the best we can,” she said. “Everyone’s just in a waiting pattern until we know what’s going on. We’re trying to stay positive and hope for good results and that it doesn’t become more devastating to everybody and just praying that things will get better.”

Co-owner Jessica Schwartz of Hamilton’s Rustic Home said she and her husband Dan “had a feeling” the non-essential business shutdown was coming and were prepared for it.

“We’ve been adding new items to our website for purchases with 20 percent off using code SALE20, and offering free delivery within 15 miles of our shop,” Schwartz said. “We understand why the government wants to do it and just pray that it doesn’t last too long so we can all get back open and welcome customers back in.”

MORE: PHOTOS: Scenes throughout Butler County as coronavirus concerns grow

Oxford Physical Therapy has 17 locations across Southwest Ohio and Kentucky, all of which it will temporarily close while implementing a temporary layoff of certain nonessential employees due to the mandated business closure and COVID-19. That includes centers in Hamilton, Oxford, Tri-County/Fairfield, West Chester Twp., Mason, Maineville/South Lebanon and Beavercreek/Kettering.

Co-founding partners Pete Zulia and Ken Rusche said in a statement Monday that the pandemic situation, which generated stay-at-home orders in both Ohio and Kentucky, has “impacted our business significantly.”

Middletown Mayor Nicole Condrey, Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller and Fairfield Mayor Steve Miller issued a joint statement Monday urging local residents who are hunkering down and working from home to support local businesses in their communities.

“As leaders of our communities, we encourage you to support your local businesses as much as possible, keeping your dollars circulating where we live,” the trio said via the letter.

MORE: Butler County mayors encourage supporting local businesses in pandemic

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