The coronavirus pandemic has delayed at least one planned local building project, but others are moving ahead.
And the abrupt shutdown of retail has forced one family to get creative in launching their new boutique.
Chad and Ann Meurer have a 5th Grant Boutique store in Wabasha and Rochester and were planning to open their third in River Hills Mall on March 17.
With the mall temporarily shuttered, they decided to move ahead with a virtual grand opening, using a Facebook Live event at 4 p.m. Sunday to let people see the store and to buy items live.
“I don’t know if anyone’s had a grand opening this way. We’ll see how it goes,” said Chad Meurer.
Store manager Mackenzie Batzel, Ann Meurer and other employees will show people items from the store. If someone watching wants to buy it, they’ll arrange with them to meet to pick it up.
Chad said they’ve been doing some Facebook Live one-hour events at their Rochester store in the Apache Mall and have had sales from it.
“This one will go longer. We’ll go until we’re done, a few hours maybe, I’m not sure. We’re kind of making it up as we go,” he said.
People can go the the 5th Grant Boutique Facebook page to stream the event Sunday.
The boutique is near Barnes & Noble and carries a wide variety of home decor and gifts. “Half of our stuff is handmade, we use a lot of local vendors,” said Chad, who is a full-time sheriff’s deputy in Wabasha County.
The name of the boutique comes from the address — 5th Grant Blvd. — of their first store in Wabasha.
Besides the three full-time locations, they operate three temporary shops in the Twin Cities during Christmas.
Chad’s friend Dale Meyer and his wife, Shelly, are partners in the stores.
Rooftop Bar on hold
After years of working on her new restaurant and bar, Julie Sabin will have to wait a bit longer.
The Rooftop Bar + Kitchen is to be built on Belgrade Avenue in North Mankato, next to the American Legion.
“We’re still moving forward, but it is delayed,” Sabin said.
She said they are taking the extra time to redo some of the design and layout of the Rooftop. “We’re looking at some cost-effective things we can do.”
While she is disappointed in the delay, she says she feels more for other bar and restaurant owners.
“Restaurants that were already open have it far worse than my position. It’s not good for any small business or independent business right now. We’ll get through this.”
She’s unsure when she’ll be able to move ahead. “No one knows are we half way through this (pandemic), or is this just the start of it?”
Frandsen Bank moves ahead
A new Frandsen Bank building, which is going next to the Rooftop Bar location and next to the Circle Inn bar, is moving ahead.
“We’re hoping to start construction in the next month or two,” said Nick Hinz, Frandsen branch president.
A former convenience store building will be razed to make way for the bank.
Frandsen will likely be able to keep its drive-thru open longer. The drive-thru is where the Rooftop is to be built.
Studio 5 a go
A mixed-use development in Old Town also is moving ahead.
The Studio 5 building, to be located next to The Wooden Spoon on North Riverfront Drive, is being developed by Coldwell Banker Fisher Commercial.
“It will be urban living, artist lofts, apartments and one to three commercial tenants on the ground floor,” said Cate DeBates of Coldwell. There also will be an ADA apartment on the ground floor.
While most restaurants have been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic and the order to close except to do takeout and delivery, pizza chains are looking to hire.
The Domino’s franchise-owned locations are looking to hire about 25 new employees across three stores in Mankato and New Ulm. The positions include delivery drivers, customer service representatives, assistant managers and managers.
The local Pizza Hut stores and other chains are also hiring.
The Daily Dairy Report, which analyzes dairy markets, wrote recently that among restaurants, pizza delivery restaurants appear to be the most unaffected by COVID-19. “Pizza Hut, Papa John’s and Domino’s have all announced they will increase their workforce this year, creating 60,000 new jobs.”
Best Buy open by appointment
The Mankato Best Buy is one of roughly 200 Best Buy stores that started allowing customers in by appointment only.
Customers can schedule appointments by phone, online, through the Best Buy app or via live chat. Customers will get confirmation of their visit, along with reminders via text and email. An employee will call the customer before the visit to go over the process, explain safety measures and get more information about shopping needs.
All employees are wearing gloves and masks and are required to do a self-health check before each shift using a new employee app developed by Best Buy.